The LEPRECHAUN Movies [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Mar11

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The LEPRECHAUN Movies [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe]

He’s not Chucky, he’s not Jason Voorhees, he’s not Freddy Kruger, but with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I was recently reminded of one of the craziest slasher movie villains… Leprechaun.  For seven films, nobody could take us from South Dakota, to Vegas, to outer space all to defend his gold like the evil leprechaun can!

Now, we all know about Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, and the Friday the 13th series of slasher movies, but Leprechaun is an often forgot about series that really took the genre to a bizarre, new level.

Please note that all of the films in this series are officially rated R and this blogumn does contain some mild spoilers.

Yes, Jennifer Aniston probably regrets being in this low budget slasher; but it was well before her career took off on Friends.  The original Leprechaun, directed by Mark Jones, opened in 620 theatres in January 1993.  The story is of an evil leprechaun, who is sealed away in a box (which is guarded by a four leaf clover) by a man who stole his bag of 100 gold coins.  After new owners move into the house in which the crate was left, the leprechaun is released, and goes on a killing spree to get his gold back.  Pretty simple, right?  Yeah, and pretty gorey as well.

The film eventually went on to rake in $8.5 million on a mere $900,000 budget.  The acting is definitely not A+ material, although Aniston does show promise.  Though the film received mixed reviews, since it was a moneymaker, a sequel was rushed into production.

The very next year on April 8th, we were treated to Leprechaun 2 and this time he’s in Los Angeles in search of a wife for his 1,000th birthday.  As the tagline says “This time, luck has nothing to do with it.”

We are treated to such gore scenes as a man’s face getting ripped off by lawnmower blades, the Leprechaun killing a security officer with a go-kart, and another guy who explodes after a pot of gold is placed in his stomach.  That last scene is not as bad as it sounds.  It proves the campiness of the entire series.  His stomach is simply represented by a piece of flesh colored foam cloth.  There is no blood at all and it all really looks ridiculous.

The film received very negative reviews and barely earned the $2 million budget back.  It would be the last of the series to be released in theatres.  But, unlike most of the wishes the Leprechaun gives out – the franchise was far from dead.

So only another year later, in 1995, we are treated to the direct to video release of Leprechaun 3.  This time the Leprechaun is set free in Las Vegas and is in search of one of his missing coins that ends up being passed around by employees of a casino.  You know you’re in for a treat when the movie has the tagline “Welcome to Vegas… The Odds Are You Won’t Leave Alive!”

According to an article in Fangoria magazine, this film was originally considered to be released in 3-D.  That would have made the shot in front of the Golden Nugget casino where you can see the boom mic jump right off the screen!

Again, no big names in this film either.  In pure Leprechaun style, the filmmakers again try to shock with the over the top fake gore.  We have a woman who explodes after her lips, breasts, and butt are over inflated, a woman who climbs out of the television to electrocute the employee she’s having sex with, and a pawn shop owner who gets his ear and big toe bit off.

Interestingly, this movie is not shot in any real Vegas casino.  It is clearly a dark set constructed on a stage.  The shots of downtown Vegas are noteworthy for having Fremont Street completely closed off in preparation for the construction of the Fremont Street Experience.

But, just when you thought you saw it all… the sequels kept on coming!

YES!  In 1997, we are treated to the next direct to video release – Leprechaun 4: In Space! In space?  Oh, you bet they went there!  It’s “one small step for man, one giant leap for terror!

We are also treated to the full acting potential of actress Debbie Dunning, who was also starring at the time as the Tool Time girl on the sit-com, Home Improvement.  She also starred in the original MyNetwork TV telenovella, Wicked, Wicked Games.

So, it’s off to a distant planet in our galaxy and this time the Leprechaun is trying to court the princess, so he can take over.  The killings become even more outrageous including one that happens during a sex scene that is far too much to write about here. Another guy is turned into a giant spider, and the Leprechaun himself grows to become a giant.

The special effects in the film are downright laughable.  The CGI is right out of Windows Paint and looks nothing like the sci-fi films of the time, but again, it adds to the campiness of the whole series.  One more time, the critics ripped the movie apart. But, the LEPRECHAUN producers weren’t done yet.

Now, they’re definitely kicking up the star power with rapper Ice-T in Leprechaun in the Hood, released in 2000.  Ice-T, not too long before his Law and Order: SVU days is not the only star… Coolio makes a special appearance and we get an early look at Anthony Montgomery, who would later star on Star Trek: Enterprise.

Our Leprechaun is accidentally set loose in the ghetto, seeking a mind-altering flute that a group of young thugs has gained possession of.  The events of this movie are set between Leprechaun 2 and 3.  This movie is definitely played for a much more comical aspect and the gunshots certainly do fly!

Oh, and the Leprechaun raps during the end credits!

The final film was again released straight to video in 2003, Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood.  This time, a group of stoners find his pot of gold hidden in a tunnel and he’s back again to retrieve it.  This is another film that’s played up for comedy and pretty much goes to the only thing the series hasn’t done… having the Leprechaun take hits from a bong.

The plot is all about drug use and slashing those who stand in his way of getting the gold.  Sadly, the gore and general plot takes a nose dive on this one.  No big name actors at all.  This one is just about all filler.

When movies have to dive so low as to break out the drug humor, you pretty much know you’ve got a dud on your hands.  99.9% of the time – it doesn’t work.

There aren’t any rumors of another film in the works, but right now Hollywood seems to be releasing a lot of sequels and remakes.  I could totally see a few more of these flicks being released direct to DVD or even on Pay Per View.

The whole concept of the series is very, very campy and down right corny.  I find it’s a great diversion to check out the earlier films as an alternative to Chucky or Jason.  Some of the gore is actually quite laughable and unmistakingly fake.  The Vegas installment is the best.  Once we get to outer space, this series becomes a dud.  There are a few hilarious moments with Ice-T in the fifth film, but nothing too special.

Even thought they usually manage to somehow kill the evil Leprechaun off at the end of each film, part of the charm is how he somehow finds a way to come back for more.  That’s pretty much the basic formula for a slasher movie franchise.  Sure, this series isn’t as big as others released at the time, but be prepared to be shocked at the crazy, campy, and bad gorey makeup.

THE 411

What: The Leprechaun movie series

Type: Series of 90’s and 2000’s slasher movies

Rating: all of the films are rated R.

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: Keep the kids far away from these!  Absolutely not for them.  A couple are even dancing on the NC-17 rating, which I’m shocked they didn’t get.  The first three are worth watching if they’re shown as late night filler on Encore.  They are all available for rent from Netflix and are for sale on  A true fan of the genre would probably love these as a gift, but I really don’t see the general audience making an appointment to DVR these.  There are no Blu-Ray releases at this time.

If you check any out, just know what you’re getting into.  It’s a campy slasher flick… nothing more.  The later ones however, are just plain dumb.  If you’re not a fan of horror flicks and campy gore — steer clear.  You won’t want this guy’s pot of gold!