I grew up seeing many 90s horror films in video stores when I was a youngster. Rumpelstiltskin, Night of the Demons 3 and many of the Leprechaun movies manifested their cover arts into my little mind. The latter of the three were some of the most memorable. Even at such an age, I never thought of these Irish terrors as horrifying. They looked cheap and comical, so when I finally watched the first Leprechaun, I wasnít surprised by what I saw. In fact, the story and setting turned out to be eerily close to what I had always imagined it might be. Rarely had I ever guessed and succeeded in my predictions to what route a horror film would take from purely cover art based perceptions. All I had to go by was a short green monster peaking through a doorway. Cheesy but fun; thatís all I expected. But is Leprechaun actually good?
Daniel OíGrady (Shay Duffin) returns to his wife (Pamela Mant) in the United States after stealing one hundred gold coins from an Irish leprechaun (Warwick Davis). When the leprechaun follows OíGrady to the US to retrieve his coins and kill his wife, Daniel traps the fiend with the magic of a four-leaved clover in his basement. Ten years later, the abandoned OíGrady house is purchased by J.D. Reding (John Sanderford) as a present for his daughter, Tory (the famous Jennifer Aniston of TVís Friends). Painters Nathan (Ken Olandt of April Fool's Day), Ozzie (Mark Holton) and Alex (Robert Gorman) try to shape up the cobwebbed home, but when Ozzie cracks open a crate in the basement, the evil green creature is unleashed once again. Ozzie sees the leprechaun clear as day, but nobody believes him because he has the mind of a child; mentally slow. The youngest painter, Alex, whose only a kid, goes on an adventure with Ozzie, where the two find a whole bag of gold coins. Never mess with a leprechaunís gold, or itíll be the death of you. Give it back, before he takes it from ya wee one!
I couldnít believe that Jennifer Aniston actually starred in this low budget oddball. I always heard about it, but it took a full viewing to come to grip with its reality. Her character, Tory, whose basically the main protagonist of the feature, first comes off as a bit of a brat. Her father has given her a new home, and as rundown as it is, sheís not at all grateful. Her acting is also a major weak part of the original. It has been said multiple times that Leprechaun was the film that Aniston starred in before she took acting lessons. However, the talent is often measured much lower than it deserves, and while she doesnít appear to give anything award worthy, itís watchable. Anyone who knows about Jennifer probably agrees with me that her characters share the same traits. She plays the same person every time, which is not necessarily bad. At least sheís good at what she does. But if youíre used to her routine performances, itíll be a breath of fresh air when Tory comes on screen. Itís not too far a stretch, and yes, sheís quite bad at it, but itís something new and thatís gutsy.
The leprechaun is a lot like the Freddy Krueger villain in the A Nightmare on Elm Street entries from the late eighties to early nineties. He cracks jokes and is not creepy in the least bit, although I applaud the make-up effects on Warwick Davis. Itís a popcorn movie, and meant to get a little chuckle out of the audience. I mean, the overall story is ridiculous to begin with: a leprechaun kills people just because he wants his coins back. Heís not a one-dimensional monster, but he sure kills mindlessly. People who donít even have his treasure die by his petite hands. Every scene heís in is entertaining to watch just to see what he says or does. Crotch grabbing, speeding on the road with a toy car, and rhyming while offing shopkeepers. Itís a blast! Only the leprechaun would ever think of using his buckle as a razor, and what must certainly go down in movie history as a first time is when Warwick kills a man by jumping on him with a pogo stick. What creativity!
With a funny leprechaun and weird grouping of characters, itís a shame that this film is kind of stale. Reflecting on it, itís without a doubt a bad movie, but thereís also not much to it. Though we have exciting kill methods, the scenes are anticlimactic, easy to drift off to, and very predictable. Ozzie accidentally swallows a coin when he and Alex find the leprechaunís gold. You know thatís going to come back and bite him in the ass as soon as it happens. There is one excellently pieced portion of Leprechaun, and itís the producing of a leprechaun atmosphere. I for one never thought of leprechaun atmospheres before, but with the flute music, green lighting, and colorful clothes of the people, I feel something a bit more special. J.D.ís orange shirt, Jenniferís blue polka dot dress, Nathanís button up purple muscle shirt, Ozzieís tacky red suit and overalls with a paintbrush design and Alexís red and yellow striped shirt claim this movie in the name of 1993. You know itís the 90s when...
The cast inevitably finds out that Ozzie was right and that a leprechaun is indeed real. They try to return to gold to him but oneís missing. Can you remember where it is? Iím not sure why four-leaved clovers should stop a magically mini-man, but thatís the mythology here and I canít say that I didnít enjoy it. Warwickís shenanigans are just what this movie is about. Who cares about character development? Well, itís there for anyone who wants it, but in Leprechaun, the motive is to give a full room of people something to be grossed out by and still have as good a time as one would with a comedy. Itís bloody, itís silly, itís not of this world. But itís also really mediocre. How something this okay spawned almost half a dozen sequels is amazing. Lionsgate released this film on DVD with a beautiful full screen transfer with trailers for the film and its first sequel. The audio is pure, and thereís nothing that should stop you from seeing this cult classic. Watch and learn before your luck runs out. Rent it!