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Oct 17, 2014

October 2014 Horror Movie a Day - Day 16: LEPRECHAUN (1993)


There is nothing like a fun, dumb horror movie - and that is exactly what this movie is, fun and VERY dumb. I knew what I was getting into here, in fact it was what I was seeking and I wasn't disappointed. It helped that I knew that there was no possible way this picture could be a good one. Although you never know, sometimes the dumbest looking movies have turned out better than they should be.

If Ross says "we were on a break" just one more time...
Leprechaun features a young Jennifer Aniston, one year before Friends premiered. She is fresh-faced here, and she is also one of the brighter spots of the picture. Warwick Davis is the evil Leprechaun causing all the trouble - probably tired of being all cute and cuddly as the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi. A few years also have passed since Willow.

I am not an Ewok!
The picture opens with a poor old man (Shay Duffin) returning to his run-down home from a trip to Ireland in a limousine. He tells his wife they have stuck it rich thanks to his discovery of a Leprechaun's pot of gold. That Leprechaun has tagged along in his suitcase (curious as to how he got through customs and Immigration even in this pre-9/11 era) and wants his gold back. The man has hidden the gold which proves fatal to the wife, but he is able to trap the little killer in a crate protected by a four-leaf clover. He is unable to destroy it because the Leprechaun causes him to have a heart attack.

This movie is going to make me ridiculously rich and famous.
Some time later, Jennifer Aniston and her father (John Sanderford) move into the house. She's a spoiled brat who thinks North Dakota is New Mexico ("I don't care, all I know is that it isn't L.A."), and complains about the lack of Evian water and healthy food. About to leave, she runs into a hunky local played by Ken Olandt. He dares her to stay and not wanting to be outed as a 'coward' she agrees. I think the filmmakers want us to believe that Aniston's attraction to Olandt also has something to do with her staying, but there is absolutely no chemistry between these two at any point in this picture so that never is a factor.

That is NOT Enrico Pallazzo!
Olandt is a house painter along with his younger brother Alex (Robert Gorman) and their simple friend Ozzie (played by Mark Holton, best known for being the bicycle thief in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure - oh and the guy who shouts "It's Enrico Pallazzo" in The Naked Gun).

You don't have to take that "reach out and touch someone" slogan so seriously!
Ozzie and Alex find the gold and hide it, although Ozzie accidentally swallows one of the pieces. He then stumbles upon the crate and frees the angry Leprechaun, but nobody believes him.

Should we leave him a tip before he stabs us to death?
The Leprechaun just wants one thing - his gold, and he is willing to kill anyone that gets in between him and his treasure. He also has a thing for shining shoes. Yes, when this Leprechaun trashes a house, he also can't resist shining every shoe in the place and leaves them looking like new on a kitchen table. Later on in a 'so stupid it's brilliant' scene, our heroes toss shoes in order to distract Davis while Aniston makes an escape to find the old man and learn how to defeat the Leprechaun. Davis frantically grabs each shoe and shines it while Aniston easily gets away. Best...scene...ever!

The only one getting lucky after this picture is Jennifer Aniston.
Needless to say, the body count increases as Davis comes after Ozzie who has the final piece of gold in his stomach. All it is going to take to defeat this thing is a four-leaf clover because those are SO easy to find (although it ends up in this case, they are) especially on a large farm, in the dark.

Aniston is the tough one here and acts more angry than afraid. Davis really plays up his role, enjoying every second of it as he chews up the scenery ("I need me gold!"). Even when he's given thankless actions like chasing after his victims on a tricycle, skateboard and a toy electric car. He's pretty nasty in this and there is plenty of gory scenes that are more funny than they are scary, but it still  plays out as though it is a straight-forward horror film which is part of its appeal.

Wait a second, these aren't 'magically delicious'!
There is a scene where Davis is trashing a kitchen and comes across a box of 'Lucky Clovers' cereal, obviously supposed to fill-in for 'Lucky Charms'. I had guessed that they did that for copyright reasons, but then reading the IMDb trivia page for this picture I discovered that General Mills had initially agreed to let them use the real thing, but rescinded their permission once they saw dailies. The filmmakers re-shot the scene with the replacement (Davis chews on them, then spits them out disgusted), and it is reported that one of the best lines of the film - "F**k you, Lucky Charms" - was not only a clever 'action quip' in a key moment, but also a swipe at General Mills. That line is truly great and makes the picture, even if Transformers: Age of Extinction kind of ruined it for me (Mark Wahlberg constantly refers to his daughter's Irish boyfriend as 'Lucky Charms' in that film. General Mills should be more angry with Michael Bay than with this picture).

George Lucas never let me have this much fun!
The onslaught by Davis is pretty relentless - and comical - but does grow tiresome after a while making this picture drag which is saying a lot since the running time is a short 92 minutes. I'm sure Aniston has long since blocked this dud out (like she probably has also done with Brad Pitt), although I don't think she should. It's a fun, low-budget 'paying-your-dues' badge-of-honor, midnight film. Luckily multiple sequels, all but one starring Davis (one is even titled Leprechaun: In Space!), Netflix streaming and a recently released Leprechaun collection Blu-ray Disc box set from Lionsgate (I couldn't make that up if I tried) keeps this movie - and franchise - alive and kicking.