Ghoulies 3: Ghoulies Go To College (1991)

The moment when Charles Band sold the rights to “Ghoulies” to Vestron Video, a company formed by an asset-stripping former HBO executive, was probably the best thing that ever happened to the franchise – not a terribly high bar to clear, admittedly. Although Vestron were no more committed to quality than Band, it turns out that just having someone else do it was it all it needed to turn the little rubber puppets into comedy stars.

This is given further credence by the choice of director being one of the Full Moon “stable”. John Carl Buechler was a special effects guy, who did a lot of the Full Moon movies (“Dungeonmaster”, “Trancers”, the “Ghoulies” themselves, “Terrorvision”, etc. etc.) and even real normal mainstream efforts (later sequels in the “Nightmare On Elm Street”, “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” series, making him perhaps the answer to an obscure trivia question). He’d previously directed a few things, including the original, not-famous-for-being-terrible “Troll” and “Friday the 13th Part VII”, too.

ASIDE: I’d be interested to know who the script was actually by – it’s credited to Brent Olson, and given it’s their only IMDB credit of any kind, I’m guessing it’s a pseudonym for a writer who was under contract to another studio, or who was either in or not in the union (depending on what sort of production this was).

So, we’re off to college! This time, the Ghoulies are literally born out of a toilet, completing the journey of that one particular prop from being on the poster but not in the movie in part 1, to being the scene of a death in part 2, to being their home in part 3. A drunk frat boy finds a comic hidden inside the wall of his toilet, starts to read the dialogue of it, the special carved toilet starts to bubble and shake, a green light emerges…then he’s called away and the ghoulies go back (this gag is repeated).

It’s a classic college raunch comedy, as we have a frat who’s on probation for doing too many pranks. Led by Skip, with support from Mookey and Kyle, they’re in competition for the Prank Week crown with the evil frat, led by Jeremy Heilman (a sort of Nazi joke, I guess). There’s the humanities teacher who’s obsessed with the occult, Professor Ragnar, the woman who wants Skip to be normal, Erin, the insanely slutty Veronica, Barcus the security guard, and so on.

The ghoulies are eventually summoned by Ragnar, although neither he or anyone else realise they’re there for a while. He demands they kill Skip, they sort of half think about doing that while killing a few other people and getting involved in the Prank Week spirit themselves. The body count is very low (four people, I think?), and while there’s the occasional bit of goo and rubbery special effects as body parts are pulled beyond normal length, there’s not a drop of blood.

There’s not a ton more to say, plot wise. I will say that the Ghoulies now talk, and are a constant Three-Stooges-esque wisecracking presence in their own scenes – this is absolutely a good thing, as their puns keep a few scenes from going flat. It’s really a comedy that uses the trappings of horror, without ever being all that gross or scary.

It’s the acting where “Ghoulies 3” really excels, though. Chief among them is movie legend Kevin McCarthy as Ragnar – he was in the late period of his career, where he was just having fun being a goofy over-actor, and he dials it up to 10 (even by his own standards) here. Evan McKenzie is a bit of a non-entity as Skip, looking like every hero of every 80s comedy combined; but the rest of the cast! Patrick Labyorteaux, soon to be a TV mainstay on a decade-plus of “JAG”, is Mookey, and Jason Scott Lee, recently seen by us in “Timecop 2”, plays completely against type as the nerd-ish Kyle. Griffin O’Neal, shortly before giving up on the movie business altogether, is excellent as one of the evil frat guys; and weirdly pleasing to the ISCFC, having a great time as Veronica is Hope Marie Carlton, who you may remember as “Taryn”, star of the early Andy Sidaris series (“Hard Ticket To Hawaii” and so on).

Much like part 2 had a famous screen debut – Mariska Hargitay – so does part 3, with a first-ever performance from Matthew Lillard, two years before his next role (he signed on as an extra, right out of high school, but someone must have liked him I guess).

I guess my main problem with “Ghoulies 3” is how the entire cast, minus the dead ones and Ragnar, doesn’t realise anything weird is going on until 74 minutes of the 93 minute running time. Not so much as “drunk guy who no-one believes” – so it goes comedy, comedy, comedy, comedy, wow there are dead people and the Professor summoned Ghoulies, end. I don’t think it works all that well, structurally. But, it is genuinely funny, the set dressing is superb and the effects (from Buechler himself) are great, it’s not boring, and is by a million miles the best Ghoulies movie so far. Well, I say so far, part 4 is directed by Jim Wynorski and all the Ghoulies are just midgets in rubber outfits, so I’m going to call it now and say part 3 is the best of the franchise.

Rating: thumbs up


Night Of The Demons 3 (1997)

Night Of The Demons draws to a close with a puzzling entry, a movie whose sole likeable or relatable character is one of the all-time great cliches – a cop with a couple of hours to go before retirement. Everyone else is utterly repellent and you’re delighted when Angela gets going and starts killing them all off; not delighted enough to make it an enjoyable experience, but you take what you can get.

Much like part 2, this has a cold open where someone unrelated to the main plot is murdered by Angela, just in case there was any doubt about whether she was alive or not. At least they don’t pretend the “death” from the previous instalment is anything more than a mild inconvenience.

The fodder for this cannon is a group of people off to a Halloween party. Now, I presume you’ve been to a few parties in your time, dear reader, and have even shared a van with a group of merry-makers – but if you’re so hostile to your “friends” that you choke one, and then inspire one of the others to hold a knife to your throat, I’d think about getting a different group of friends. It’s been a couple of days and I’m struggling to remember any of them – there’s Hostile Curtainhead; Dopey Curtainhead (referring to their ultra-90s haircuts); Woman; Black Guy; and Jason Patric lookalike. Seriously, that’s about as much characterisation as any of them deserve, and their banter in these scenes is absolutely pitiful – blame part 1’s director Kevin Tenney, returning here as writer / editor / “creative consultant”.

After picking up a couple of girls whose car broke down, things go to hell really quickly when they’re in a 7-11 and Hostile Curtainhead annoys the shopkeeper so much he pulls a gun on him – HC then grabs the shotgun and starts blasting fools, including a cop who just happened to be at the scene. Caught in the crossfire is Black Guy, who I can’t keep calling that so I’ll find out his character name…Reggie. Reggie is shot, so the gang run from the scene and rather than helping out their friend, accepting punishment or anything sensible, find a place to hole up and wait for things to cool down. Guess which remote building, looking entirely unlike it did in parts 1 and 2, they choose?

There are a number of curious choices, and because I’ve had too many long paragraphs so far, time for a couple of bullet points:

  1. The cop in the 7-11 is wearing a flak jacket, so he doesn’t die, so there’s a chance of redemption for the main characters that’s nothing more than a red herring. Why on earth would a cop going to buy snacks be wearing a flak jacket?
  2. We see the same bit of footage from parts 1 and 2, an Evil Dead style shot of an unseen thing emerging from the crematorium furnace and moving into the building. But we’ve already seen Angela, and know she’s got her full complement of supernatural powers. What does this scene achieve?

The stuff in the house is just the same old, same old. The “kids” get gradually turned into demons, to hassle the two remaining people (Jason Patric lookalike and one of the women they picked up), and the cop – who’s surprisingly smart – closes in on them. You know how it goes, if you’ve ever seen a horror movie before, and nothing remotely interesting or unusual happens. Which is an extra shame because Kevin Tenney showed real promise for a while there, but after this it was stuff like “Endangered Species” and not much else – director Jimmy Kaufman is a TV guy through and through, and it shows.

Actually, the one interesting thing is the return of Amelia Kinkade, now better known as a choreographer and pet psychic (presumably not at the same time). She appears to have largely quit acting in 1990, only returning to play this role in the two sequels, so she must have liked the part I guess? Who knows.

The thing that annoys me about this trilogy is there’s no reason for any of it. Nothing drives the plot – no reason for the demon’s presence, no reason for Angela being the face it chooses to maintain, no point to trying to defeat it, nothing. It’s a hollow experience, and part 3 doesn’t even bother explaining who Angela is or why she’s there, as if we should all be on board or have done our homework beforehand.

Among the more pointless of the horror franchises, it was still remade in the great remaking frenzy of 2006-2010 (but more on that in a few days), because nature abhors a vacuum and Hollywood abhors an original idea. If you’re really really desperate for another series, I guess give it a go? There’s much worse out there.

Rating: thumbs down

Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015)


So, we come to the end of another surprisingly durable franchise (first movie was from 1990, so it’s done pretty well to avoid a reboot). Michael Gross makes it through all five, but nothing else does, not even the “classic” Graboids. After a classic part 1, it’s been a bit sad to sit through the largely dull parts 2-4, with part 3 being the absolute pits, but can part 5 turn it round? It’s a welcome return to the ISCFC for Don Michael Paul, aka “The Director With Three First Names”, who we covered on “Lake Placid: The Final Chapter”, and who also acted in “Robot Wars”.


Burt Gummer is now a reality TV star, where he hunts Graboids and whatever else wanders across his path, teaching his viewers how to make a clay oven and cook rattlesnake out in the wild. While he never struck me as a particularly hands-on sort of guy to this point (he had lots of Army rations in his bunker in part 1, implying he wasn’t that bothered about fending for himself), it’s a decent bit of character development. His cameraman gets a better job and quits, but not before finding him a replacement…Jamie Kennedy, whose introduction is doing some “extreme” biking, like was popular 20 years ago.


Jamie Kennedy is one of those people I dislike for no particular reason. Since he was given the cool speech in “Scream”, he’s been given an almost endless series of chances – numerous starring vehicle TV shows, stand up TV specials, award hosting gigs, and “the funny guy” in tons of movies. He’s never once shown any appreciable charisma or talent, yet here he is, in 2015, still top billed in movies. Okay, not very good movies. But, if you don’t believe me, and think I’m being harsh on poor Mr Kennedy…an early starring role, “Son Of The Mask”, got him a Razzie nomination for worst actor. He hosted Activision’s E3 event in 2007 and was mocked for performing drunk and having no knowledge of Activision’s stuff. He lied about going back to the “Scream” franchise. His New Year’s Eve 2012 show is still mocked now as maybe the worst TV show ever made. There are plenty of others. Yet he’s famous and I’m an office drone who writes these for my own amusement.


So, a South African guy from their Ministry of the Environment, or whatever it is, finds Burt and asks for his help in putting down an outbreak of Ass-Blasters, who’ve popped up there; Burt’s payment will be the South Africans paying for the production of his TV show for the next three years. At the same time, a pair of local archaeologists discover a creature which is a bit like a Graboid, only longer, leaner and more intelligent (I guess).


The first thing to notice is the acting is better and the script is stronger than anything since…well, I think it’s probably the best of the sequels, but I know a lot of people like them. The South African muscle, played by Brandon Auret, is a lot of fun, as is Gross’s brother from another mother, Ian Roberts as the lunatic helicopter pilot Den. Best of all, though, is local vet Nandi, the mother of a young kid that Jamie Kennedy befriends. She’s played by Pearl Thusi, and without wanting to be too sleazy, she’s a very beautiful woman, but more importantly she’s a decent actress. Those of you (us) wanting more can see her on season 2 of “Quantico” or the South African version of “Lip Sync Battle”.


So, it’s pretty much a remake of part 2, but done better. One of the original Perfection crew goes to another country to help them sort things out, and takes a wacky friend along for the ride. Pondering why no-one bothered to learn how to fight the Graboids in the intervening 25 years, or why so few people in South Africa are aware of what must be the biggest news of the century, or why they forgot they’d already captured one at the end of part 3, are questions sadly unanswered. The Graboids, Shriekers and Ass-Blasters are a different evolutionary chain to the ones Burt’s used to, which basically means they’re taking advantage of the far superior CGI to make something which looks decent and terrifying – the difference from the terrible use of computers in part 3 is like night and day. It’s really cool to see it filmed in South Africa too, giving it a different and interesting look to what we got in the first four.


ISCFC FAVOURITE THING – the wooden guard tower! And you know it gets destroyed by a super-Graboid!


There’s a moderately interesting story behind this – the original writers, directors and producers kept trying to get their Australia-based Tremors script made with Universal, but it was stuck in development hell for a decade, until finally an exec came along who liked it, but didn’t want the original creative team to have much input at all. Perhaps they’d seen parts 2-4? So, that whole group of people walked away, and we ended up with…well, an actually decent film for once. I imagine they were a bit upset when they saw it and were like “oh, I can see why they kicked us off it now”.


If you can put up with Jamie Kennedy, who’s the least annoying he’s ever been here, then there’s a heck of a lot to like. Rips along, lots of good characters, good effects, funny occasionally, and I sort o hope they carry on with the series.


Rating: thumbs up





Leprechaun: Origins (2014)


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?


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.


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?


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



Leprechaun: In The Hood (2000)


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.


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).


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.


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


Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)


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.


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.


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).

Leprechaun 3 In Space

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)


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.


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.


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.


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