Leprechaun’s Revenge (2012) (aka Red Clover)

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After watching all seven “Leprechaun” movies, my heart honestly sank when I remembered that SyFy Channel had done one with a similar name. “Well, I’m an obsessed completist,” I thought, “so I might as well give it a go”. And I’m really glad I did! By a mile, it’s the best leprechaun-titled movie we’ve covered at the ISCFC, and there’s lots of fun little things to talk about.

 

Almost effortlessly, we’re given a short and sweet history of the leprechaun which makes more sense than any of the official series – down on their luck Irish people move to the USA but take a magical creature with them, in a sack. They suck the luck out of this creature and become rich, but one day it escapes, leaving them with nothing (presumably to share the fate of the other Irish immigrants to the USA). The leprechaun, or “luchorpan”, has been twisted by having its luck drained, thus becoming the monster we will see a little later.

 

The acting is spot-on here, with SyFy and After Dark Films hiring some strong people. Out on a hunt are Karen and her grandad, “Pop”, played by Courtney Halverson and William Devane. Halverson is great, with appearances in “True Detective” and some really interesting movies under her belt, and Devane is of course TV royalty, perhaps best known for a decade on “Knot’s Landing” (but seriously, he’s been in everything). Karen picks a red clover from the ground, which burns her hand and releases the leprechaun from his tree-root prison. And it’s on!

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Her Dad, Pop’s son, Conor, is the Sheriff, and he’s played by Billy Zane. Billy Zane! Add in a few other top-level performances, such as Azure Parsons as the Deputy, Karl Herlinger as local investigative reporter Karl, and Kelly Washington as Karen’s best friend Amanda, and this is a strong cast. Some of the high school boys are a bit cookie-cutter, but this is small potatoes for such a fun movie.

 

The red clover poison / curse causes Karen to hallucinate, and it’s done really well, tying in with the rest of the movie in a much better way than your average dream sequence.  There’s also a strong sense of humour on display, such as when the sort-of-but-not-really love interest is reading a book called “MILF” – only it stands for “Medieval Irish Legends & Folktales”. This got me thinking, “I’m sure I recognise the name of that writer” (well, I already knew who it was, but I’m trying to build up some drama for the next paragraph), so I checked and…

 

Anthony C Ferrante! Now, infinitely better known as the director of the “Sharknado” series, he wrote a few SyFy Channel movies (including “Ghostquake” and “House Of Bones”) and, in perhaps the awesomest bit of foreshadowing in SyFy history, even puts in a “Sharknado” reference in “Leprechaun’s Revenge”…a year before it was made! Karl is trying to interview the Deputy, and she mentions a tornado dropping sharks in a local lake, the dumb headline “Sharknado!”, and that’s why she doesn’t say anything to the press any more. I’d love to know how it happened, if SyFy saw the reference and decided to get Ferrante to make that movie, or it was already being planned and this was just very subtle viral marketing. Anyway.

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Unlike “Leprechaun: Origins”, this movie gets to the killing, and gets to it quickly. Gold heals the monster, so that’s why it’s so interested in taking it (unlike other Leprechaun efforts, where he just seems to like it a lot), and happily slaughters anyone who has it. People drop like flies! Including several people you expected to make it to the end, as our heroes try and find the four magic horseshoes to turn into a totem that will kill ol’ Lep – well, I say totem, they describe it as a “four leaf cleaver”, which was a working title for the movie I believe. The end of the movie takes place during a St Patrick’s Day celebration, of course, and it looks like they went to some small town and just filmed their real one, as it’s way too big to have been paid for by SyFy (talking of which, it’s fairly gross for one of theirs).

 

You can tell this was made by fans of horror, as it’s got some nice references to genre classics in there. The “Silver Shamrock” brewery is presumably a “Halloween 3” reference (okay, I know I said classics, but anyway), and there’s a shot which is lifted from the end of “The Blair Witch Project” too. IMDB also lists a reference to “The Evil Dead”, but I don’t see it myself. Kudos to Ferrante and director Drew Daywalt (whose career seems to have stalled a little after this, sadly) for giving us fans a few easter eggs.

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A word about the leprechaun itself, as you might spot from the screenshots, it’s not the highest-budget effect ever, being a guy in a suit, but it’s vastly better than the lazy old Irish stereotype of the other movies (or the frankly crappy effect in the WWE Films version). It looks like something that’s spent a few centuries in the root system of a tree, which is exactly what it’s supposed to be.

 

One last thing before we wrap this up and I tell you to go and buy this film immediately. Billy Zane, it might reasonably be said, doesn’t always look like he’s delighted to be there. He was in “Titanic”, and he maybe is a little sad at some of the paths his career has gone down – he’s sort of phoning it in a little at the beginning. But, if I was a betting man, I’d say the reason he chose this project was an absolutely amazing monologue he gets to deliver near the end, about how he lost his wife. It’s one of the more insane bits of movie dialogue I’ve ever heard, and Zane clearly loves performing it – I won’t spoil it, but it’s seriously worth the cost of admission on its own.

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So, if you were thoroughly bored of Warwick Davis’ rhyming dialogue, and also want a good movie with fun, action, and plenty of decent characters, this could be the one for you. An absolute win for SyFy, and I hope when the “Sharknado” train runs out of steam, we get more great stuff like this. Actually, that’s a terrible thing to wish on anyone – I hope Ferrante gets to work with decent budgets and his own scripts.

 

Rating: thumbs up

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Leprechaun: Origins (2014)

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So, we come to the end of yet another horror franchise. I can say with some degree of certainty that this will be the last “Leprechaun” movie – current rights holders WWE Films recently fired their only midget wrestler, and the star of this movie (apparently), Dylan Postl, Warwick Davis hopefully has enough Ricky Gervais money to not need to demean himself again, and this movie was a poorly received failure so that ought to discourage any fools in future.

 

Continuing the tradition of part 6, this is now a straight-up slasher movie, with all the classic building blocks.

  • A pre-credits kill for our (offscreen) baddie (this one featuring Emilie Ullerup, of “Arctic Air” and “Sanctuary”, a much better actor than anyone in the main body of the movie).
  • A “Meet the Meat” section
  • Four stereotypes – the obvious Final Girl, the jock boyfriend, the party girl, and the goofy guy
  • Mysterious locals!
  • A goddamn cabin in the woods
  • Running and screaming while they get picked off

Four American college students, backpacking round Ireland. Oh, sorry, “Oireland”, because this is some sorry-looking excuse for a country. The village they’re visiting, which is in a guidebook, has no roads going to it and no form of transportation better than being dropped off in the back of a truck a few miles outside. But what are those mysterious monoliths the driver won’t go past?

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A local in the pub tells them about a cave, full of amazing stone sculptures (their visit is sort of to look at Celtic artifacts) and offers to give them a ride out there the next morning. In the meantime, this apparent tourist destination has no hotels of any kind, but he has a cabin out in the woods they can stay in? What a generous fellow! Both couples have a nice argument (Final Girl and Jock, because he wants to move to the other side of the country for college; party girl and goof because he gets too drunk to have sex) and then a creature starts attacking them.

 

Up to about the hour mark, I was convinced that the thing we were seeing wasn’t the Leprechaun at all, but some minion who was killing and taking any gold they might have back to its master. But no, bearing as little resemblance to ancient legend as Warwick Davis’ version, is a burned-looking creature with a monstrous skull and a wolf-like throaty growl. Now, I don’t think there’s any need to have a wrestling-famous person under those many layers of make-up (he has zero lines of dialogue) unless you’re Andy Serkis, and Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl is no Andy Serkis. I presumed the movie was at least partly to promote one of their wrestlers, but if you weren’t paying attention through the credits, you could be forgiven for not realising this had anything to do with WWE at all. Also, we barely ever see Lep and one of the other characters in the same shot, so his shortness or otherwise is entirely irrelevant – yes, the air of “why bother?” hangs heavy over proceedings.

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But I’ve not even finished recapping yet! Well, it’s going to be more “here’s a dumb thing this movie does”, but the effect will be the same. It turns out the locals have been feeding tourists to it for years – what might be the next door cabin or the same cabin filmed very confusingly has piles of glasses, shoes and clothes in it. They seem at least a little conflicted about doing this, but…tourists have families, and in 2014 people tend to broadcast their lives a lot – did no police officers visit this town? Did the hundreds of deaths not become news? If they just wanted rid of the creature, why not set up cameras, get a shot of it and send the photo to one of those “Bigfoot Hunters” shows? A few TV people die and you’ve got yourself an international story, and a greater likelihood of properly trained people coming and taking care of the problem for you (unlike previous movies, this Lep doesn’t seem supernaturally powerful). They say, several times, that they’re providing food for Lep, but he kills several people and just leaves their bodies lying around, and how much food can a leprechaun need anyway?

 

What is, perhaps, best of all though, is the title. If I was going to make a movie called “Leprechaun: Origins”, I might, just might, put something about the origin of the leprechaun in it. But WWE Films are not ordinary filmmakers! Final Girl reads from a handily abandoned book of Celtic legend in the cabin and discusses, briefly, ‘Tuatha Dé Danann’ and says they’re what we call leprechauns. No! They’re the ancient magical kings and queens of Ireland…the thing with the word is, it actually comes from Gaelic so would be, roughly, the same. I’m dumb as hell and I knew that! Also, the love of gold thing is crowbarred in there, with an exceptionally flimsy “our mining for gold disturbed him” story, even though it’s completely meaningless to the plot and the Lep in this movie doesn’t look like he’s got any use for the stuff.

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The acting is extremely bland, with the mostly Canadian supporting cast handling Irish accents okay but the four stars…well, it’s the next morning and I couldn’t pick any of them out of a lineup. Given no-one is going to see this garbage anyway, why doesn’t one company take a few casting risks and not just hire the first four skinny vaguely attractive people to walk through the door? And a word about WWE casting. They have (or at least had, when this was made) a real Irish wrestler on the roster, who could have been used in a few scenes – instead they use a guy who’s completely hidden under makeup and has no lines. Okay, I guess?

 

Leaving the pre-credits kills out, no-one dies til almost an hour in, and even then it’s the least important of the supporting characters – we also don’t see a full-on shot of Lep til then too. The last 20 minutes is chock full of death, but by that time I’d sort of mentally checked out because the first two-thirds is so unbearably dull. How much setup did this damned story need anyway? Oh, and fans of odd credits will have something to enjoy, because despite the crew of this movie being fairly small, the credits go on for 12 minutes! When the drivers names are on screen for a solid minute, you know someone was desperately trying to pad things out to get it to feature length.

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Honestly, this made me miss Warwick Davis and his quips. In a series as rotten as this one’s been, I’m impressed it manages to find new depths to plumb. If you have to, absolutely have to, pick one of them to watch, go for part 3 and then run away.

 

Rating: thumbs down

 

Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood (2003)

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Trying desperately to think of something non-mocking to say about the last of the “classic” Leprechaun movies, it’s pretty rare to see a horror movie with an almost entirely (or even substantially) black cast. The only ones that come to mind are more comedies than they are horrors (“Vampire In Brooklyn” and “Scary Movie”) and while there’s no genre of cinema that hasn’t been guilty of whitewashing, horror seems particularly susceptible to it. If there’s more than one black person in a cast, they’re related to each other, and black people only date other black people. It’s garbage and should stop, but while we’re fighting for that better world, we can rather bizarrely give the last two Leprechaun movies some credit.

 

It turns out this was going to be set on a tropical island for Spring Break, and was only converted to “tha hood” when production company Lion’s Gate insisted. Director Steven Ayromlooi has made several movies with majority black casts since, so even though he looks like the sleaziest guy in the world in his publicity photos, our hats are doffed to him – although, it would’ve been nice if he’d not made such a thoroughly awful instalment.

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In what must be a joke, we’re treated to yet another origin story for leprechauns! They were created to guard an ancient king’s gold, but when he died most of them went back into the earth. Only one of them stuck around, causing trouble down the millennia; but before the opening credits, even he breathes his last, with four-leaf-clover-infused holy water and an incantation causing him to get dragged into the ground by a large number of unseen creatures (ending of “Jason Goes To Hell” style). His pot of gold is stuck in the cellar of an abandoned building site – a centre for kids – and don’t worry about the location, because even though you think someone’s going to spend some of that gold to build the place up again and save the community, no-one does. It at least follows on from part 5 with the juiciness of its red herrings.

 

The plot is about rival groups of drug dealers and the couple of normal women stuck in the middle. Everyone is so painfully bland that I can’t even be bothered to look up their character names – there’s Goofy Stoner, Ex-Boyfriend Dealer, Decent Woman A, Decent Woman B, and Scumbag Drug Gang. Decent Woman A, after being warned by a fortune teller to beware of easy fortune, finds the pot of gold, shares it with her friends, and they all spend it before the leprechaun emerges, dragging himself from hell because it’s a film and that’s what needs to happen for yet another sequel. There’s a huge section just following them spending their money, lots of encounters with Bad Drug Gang, and an almost excruciating last half hour where they beat up the Leprechaun, he looks dead, then he gets up and beats them up, repeat ad nauseam. There’s some slapstick where Lep re-discovers how much he likes weed, should that be your cup of tea.

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What’s moderately surprising about this movie is that Leprechaun decided, on its last instalment, to become a slasher movie. The beats are exactly the same – legend of the killer, meet the meat, fun and games, death death death, Final Girl, end. Leprechaun doesn’t seem all that bothered about getting his gold back, or indeed anything other than killing – what stands out is how few lines Warwick Davis as ol’ Lep has. Did they only hire him at the last minute so he didn’t have time to learn all that rhyming wordplay? Or did the writer just not care? He speaks as much as the average slasher villain but not as much as the average wordy Irish forest spirit, is what I’m saying.

 

It’s so thoroughly “nothing” that I can barely summon up the energy to have any reaction to it at all. The laziness shows through in two important police-related scenes. First up, Goofy Stoner is arrested about halfway through the movie and the others say they’ll do everything they can to get him out. Then, a couple of minutes later, he just pulls up in a car like he’s been on holiday, and it’s never mentioned again. Then…one of the other characters (no spoilers) is arrested near the end, but the cops die, then a bunch of other people die. But because he survived a horror movie (okay, slight spoiler) legal problems just disappear and all is well. And why do characters in horror movies never learn that if you empty a rifle into someone and they get up, that second rifle full of bullets probably isn’t going to work?

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We’ve got one more to go – 2014’s “Leprechaun: Origins”, produced by WWE Films and starring wrestler Hornswoggle (who, along with a gimmick called “The World’s Sexiest Midget”, was also a wrestling leprechaun for a while), and then hopefully that will be that, because he violated the WWE’s “wellness policy” (by failing to provide a urine sample in timescale) and was fired earlier this year. What a terrible bloody series this has been, and urine is a fine point to end on.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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Leprechaun: In The Hood (2000)

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At about the one hour point of part 4, I cheered with the realisation that I was closer to the end of the series than the beginning, and that thought – that it would all be over soon – was one of the few happy moments during part 5. Even though it’s got a fun-sounding premise – the leprechaun is trapped by a lucky human, who uses his power to become a rap mogul; 25 years later, a hungry young group of rappers accidentally frees the creature and all hell breaks loose – it’s not, to be polite, got great execution.

 

Rhyming is back! As was sort of inevitable in a movie about rap music, with…Ice-T as the second billed actor! This must have been in the wilderness years when his music career had ended but his TV career hadn’t quite started; I think he contributes a couple of songs to the soundtrack, too. I’d love to have been at that creative session, with one of the most famous “gangster” rappers of all time trying to think of words that rhymed with “leprechaun”.

 

The amulet from part 3 returns, representing the only bit of continuity in any of this series so far (he actually gets locked in a safe again, like part 2, but this time it does him no harm whatsoever). We start some time in the 70s, and a be-afro’d Ice T is raiding an abandoned cellar with a friend, based on a treasure map someone sold them (ah, why not?) They find a leprechaun “statue” and Ice-T takes the only thing he’s looking for – a small gold flute. While his buddy is packing up the rest of the gold, he takes the medallion off, Lep comes back to life, fight fight fight, friend dies and then the medallion manages to find its way back round Lep’s neck. A brief aside – when Lep comes back to life for the first time, he does a version of Martin Luther King’s “free at last” speech, to a couple of black men. I can’t tell if this is the worst attempt at a joke I’ve ever heard or just staggeringly insensitive, either way I really think they could have chosen a different line for him.

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In the modern day, our “heroes” are Postmaster P, Stray Bullet and Butch, a rap trio with a conscious, positive message they want to get across.  Thanks to Butch being a bit of a klutz, they wreck their equipment, but a chance meeting with rap supremo Mac Daddy O’Nassas (Ice-T) leads them almost to a record deal right away, only problem being Ice-T wants them to change their sound to talking about “traditional” gangster rap things, like hoes and shooting people in the face and so on. They decide, instead, to rob him and use the money to buy some new equipment, but guess what medallion they steal along with the magic flute and bags of cash? Oh, and Postmaster P thinks he’s killed Ice-T at this moment too, but that’s not all that important.

 

It’s sort of stupid to try and write sensibly about a movie that clearly cares so little about making sense. I mean, as soon as Lep is re-animated, he starts quipping about mid 90s current events, as if he hadn’t just spent the last thirty years as a statue…did no-one think of popping in a line like “for thirty years, I saw and heard all / now it’s time for you to give Satan a call”? I am available for scriptwriting duties for any future Leprechaun movie, ladies and gentlemen. Lep sees Ice-T smoking a joint at one point, tries it himself and then becomes a blunt-puffing OG for the rest of the movie; and Coolio pops up for one scene for absolutely no reason (I admit, I wasn’t paying the closest attention, so it could well have been someone watching a Coolio video on a TV, or a lifesize cardboard cutout).

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Much like so many of the movies we cover here, by the hour mark it’s shot its bolt and spends the last half-hour just running round in pointless chases and fight scenes. The people we’re supposed to be cheering on, the remaining members of the rap group, are murdering thieves, Ice T is a piece of garbage too…basically, Lep is the hero of the movie. All he wants is his money back, but no-one ever listens! Okay, he does create an army of zombie prostitutes near the end, but no-one’s perfect. I wish B-movies would figure out something better to do with their third acts. Warwick Davis tries his best, and some of his line readings are pretty funny, but it’s a complete mess.

 

The one question I’m sure popped into your head (if you bothered to think about it at all) when you heard about a Leprechaun movie “in the hood” was “oh no, he’s going to rap, isn’t he?” to which the answer is “of course he is”. After a complete bummer of an ending where the person who “wins” becomes even worse, Lep (who we saw get turned back into stone an instant ago) hops on the stage and drops a fresh rhyme on all us suckers. Is this spoiling the ending? If you care, I hate you.

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Once again, it’s not so much that it’s terrible – although it is – but that I genuinely can’t fathom why it exists. It feels like an internet meme brought to life, haha a leprechaun, right, but he’s evil, and he’s got a magic flute, and he runs into some rappers! They’re clearly aiming for that trash B-movie comedy aesthetic, but everything’s so laboured and the jokes are almost without exception terrible. We ought to demand better from our entertainment!

 

Rating: thumbs down

Lovecraft Movies: Pickman’s Muse (2010)

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One of our vague aspirations at the ISCFC is to cover every movie based on an HP Lovecraft story – this is often done on Bad Movie Monday, where my friends gather to chat and enjoy some fine cinema. Check out our tag to read the rest, if you’d like, there’s a few gems in there (2008’s “The Colour From The Dark” might be my favourite).

This could be the lowest-budget of all the Lovecraft adaptations we’ve reviewed so far. Shot on digital camera with an almost complete absence of CGI and, in classic Lovecraft fashion, horror suggested rather than just shown, it’s got a slightly confusing provenance. The DVD cover says “based on The Haunter Of The Dark”, which indeed it is, but the movie has taken its name and a few other bits and pieces (including the main character’s name and primary occupation), from another Lovecraft story, “Pickman’s Model”. “The Haunter Of The Dark” is a brilliant story, one of HPL’s greatest, and “Pickman’s Model” is sort of an interesting experiment but not a particularly fantastic story (it’s a first person monologue directed to the reader) but it’s interesting to see how the two elements will combine.

Pickman is a painter of the extremely bland subjects that hang in hotels and doctors’ offices – nothing unusual, interesting or visually disturbing. Only he’s suffering from painter’s block, and it’s not til he starts having visions of a mysterious but handily local church that his creativity is kicked into gear, with his new paintings (unseen by us) causing horrified reactions from his landlady and anyone else he shows them to. His art “dealer” says he’s doing almost exact copies of the art of Goodie Hines, who was famous, killed 8 people and is now locked up in an asylum, under the care of Dr Dexter, who’s also Pickman’s psychiatrist…

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No sense revealing any more about it to you – if you’ve not read the story, then you’ve got an interesting tale ahead. But we’re reviewers here, and the actual entertainment presented to us is decidedly ropey in all the technical aspects. The acting is completely amateur, with the honourable exception of Tom Lodewyck as Goodie Hines; Barret Walz as Pickman seems unable to remember who his character is from one sentence to the next and Maurice McNicholas as Dr Dexter could be out-acted by anyone reading this, comfortably. I suppose they could use the excuse of it being dream-like and having that odd logic, but no-one in any dream I’ve ever had acts like they’ve never spoken out loud in English before. The four pre-teen girls Pickman meets outside the church are easily the best actors in this.

The digital photography just looks cheap, with the added bonus of numerous scenes being mostly obscured by extremely strong light sources – if it’s deliberate, it’s a terrible idea and if it’s accidental then someone ought not to be working in the movies any more. I’ll happily give a thumbs up to the sound, though, which seems like a lot of thought went into it.

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I’m beginning to wonder if Lovecraft is just a bad fit for the movies. His stories involve bookish non-hero men, and much of the action is in the mind, or in suggestion, both tricky things to pull off on the screen. Something like “At The Mountains Of Madness” would require a huge budget to really do right (and if the rumours of Guillermo Del Toro trying to make it are true, then it might be the first real classic adaptation) but it seems a heck of a lot of films just don’t get it right – he’s also prone to the “Hellraiser” sequel thing of turning a non-Christian mythology into simple tales of Heaven and Hell.

Even if it were a movie based on a story by a more easily adaptable author, this would be a stinker. Even though it’s barely a movie, at 75 minutes, it drags almost unbearably, with a loud groan going round the room when we checked at what we thought must surely be the end to find out there was still more than half an hour to go. But then, after watching and really wanting to like it, but being unable to, we watched the special features on the DVD, one of which was “deleted scenes”. Now, these scenes would have both made the film a more decent length and helped explain some of the fairly thinly sketched plot, and they didn’t even put them in the finished movie! This tells you all you need to know about the people who made this – sorry, writer / director Robert Cappelletto, but this one was just no good.

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I feel like we ought to institute a new trophy, and “Pickman’s Muse” can be its first recipient. Congratulations, inaugural winner of the “Would’ve Worked Better As An Hour-Long TV Show” award! (aka “The Full Moon Award”)

Rating: thumbs down

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)

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I have to admire a movie that cares so little about establishing its own premise. And the title, too! “In Space”, as if that’s all the information you deserve or should care about. You know the routine, so let’s have some fun with the setting, right? So, with zero explanation as to why the series has leapt forward a few hundred years or why the leprechaun decided to go to space, here we are.

 

It’s quite surprising how many horror franchises have gone to space, although it’s a trend which died off hard, around the millenium. If you count “Critters” as a horror franchise, it went to and from space from the very beginning, but we’ve got “Hellraiser 4: Bloodline”, then this in the same year, then “Jason X”, not just the best of the space-set horror movies, but right at (or near) the very top of all horror franchise instalments.  Lord knows why they did it, but I’d be happy if they carried the tradition on. “Paranormal (And Extraterrestrial) Activity”! “Cabin (On A Spaceship) Fever”!

 

Fans of super-cheap CGI will have a field day with this one, as right at the beginning a bunch of ships and planets pass by our…heroes? That’s a pretty strong word for them. They’re marines who are working for a mining company, I think, and are trying to track down some alien that’s been disrupting their mining operations. Of course, the “alien” is the leprechaun (never referred to as such throughout the movie, tedious information fans) and as we meet him he’s romancing the Princess of a local planet. He wants power, she wants gold, and they both plan to kill the other after the wedding ceremony so it’s a match made in heaven.

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The marines turn up, blow the leprechaun to pieces and wound the Princess. The marine unit has a tradition of urinating on the corpses of their victims, but few of those victims are immortal Irish spirits, so the leprechaun’s life-essence travels up the urine stream and a few minutes later he busts out of the hapless marine’s crotch (“Alien” style). There’s Dr Mittenhand, who might be the boss of the mining company, but is definitely a mad scientist (looking like a cross between Davros and Dr Strangelove) and he wants to use the unconscious Princess’s DNA to regenerate his own horribly crippled body. You know, normal stuff. And so the movie grinds on.

 

It seems that the makers of “Leprechaun 4: In Space” decided that originality was overrated and just decided to rip off lots of famous sci-fi movies and TV shows. There’s “Alien” and “Aliens”, of course (marines sent to kill alien on other planet); “Doctor Who” (the look of Mittenhand); “Star Wars” (the leprechaun inexplicably uses a lightsabre in one scene); and even “Red Dwarf” (large mining ship, plus the way Mittenhand communicates with the crew in the first act). I guess when you’ve ceased caring to this extent, you might as well double down on the laziness.

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To accompany the miserable script and cheap effects, we’ve got some rotten acting too. The only two people who understand what sort of ludicrous movie they’re in and act accordingly are Guy Siner (“Allo Allo”) as Mittenhand and Rebecca Carlton (“Baywatch”) as Princess Zarina; the Marine Sergeant, referred to in the credits as “Metal Head” – due to half his skull having been replaced with a metal plate, so fair enough – is sort of okay but everyone else is just boring, complete wastes of space who think they’re in “Aliens”.

 

I’m firmly of the opinion that a wacky concept doesn’t excuse you from not making any sense. Look at “Crank”, one of the most OTT movies ever, but it’s a completely logical premise. Here, the leprechaun seems obsessed with his pot of gold…despite being on a planet apparently largely made of the stuff. It feels like the scriptwriter just went “ah, screw it” and wrote down the first thing that came into his head; and director Brian Trenchard-Smith, returning from part 3, seems to have given up too (which makes part 3’s relative quality all the more surprising).

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I just don’t understand why it exists. Well, I think it’s to throw stuff at the screen and try and get a camp so-bad-it’s-good hit – for instance, “Metal Head” is brainwashed into doing a drag act, and from then to the end of the movie, keeps alternating between a non-hilarious “gay voice” and their normal gruffness. Mittenhand gets transformed, thanks to a spider and scorpion being dropped in his DNA soup, into a monstrous creature. The Leprechaun gets turned giant. The easiest way of spotting no-one had any idea what they were doing – it’d be relatively simple (and quite good) to put the Leprechaun and “Mittenspider” together as the big fight at the end…but they don’t. The one plus is the leprechaun doesn’t rhyme all his dialogue, even though it’s still terrible. But the leprechaun being, y’know, a leprechaun, barely factors into the movie at all.

 

It feels like a smart 13-year-old trying to shock his parents – quite fun in places, but ultimately pointless and tiring.

 

Rating: thumbs down

Leprechaun 3 (1995)

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In what may be the lowest bar to clear in movie history, this is the best Leprechaun movie so far. It has a couple of sections I quite liked, a few decent performances and some funny lines. Now, this is a very long way from saying it was good, but at least we’ve got something to work with this time and I don’t just want to cry myself to sleep.

 

The leprechaun is what I can only assume is yet another different character played by the same actor, as he was blown up at the end of the last one. Or melted, I honestly don’t remember. Anyway, when we meet him, he’s been turned to stone by a magic medallion and sold to a pawn shop in Las Vegas, and of course the pawn shop owner removes the medallion and hijinks ensue. Luckily, the Indian pawn shop owner has a CD-rom about “Legends And Folklore”, so via the wonders of mid-90s flash animation we’re treated to yet another entirely different backstory for our Irish friends – this time, it’s destroying their gold that will kill them, not four-leaf clovers or wrought iron. Ho hum.

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The main couple don’t so much have a meet-cute as a meet-stupid. He’s a hayseed who’s driving through Vegas on his way to college in California, and she’s a magician’s assistant whose car broke down at the side of the road. He offers her a ride and asks her to sneak him into the casino where she works – he’s apparently under 21, although looks 30. They’re both shockingly bad actors – John Gatins is “Scott McCoy” and Lee Armstrong is “Tammy Larsen”, and the nowhere their careers went would bear this out (Armstrong wouldn’t work again after 1995, and Gatins has hung around the bottom rung of Hollywood – he does have a good self-awareness of how terrible he is, though).

 

So, he loses his college tuition money, and then goes to pawn his watch across the road, and discovers the near-dead pawn shop owner, the pot of gold and the leprechaun, who tears his arm open and…maybe?…infects him with “leprechaun-ism”? I’m really not sure, that scene was weirdly edited. So, the action switches from the shop to the casino, with a decent cast of supporting characters – the owner of the casino, who owes a couple of gangsters some money; and the crappy stage magician; the middle-aged croupier who wishes her boobs were more pert. The gangsters in particular are very well-judged comic relief, and the magic, when we see it, is also funny in its badness.

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What director Brian Trenchard-Smith (last seen by us in “Drive Hard”, but most famous as director of “Turkey Shoot” and “Dead-End Drive In”) has done is made Las Vegas look like the most miserable place on Earth. No-one seems to like being there, and everyone treats everyone else like scum (with the exception of our central couple). Much like “Jason Takes Manhattan”, the actual amount of footage filmed in Vegas itself is tiny, a few scenes of the Leprechaun cackling and running around the streets, and most of it is indoors, in a grimy casino or a pawn shop. By the way, I reckon a Las Vegas pawn shop would be probably the most depressing place ever to work. So the characters run between these locations, trying to find the missing coin that grants wishes (although, it seems each character only gets about half an hour to enjoy their wish before they get brutally murdered – I can’t help but think if that was part of the legend, no-one would dare touch one of his coins).

 

What it does have is lots and lots of really bad rhyming puns, same as the previous two films; but there are some good moments astonishingly. The Leprechaun takes over a TV at one point and broadcasts fake adverts starring himself, and when confronting Scott near the end, he says “come over to the green side”. The scene where he does the chainsaw “trick” with the magician is funny too…it felt rather peculiar to laugh at, not with, a “Leprechaun” movie.

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Just so we don’t do anything stupid like give this a thumbs-up, there are some very odd moments. The obsession with potatoes has its origin with jokes about the Irish potato famine and certainly could be seen as offensive to Irish people (as is the modern depiction of the leprechaun, if we’re being honest). And the two main actors really drag every scene they’re in down, with Armstrong particularly looking and acting like a very poor man’s Elizabeth Shue. It’s a film of two halves – when the leprechaun’s not on screen, everything is great.

 

If literally the only movies you have access to are the first three in this series, pick this one. Otherwise, just avoid.
Rating: thumbs in the middle

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Leprechaun 2 (1993)

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After this series, I promise, I’m going to try to pick films to review that I think might be halfway decent. To get to the funny-sounding “Leprechaun” movies – part 4 in space, 5 and 6 in tha hood, and let’s be honest they probably won’t be very good either – we completists must wade through three catastrophically misjudged “comedy” “horror” efforts, of which this is part 2. I promise to either be entertaining or short.

 

Okay, so despite being the same actor, the leprechaun is an entirely different character. A thousand years ago, he had a slave (someone who tried to steal his gold and failed) and decided to take a wife, as leprechaun law dictates. Sneeze three times without someone saying “god bless you”, and you’re the leprechaun’s for all eternity. Sucks, eh? So, he almost gets his woman, but the slave, who it turns out is the woman’s brother, saves her only to get brutally killed for his trouble. So far, so…good? I mean, it’s good to know people made lame-ass quips a thousand years ago, but the writing on these movies has been absolutely pitiful.

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“1000 years later”, in modern LA. The leprechaun has made it to the US via a tree sent by the people of Killarney to Harry Houdini in the 1930s – don’t ask what he was doing in the intervening time, or indeed how he spent the last 60 years – and he’s ready for another try at the whole wife thing. Pretty much straight away, he sees the lovely-ish Bridget and falls in love, although she’s got a boyfriend, the sad-sack Cody, who works for his Uncle Morty (Sandy Baron, a veteran who also did a great turn in “Vamp”) doing a crappy tour of spots where famous people died. Cody accidentally takes a piece of the leprechaun’s gold, and then it’s shenanigans in remarkably similar fashion to the first movie, with Bridget mostly trapped inside the leprechaun’s tree-root house, and Cody getting terrorised inside his home, and a few other equally unappealing locations.

 

It’s really barely worth recapping. It completely ignores the first movie – our small friend is now completely susceptible to wrought iron, rather than four-leaf clovers; and instead of being cursed with leprechaun-ism, they’re now a separate race who can have children (although, if you can only “get married” once every thousand years, leprechaun babies must be an extremely rare occurrence). Logic is tossed merrily out of the window and every bit of entertainment is expected to be got from seeing Warwick Davis dance and quip about, and a surprisingly large amount of gore.

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There’s little worse than a comedy that isn’t funny, and this is really not funny. Although it did get me to learn a little about leprechauns, and how they’re a relatively modern invention – the first use of the word in English was 1604, and the word can maybe be tracked a few hundred years further back in Irish (an 8th century water spirit seems to be the first creature to use a version of the word). They originally wore read and every modern version of them – including this movie – is based on racist and derogatory portrayals of the Irish in the late 19th century.

 

So now we’ve all learned a little something, this review wasn’t a waste. Unlike the 90 minutes it took me to watch it. Amazingly, director Rodman Flender also did “Idle Hands”, one of my favourite horror-comedies ever, before becoming a full-time TV guy – also the fate of the two writers, who’ve worked solidly on stuff like “The Vampire Diaries” for years. I wish one of them had used a few of those good ideas on this movie!

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Rating: thumbs down

 

PS – oh, there is one good thing about this movie, and that’s the title right at the top of the page. For no reason that I can fathom other than the first movie was terrible, it was renamed “One Wedding And Lots Of Funerals” for its VHS release – surely the most entertaining thing about it.