April 4, 2023 Leprechaun – Still Full Of Charms 30 (Little) Years Later
The year was 1993 – A time when the sun seemed to never set, a time where every day was as beautiful as the day before, and a time when tons of original, genuinely-made-out-of-love movies filled the giant screens of movie theatres all across the world. This was also the year that on January 8th when the infamous production company Trimark Pictures released and distributed the Horror movie Leprechaun to the unsuspecting and pleasantly surprised people of the Horror community. While leprechauns are usually known to be sweet, little creatures with an unhealthy obsession with gold, this 1993 movie showed what would happen if these jolly magical creatures were actually murderous little monsters that were more likely to give stitches… rather than granting wishes.
The fact is Leprechaun was the first time anyone was getting the chance to see a wee leprechaun out on a murdering spree which naturally led swarms of Horror-thirsty fans to the theaters to witness such a thing. This is especially since anyone watching television quite possibly had the pleasure of seeing the movie trailer during various commercial breaks of the hit television series Married…With Children.
Reflecting back, the movie trailer starts with a deep-voiced narrator speaks in an ominous, creepy tone, laying out the premise in not so many words. This is all while snippets of different fright-filled scenes splay across the screen, showing a peculiar monster dressed in green scaring the ever-loving pants off everyone in its path. A compelling hook, this well crafted trailer showed what looked to be a bona-fide Horror version of a beloved, wish-granting character. Although, to the dismay of many in the audience, nearly no one was prepared for the goofball humor sprinkled throughout the film. However, it will be this goofball humor aspect and its magical movie-charm that threw Leprechaun into the Horror spotlight upon its first release, thus making it a fan-favorite for 30 years.
In fairness, to describe Leprechaun as being a Horror/Comedy could be seen as blasphemy. Although the film is lightly saturated in humor, there is a certain sense of genius in how well the funny meshes with the horror which perfectly balances one another. In comparison, Leprechaun can be seen more like 1987’s Evil Dead II when it comes to how well goofy can work while also being a wee bit scary and a wee bit serious. What helps to make these genres come so well together is how straight-faced and afraid the protagonists appear in the movie while being chased by a riddle-rhyming, almost-playful evil leprechaun. One scene in particular that balances both humor and seriousness, is when shoes are being thrown at the leprechaun to buy some time for an escape—a scene that plays out so genuinely serious, it makes it hard for the viewer to hold back tears laughing while watching the leprechaun frantically shining every shoe thrown in its direction while being in a weird, playful trance.
The humor in Leprechaun is not its main feature, though, for it is only when the leprechaun sadistically shouts out quirky riddle-quips before offending someone in a very funny and sadistic way that pushes the humor. What really puts Leprechaun on a whole other level of cult-favorite status is the entire cast of actors found within each scene. Many of whom were known way before the movie even came out, and one of whom went on to TV stardom years later. However, a retrospective about one of the greatest Horror characters ever made would not be without mentioning the true star of the show.
For those who have yet to see this gem of a movie will surely be welcomed to seeing legendary Actor Warwick Davis (Willow 1988, Skinned Deep 2004) shine strong and proud as the evil leprechaun, spewing out funny yet quirky limericks in an Irish-y accent as he hunts the people who had stolen his gold. In one fell swoop, Davis completely immortalized this fictional character. He was not only acting out a written part, he became the part, adding in his own twist of humor and charm to the role further cementing Leprechaun into the Horror Hall of Fame.
Davis loved portraying the evil leprechaun so much, he would go on to star in five Leprechaun sequels. Naturally, most of those sequels were released straight-to-video, with the exception of the very-underrated 1994 sequel Leprechaun 2; and through it all, Davis has since shown his devotion to these movies, and has been very open in how much he loved being in the black-buckled shoes of his leprechaun character.
In an ironic twist, however, Davis can also be seen cozying up to and befriending a father/daughter team in the Fantasy/Comedy movie A Very Unlucky Leprechaun (1998). What makes this so ironic, and a fun fact, is that this movie came out almost two years after Davis was seen charming a gold-hungry princess and killing foolish people in the overlooked, very bonkers sequel, Leprechaun 4 (1996). And while Davis has since been proud of and devoted to his role as the evil leprechaun all these many years later, there would not be a Leprechaun without its creator.
If ever there were a magical clover granting an artist a movie-dream come true, then this clover was in the hands of the ever-lucky, multi-talented Writer-Director Mark Jones when he first came up with the idea of Leprechaun over 30 years ago; an idea that put a brand new Horror creature near the ranks and likes of Horror icon demons Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger in the matter of only a year of release. The attraction of this original, new creature helped Leprechaun to earn over seven times its $1,000,000 budget at the box office, becoming a wondrous success and a big score for everyone involved in making the movie. Even more, Leprechaun was also the first movie released during the year 1993.
Interestingly enough, before Leprechaun even saw fruition, Mark Jones was no stranger to the film industry. This guy wrote episodes for countless television shows, such as The Misfits Of Science (1985), Werewolf (1987), and The Highwayman (1988), but there is a possibility he has always been a kid at heart from the start. Not only was Jones writing for live-action-type TV stuff, he was also writing episodes for cartoons, including Heathcliff (1985), Turbo Teen (1984), and Police Academy: The Animated Series (1988), just to name only a few. Important to mention, this cartoon-like humor influence is exactly what Horror fans would later witness in Leprechaun.
Although Jones had loads of credits raked in from countless teleplays and writing duties throughout his early years, Leprechaun was his first time behind the chair directing his actors in a Horror movie stemming from an idea possibly created around the year 1985. This idea would later have Jones working with rising Actress Jennifer Aniston (Friends series, Office Space 1999), starring in her first lead role. This idea even had Jones working with Ken Olandt (April Fool’s Day 1986, Summer School 1987); one of the hardest working and underrated actors in the business. Starring as love-interest to Anniston in the film, on-screen chemistry between Aniston and Olandt makes for a fun-filled, goofy romance that is both endearing, and a hoot to watch.
All in all, Leprechaun is one of those rare movies that was able to confuse Horror enthusiasts with its goofy antics and win over an audience all at the same time. Spawning five direct sequels, one useless reboot, and one useless, late-entry sequel, Horror fans and moviegoers alike can never resist the charm of Mark Jones’s original creation, and because of this Leprechaun remains extremely popular to this day. There is a ton of movie-magic gold found lying in every scene, including the characters, set-designs, and locations. All of these factors and more take on a life of their own, making Leprechaun feel even more wholesome.
However, if the movie Leprechaun can teach anyone something, it would be to never, ever take or steal the gold found in a pot at the end of a rainbow. Why? Because then you might have to answer to the murderous leprechaun lurking in the bushes.