LeprechaunThere are a lot of bad horror movies, but because the genre is generally considered disposable, no one really remembers them. You have to be a fan of these kinds of films to have even heard of Castle Freak or the Wishmaster series. (I was going to use Deathbed there, but Patton Oswalt had to go and take that one mainstream.) Leprechaun, however, has entered into the public conscious, probably because there are, inexplicably, FIVE sequels. So if you need a quick goto example of how laughably awful horror can get, chances are you’ll reach out for Leprechaun, even though you’ve likely never seen it. Well, I am here to correct your misconception. Leprechaun is not a bad horror movie. It is a bad comedy. Which, in some ways, is worse.

The titular star is, of course, Warwick Davis of Willow and Star Wars and anything that needed a little person but couldn’t get Billy Barty. He’s a demonic leprechaun looking for his stolen bag o’ gold and taking bloody revenge on anyone in his way, including Jennifer Aniston in her film debut.

If the premise itself–a three foot guy in buckled shoes is coming to fuck your shit up–isn’t enough of a clue that this movie is in on its own joke, you will be swiftly convinced by scenes of the Leprechaun chasing our heroes on a tiny tricycle, downing a box of “Lucky Clovers” cereal, and falling for a ploy in which the gang throws dirty shoes at him which he must compulsively polish, allowing them to escape. I guess leprechauns are into shoes.

Occasionally, the shtick works. Davis, presumably cast for his stature, puts everything he’s got into the performance, tossing off Freddy Krueger style bon mots before cackling wickedly and disappearing into the shadows. Oddly, the Leprechaun does not have an Irish accent, but we’ll let that slide. The opening is played like straight horror. His first victims are terrified of him, which is what makes the scene funny, because…you know…he’s a leprechaun. But then the real protagonists show up and things get weird.

Lions and tigers and bears!  Oh my!

Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!

If the film had restricted the human characters to the straight man roles, things could have worked. But instead, they’re WACKY! Early 90’s, Full House brand wacky. The major offender is Ozzie the idiot man child, played by Mark Holton, best known (by me) for his much better turns as Francis from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Chubby from the Teen Wolf movies. Ozzie gets into all sorts of kooky situations with his streetwise Newsies-style sidekick Alex and their beefy leader Nathan, with whom Aniston trades awkward flirty banter. And let me tell you, when Ozzie accidentally swallows one of the Leprechaun’s coins, the shenanigans and crack-em-ups really get going!

Look, movie, I kinda dug it when you were parodying high concept slasher films. But adding the Scooby-Doo crew to the mix just makes it groan-worthy. A movie about a killer cereal mascot does not need comic relief characters. By the time I got to Alex’s heartwarming yet naive plan to use the gold to pay for Ozzie’s brain surgery, I’d had about enough.

Plus the body count is disappointingly low.

Leprechaun is definitely a bad movie, but it doesn’t really take itself seriously enough for me to recommend it as cheesy late night riffing fodder. If you’re a fan of the genre, you kind of have to watch it once to see what all the fuss is about, and it’s worth it for the occasional laugh and to catch Davis in a rare starring role. But that’s about all you’ll get out of this one.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

Happy St. Pat’s Day, kids. Knock back a Shamrock Shake for me.

Shamrock Shake

One Response to “Leprechaun”

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