Leprechaun (1993) / Horror-Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for violence and language (an edited PG-13 rated version also exists)
Running time: 92 min.
Cast: Warwick Davis, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Olandt, Mark Holton, Robert Gorman, John Sanderford, Shay Duffin
Director: Mark Jones
Screenplay: Mark Jones
About as well-known for the pre-"Friends" debut feature of Jennifer Aniston (Office Space, The Iron Giant) as it is for a kick-off to a series that mystifyingly won't die, Leprechaun is like following a rainbow to its end and getting a pot of poop instead.
Warwick Davis (Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace) stars as the titular creature, a leprechaun who is represented as a little man with a homicidal disposition and an obsession in reclaiming his lost 100 gold coins, which he lost to a North Dakota man named Dan O'Grady (Duffin). He comes to the O'Grady's house to get his gold back and ends up stuck in a crate in the basement of the house (trapped by a four-leaf clover, which is 'kryptonite' to leprechauns), only to be let loose again a decade later by J.D. Reding (Sanderford, Firestarter) and his daughter Tory (Aniston) who buy the place and aim to fix it up. Three house painters, the hunky Nathan (Olandt, Summer School), young brother Alex (Gorman, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead) and their severely daft man-child Ozzie (Holton, PeeWee's Big Adventure), are also on the scene, where they discover the pot of gold which makes everyone the target for the leprechaun's deadly wrath.
Writer-director Mark Jones (Rumpelstiltskin, Triloquist) seemingly films without much of a script, basically crafting a slasher film akin to an entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street series except without much of that franchise's good puns or horrifically gory style. Warwick Davis does make for a rather perfectly impish little leprechaun, so the casting is about right for a film of this type, but the wild stereotypes and uninspired dialogue do little to evoke passionate or even plausible performances by a cast of character actors. Many of the non-horror scenes have that colorful and wide-eyed simplicity in its characterization and treatment that you might find on a show on the Disney channel, only to get interrupted by the diminutive devil with a penchant for sadism contrasting the light, banal comedic storyline.
Dumb scenes run a-plenty, such as one death at the bottom end of a pogo stick, and chase scenes involving vehicles and a leprechaun on a tricycle. The first thing the senselessly developed father/daughter duo do in order to fix a dilapidated house is paint the shutters and gates that need replacement anyway. Shotguns with seemingly unlimited ammo are fired at the little bugger without much effect in terms of stopping him, and the characters still can't figure out its uselessness. Odd touches, such as the leprechaun's OCD obsession with shining shoes is so awful (in one scenes, they even toss scuffed shoes as a means of distraction!), you have to wonder if Jones isn't intentionally making an abysmal film. For reasons that aren't made clear, the leprechaun can also mimic the voice of anyone he wishes to -- even a cat -- in order to snare his victims.
Leprechaun is devoid of any entertainment value to anyone not looking to zone out to mindless schlock of the least mentally taxing variety. It's not scary, it's nearly wholly unfunny (though the scene where the leprechaun spits out a 'Lucky Charms'-ish cereal in disgust approaches the satiric tone Jones should have strived for with the rest of his film), and it's poorly developed from script to screen. No rules are employed to make sense of it all, seemingly thrown together from scene to scene with no narrative momentum to hold it all together. My choice for title: Fairy Bad.
- Followed by Leprechaun 2 (1994), Leprechaun 3 (1995), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997), Leprechaun in the Hood (2000), Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)
©2011 Vince Leo