The Leprechaun franchise is often referred to as one of the worst horror franchises of all time. And it can get pretty rough to actually sit and marathon, as I have tried to do multiple times in the past. But let me tell you, as a straight-to-video, no-budget B-Movie series, it’s not actually that bad. Of course it’s not at the level of the Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween films, but you can’t really compare it with those.
Looking at pictures on its own level, this franchise by and large at least beats the Children of the Corn or Howling sequels. Sure, the films are bad. It knows they’re bad. But the movies are perfectly aware of what they are and more often than not are helmed by filmmakers who get the humor behind the concept. This is not the bad kind of bad, it’s the kind of z-grade filmmaking you can watch and enjoy and laugh at—maybe even genuinely have fun with, if you’re lucky.
But when it goes from that kind of bad to really, truly, irredeemably terrible, that’s when you have to watch out. That’s when things take a turn for the mind-numbingly stupid and insufferable.
There’s no excuse for this. Origins is mishandled and terribly conceived on absolutely every level. First of all, it’s not a remake, nor is it a prequel, it has nothing to do with the other movies, but legally it’s a part of the franchise. The people who made this film openly hated the other movies and promised to take the whole series back to its creepy roots, with more gore and no sense of humor, which misses the point to a level I can’t even fathom. The entire reason Leprechaun works even remotely is because the idea of a killer Leprechaun is inherently funny.
Aside from being the only movie in the series set in space, the fourth installment also has the distinction of being the only one where the Leprechaun never rhymes and the only one where he’s never referred to as a Leprechaun. There’s a reason for this: It was not originally written as a Leprechaun sequel. You can tell just from watching it that they didn’t change a word of the script other than the Leprechaun filling in for whatever monster was supposed to be there. And that’s why it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Leprechaun in the Hood
I know a lot of people like to watch and have fun with this one, but it’s bad. I know it sounds ridiculous calling it bad, because it’s the fifth Leprechaun movie and it’s set in the hood, but there’s something even cheaper about it than those preceding it, despite the fact that it features Ice-T. Maybe it’s the unpleasant turn from ‘90s video camp to the unpleasant looking age of early 2000’s DTV features. Still, it’s worth watching for a truly terrible rap sequence. Sorry, Warwick.
Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood
Somehow, even despite that title, this manages to surpass its predecessor and be the better hood movie. The Leprechaun feels more in line with the early films, in that he’s funny but can be legitimately sinister as well. The makeup and costuming on the titular character is better this time around, and he just seems like the bad guy, whereas in the first Hood he felt like your buddy down the block with an unfortunate skin condition.
Leprechaun 2 is a solid follow-up to the first. It runs with the campiness and actually has the forethought to be set on St. Patrick’s Day. Warwick Davis gets to be both meaner and funnier as the Leprechaun the second time around. There are some great gore gags and while it’s going more for a comedic tone, it does fill the horror quota a little more than the first. Bonus points for the fact that Rodman Flender, the director, later went on to helm Idle Hands.
Leprechaun 3 is actually a step down in filmmaking quality from 2, but makes up for that by being ridiculously fun. It’s absurdly entertaining from beginning to end. In terms of what people expect from Warwick Davis’s take on the character and the franchise as a whole, this is the quintessential Leprechaun movie. He’s gone to all sorts of different locations over the course of the series, but Vegas was the one that really made sense. Plus, it makes absurd leaps with the mythology that weren’t seen in the previous entries. For example: His gold now grants wishes and being bitten by a Leprechaun can now turn you into one. Also, it definitely boasts the best death scenes of the series.
I love this stupid little movie. As a kid, the opening where the Leprechaun’s face is in shadow actually terrified me. When I actually watched it, I loved how fun it was. Leprechaun feels more like a ‘90s kids movie that happens to have some gore and scare sequences peppered throughout. And it feels like that because that’s what it actually is. It’s a fun, campy, ridiculous B-Movie that encapsulates the best of what those ‘90s popcorn horrors had to offer. Absurd as it is, this flick has a definite sense of charm.