It's franchise time again, fiends, and as previously mentioned, this time I'm delving into the wacky world of the Leprechaun series. It'll be full of bad puns, over-the-top silliness, and some famous actors and rappers. I bet you can't wait! Like Hellraiser, I know the first Leprechaun pretty well, but am iffy on my memory on some of the others, so this will again be like watching them all for the first time, but that's the fun of franchise reviews. Of course we're going to start at the beginning with the film that started it all, Leprechaun from 1993.
After a leprechaun comes after him for taking his gold, Dan O'Grady traps him in a crate in his basement, seemingly forever. But ten years later, JD and his daughter Tory move into his house and the creature is unleashed. Now Tory and locals Nathan, Alex, and Ozzie must find a way to stop the leprechaun before he kills them all for his gold.
Oh, Leprechaun. Leprechaun, Leprechaun, Leprechaun. Such an odd little duck in the horror world. The long and short of it is that I actually enjoy the first Leprechaun movie. It's quick and fun, it's punny and silly. There's nothing more to it than what they present to you on the screen, and you can just watch it and have a good time seeing Warwick Davis biting people and saying the most campy and ridiculous lines ever. Some of the plot points leave a little to be desired, as do some of those lines of dialogue, but this is about what you would expect to get if someone told you that you were going to watch a movie about a killer leprechaun.
First up in the talking points is of course Warwick Davis as the leprechaun, and there probably would be no movie, and no franchise, without him in the titular role. The heavy makeup effects on him and the fact that the director for some reason decided to show him in shadow for a good portion of the movie may have hindered that part of his performance, but the voice and other physical things he does more than make up for it. Davis makes the character funny and therefore pretty likable in that regard. Though he's never really scary at all because of this, you can still believe it and enjoy it when he starts killing people. It always seems obvious when an actor is having fun with a character, and that especially helps with a movie like this. One of my favorite moments in the movie is this great reaction shot that Davis gives when he looks at himself in a mirror.
Recently, it seems like Jennifer Aniston has accepted that she was really in this movie. I watched a few clips of interviews where people have brought it up and she laughs about it now, as she should. Aniston plays Tory, the vapid, useless Beverly Hills girl who resents having to come to this dirty house in the middle of nowhere and only decides to stay because the house painter guy, Nathan, is a babe. She also rocks the LA Gear sneakers like nobody's business. Nathan's younger brother Alex is best friends with man-child Ozzie... and I don't really know how I feel about that character. The actor is good, but it almost feels a little wrong, doesn't it? Still, Ozzie fills the requisite role of the character that nobody believes through most of the movie - though he and the editing do nothing to sell the fact that a person could "accidentally" swallow an entire gold coin.
The kills are pretty basic, but there are definitely some interesting things to note here. The leprechaun doesn't have a weapon of any kind in the movie, and there are only a few on-screen kills, the first of which is when he pushes an old woman down the stairs. Meh. Mostly, the leprechaun is just a dirty fighter, and he scratches and bites people a lot. He also plucks out eyeballs and somehow kills O'Grady in the rest home. Now that I think about it, they really should have had a scene of O'Grady and the leprechaun facing each other again, instead of just showing his dying scene. The scene of the leprechaun chasing the cop through the woods is bit long and weird, and he doesn't even kill him right away so that's boring. Of course, the holy of holy deaths in Leprechaun is my favorite memory of watching the film as a younger me - the POGO STICK DEATH. If there is anything to look forward to in this movie, it is the leprechaun killing the owner of the collectibles shop by bouncing up and down on his chest on a freaking pogo stick. The movie gets serious awesome points just for that. Other quick things to mention: there are some great effects at the end when the leprechaun melts after eating a four-leaf clover (with Alex saying "Fuck you, lucky charms" to enhance the moment) and then gets blown up in the well, AND there's a Nightmare on Elm Street rip-off effects shot when the leprechaun's little hand comes out of the telephone.
Leprechaun is a quirky, campy movie that doesn't need to try to be more than it is. Watch it to enjoy the bad puns and the bad 90s fashions, and to see funny little shots of Davis as the leprechaun on a tricycle, a pogo stick, roller skates, a wheelchair, a skateboard, a toy car, and a soapbox derby car. Seriously, the little guy knows how to get around. The movie is pure comedy and ridiculousness, and I don't think I would have it any other way. I am terrified of the prospect of the "in tha hood" movies, but I will still get through it for you guys.
However, it may take me longer than I thought it would to get through the Leprechaun movies, because though I own the first three movies on a DVD set, I had all the others saved up in my Netflix queue, and just as I going to start the franchise - they all went off Netflix Instant. Grrrr.