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Get lucky with our 25th anniversary salute to Leprechaun

Contributed by
Jan 8, 2018

I want me gold!

If you're the mop-headed Garth Algar of Wayne's World fame, you might want to hand it over, because nothing is more terrifying than mentioning the demented green goblin from the campy Leprechaun horror franchise, as Wayne Campbell can hilariously attest.

 

Leprechaun turns 25 today, and the wacky, R-rated black comedy has aged particularly well, still able to elicit delirious giggles and eye-rolling groans from audiences in annual St. Patrick's Day screenings, scary streaming marathons, and intimate home theater midnight viewings worldwide. Sure, the jokes are cringe-worthy and dated, but it charms nevertheless!

Infused with a semi-serious tone and some nasty death moments, Leprechaun was released somewhere over the rainbow on Jan. 8, 1993, and starred the 3' 6" treasure Warwick Davis (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Willow) and a sassy, acid-washed-denim-wearing Jennifer Aniston in her first movie.

This grotesquely twisted take on the centuries-old Irish legend was written and directed by Mark Jones, who was inspired by the plucky character from the Lucky Charms cereal line, and created a darker, more mischievous (and homicidal) version in his original screenplay.

 

Trimark Pictures' nightmarish fairy tale chronicles the madness that ensues when an ancient leprechaun goes on a kill-crazy rampage after his beloved bag of gold coins is ripped off. Using an array of supernatural trickery and all the luck o' the Irish, the diminutive demon slays anyone foolish enough to try to stop him from his quest. A mystical four-leaf clover is employed to thwart his evil machinations, and the lime-skinned monster is finally vanquished after many bad puns and much bloodshed. But he'll be back!

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Leprechaun was let loose in the no-man's land of early January in an attempt to separate itself from leftover Hollywood holiday offerings like Home Alone 2, A Muppet Christmas Carol, A Few Good Men, and Toys. With a minuscule budget of $900K and a cliched horror formula, it was a moderate hit when it rounded up $8.6 million in ticket sales, and was successful enough to spawn an entire seven-film franchise that lasted 21 years. These weirdly addictive movies actually get better ... and bats*** crazier! Death by pogo stick? Yes, it happens!

Behold the bouncing, spring-loaded carnage below...

 

The impish Irish creature followed up the original film with Leprechaun 2 (1994), Leprechaun 3 (1995), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997), Leprechaun in the Hood (2000), Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood (2003), and Leprechaun: Origins (2014), the only installment produced without Davis' involvement.

Warwick is at his devilish best in these loony Leprechaun flicks. While filming, he endured a 3-4 hour daily makeup and costume process with effects artist Gabe Bartalos, so as to transform into the tiny green terror. Despite rumors that he detests them, the actor is actually proud of the comedic elements of the entire franchise, and has gone on the record to reveal his favorites:

"I think number one’s cool because it was the one that kind of started it all, and at that point, you know, who knew we would go on to make six?" Davis stated in an IFC interview. "It’s amazing. I’m particularly fond of three and four. I like the comedy element in them, as I’m fond of comedy anyway. I like the character in those. He’s a horror character, but that sense of fun that he has, those films really bring that out quite nicely. I’d say one, three, and four."

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Give us your best Leprechaun kills in the comments below, and tell us if you're even a little bit obsessed with these Emerald Isle oddities!