image

This time around, The Leprechaun is loose in Las Vegas, hunting a lovesick young man who has found one of his stolen gold coins and is using it to wish himself through a lucky streak. The wish bit is inspired, as it allows Leprechaun to work the old "Monkey's Paw" routine, ironic wish-granting on unsuspecting victims. It also introduces a new wrinkle about people turning into Leprechauns themselves after being bitten by one, which hasn't come up again in the series.

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)

Brian Trenchard-Smith returned to the director's chair for Part 4, which carries the original joke of "otherwise standard genre movie but with a Leprechaun" to the next logical extreme, casting The Leprechaun as the antagonist of your basic R-rated space opera and having nobody find it all that unusual that their foe is a magic Irish mischief demon. All told, this is probably the best of the Leprechaun movies.

Your basic team of space marines are dispatched to rescue a kidnapped alien princess from The Leprechaun, who appears to have his own planet and steals aboard the marines' ship after the supposed rescue. As it turns out, said princess, who's actually pretty villainous in her own right, is actually sought by the ship's head scientist for the mysterious healing powers possessed by her species. Further troublemaking by the title character leads to murder, mayhem, cross-dressing cyborgs, human/spider mutations and a climax where survivors battle The Leprechaun after an enlarging ray turns him into a towering giant (a sequence I'd like to imagine Warwick Davis enjoyed at least as much as I did).

Leprechaun In The Hood (2000)

I was working in a Blockbuster Video the day the first solicitations for this one came through. That was a day, my friends, that was a day. Sending an iconic horror antagonist, most of whom famously menaced mostly white suburban and/or rural teenagers, into a mostly black urban neighborhood is such a simply brilliant pitch for shaking up the formula. It's kind of amazing that The Leprechaun got there first as opposed to Freddy or Jason. Too bad the movie wasn't better.

Ice-T (post-serious actor phase, pre-Law&Order phase) is a powerful and corrupt hip-hop mogul whose dark secret is lacing his tracks with beats sampled from a Magic Flute to make them popular. The flute, of course, was stolen by said mogul from the (once again imprisoned) Leprechaun. When a group of aspiring young rappers attempt to steal the flute for themselves, the creature is unleashed and tears up the 'hood looking for them. It goes about where you're expecting and yes, Leprechaun smokes weed, yes, Leprechaun raps, but a visibly diminished budget keeps it from being anywhere near as fun as Parts 3 and 4 were.

For some reason, there's a widely accepted fandom theory that says this film actually takes place before all the others, but I never quite figured out how.

Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood (2003)

Probably thanks more to the title than to the film itself, In The Hood actually turned a solid profit on video, so this sixth(!) installment went into production. Originally set up with a "Leprechaun goes to Spring Break" premise in mind, the producers ultimately decided to continue with the urban setting once more and in doing so delivered the movie I'd been hoping to get from Part 5: A classic formula slasher flick freshened up by transposing it into a mostly black inner-city neighborhood (and by adding The Leprechaun, of course). It even features a prologue that provides as close as we're probably going to get to an official origin story for the by-then decade old character.

The main plot is more or less a reworking of the first film: A preacher in an impoverished neighborhood has stolen The Leprechaun's pot o' gold in an effort to fund construction for a Community Center, and meets the expected grisly fate, but only after managing to hide the gold and magically imprison the Leprechaun. One year later, some local youths find the gold and hope to use it to turn around their various not terribly hopeful circumstances, only to find themselves subsequently hunted by the now-freed monster.

It doesn't exactly rewrite the book on horror sequels, but it's a big improvement over Part 5 and if nothing else it's fun to once again see Leprechaun back in a movie where he's the only character who seems to know it's supposed to be funny.

As if by fate, shortly after this retrospective was first written, it was surprisingly announced that the Leprechaun series is being rebooted by, of all people, WWE Films (yes, WWE as in the pro-wrestling organization). No casting announcements have been made, though fans are already speculating that it will be a star vehicle for WWE performer Dylan Postl, a little person athlete who wrestles under the name "Hornswoggle" and sometimes appears in Leprechaun style costume.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

RELATED CONTENT
Comments on