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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Leprechaun (1993)

Time to take a closer look at another horror franchise. I thought it was about time that I poked around the franchise that gave Warwick Davis his horror cred by casting him as a leprechaun trying to protect his gold from greedy people. And of course, getting a bit homicidal along the way.

The first installment opens with a man returning home from Ireland with a bag full of gold. While in the old country for his mother’s funeral he captured a Leprechaun, forcing him to hand over his loot. Those are apparently the rules. I guess it isn’t against the rules for that same Leprechaun to track him down and retrieve the gold by any means necessary. Though the man manages to trap him in a crate, he has a heart attack before finishing the job.

Years later a new family moves into the house. The daughter, played by a very young pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston, and her dad hire some local housepainters to help clean up the place, which has fell into disrepair in the ten years since the little green guy was trapped. During this process they free the Leprechaun and he goes looking for his gold. Gold which a pair of them found earlier! A couple of people die before they cough up the loot to get the homicidal wee folk off their back. But they are short one coin which happens to be residing in the stomach of the man child Ozzie. Uh oh…

I’ve always liked Leprechaun. Warwick Davis has a lot of charisma and is having a blast playing the character. He manages to have some very funny dialogue all while being a gleeful maniac. Personally, I take his performance here over any of the Robert Englund Freddy movies, but to be fair I’m not a big Nightmare on Elm Street guy. Still that is how much I like Davis’ performance here. I do want to give credit to the script and direction which allows him to flourish in the role. Dialogue is clever and a bit cheeky at times, while never straying too far from the horror. And the way the movie is shot and edited makes it a fast-paced blast from start to finish.

The special effects work is stellar. While the movie is a bit light on kills, we still get some fun stuff. You have a nasty looking bite on the hand, a bear trap to the leg, claws to the face, and death by pogo stick. Now it isn’t an explicit gore fest, but there is something here to enjoy. The creature design for the Leprechaun is amazing. It is both creepy and functional allowing Davis to give a performance underneath the latex. While doing my research I discovered that Gabe Bartolos (Darkman, Friday VI) worked on them so the fact that I enjoyed this part of the movie doesn’t surprise me. Bartolos always does great work.

Because of the sequels, which to be clear I do love, I think this movie gets a bad rap as being all cheese with little substance. That isn’t fair because this is a great horror flick. You get some scares, some laughs, and a pretty girl. What the heck else could you want? I recommend it.

 

Ó Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

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