With Saint Patrick's Day only a day away, many Irish and non-Irish Americans have begun preparing lavish meals of corn-beef and cabbage, drafts of beer, and coloring non-green things green in anticipation for the festivities that are nigh upon us. However, one aspect of this great and well-celebrated holiday that seems to get swept under the rug every year is "What are we going to watch while we're busy speaking in faux Irish accents and drinking our Shamrock shakes?" This, gentle readers, is where Mark Jones 1993 disasterpiece 'Leprechaun' unfortunately comes into the picture.
A horror comedy that is neither frightening nor scary, Jones' 'Leprechaun' stars the underrated and exceedingly talented Warwick Davis as the titular monster. After being released from his temporary prison, the Leprechaun then spends 92 excruciating minutes reinforcing every negative Irish stereotype as he attempts to reclaim "his pot o' gold" from a young Jennifer Anniston (who makes her film debut) and some other people you've probably never heard about and will never hear about again.
Since the original film, the Leprechaun film series (yes, there are literally like five or six of these things) has taken on a decidedly more "comedic" and "over-the-top" turn, forgoing scares and frights and instead playing the demented Leprechaun character up for laughs and comedy (and in their defense, they've had some success with this). However, in Jones' original film the comedic elements that would soon become a staple of the series are nigh existent. Certainly there are moments in the film that are meant to illicit laughs from the audience, but in truth these cringe-worthy and decidedly unfunny moments only illicit screams of righteous indignation from those few who actually rented this film and then sat through the whole picture.
Though Warwick Davis's performances in the later films are campy enough to actually be fun and entertaining, it's obvious that he had no real joy or fun playing the character in the first movie, his performance nowhere near as over-the-top, ridiculous or entertaining in the original as it is in the series later films (FYI: the later films see Davis' Leprechaun character "in outer freaking space" and "the ghetto"--twice in the latter!). Though Davis occasionally musters up enough enthusiasm to get a laugh or a fright out of the audience, it's obvious from his performance in Jones' film that he either hates the character or doesn't think it's worth his time (which is probably true), and as such, the film suffers as a result.
Jennifer Aniston, who would go on to have a successful television and semi-successful movie career, doesn't fair much better than Davis. As mentioned before, this is Aniston's first foray into cinema, and that fact becomes painfully obvious when one sees her performance in Jones' film. Though she does a far better job than the rest of the cast, this isn't saying much given how lackluster all of their performances were. Stilted, a bit awkward at times, she doesn't so much say her lines as merely read them, and -- like Davis -- it's obvious from her less than enthusiastic performance that she probably didn't think much of the movie, and more likely than not regrets making it.
There are no real scares or frights to be written about, no memorable scenes or interesting deaths; ultimately, Jones' film comes off as being nothing more than a generic slasher film where a psychopathic killer (who just happens to be a Leprechaun) chases a bunch of people around and then kills them one by one without offering the audience anything remotely akin to tension or revulsion. Its comedic moments misguided, its scares underwhelming, "Leprechaun" is what it title says it is and nothing more. Although the franchises' sequels are by no means masterpieces, at least Davis appears to be having fun in those films, and the murders and violence are so over-the-top and ridiculous that one can enjoy the films as a form of ironic comedy. However, the original film has none of the over-the-top violence or campy comedy of 'Leprechaun 4: In Space' (1996) or 'Leprechaun: Back 2 the Hood' (2003) (be honest, you thought I was kidding earlier when I said the character goes into outer space and the ghetto, didn't you?).
Schlock without shock or laughs, 'Leprechaun' might serve as some suitable background noise during a small gathering or get-together this holiday season, but as a film in and of itself, it isn't worth the time and effort to sit still and watch it. If you want laughs, check out the insane sequels, because they're so impossibly bad and ridiculous that one can't help but laugh while watching them. But if its genuine scares you're after, then you'll be hard-pressed to find any in this film, or in any of the other 'Leprechaun' movies.
Find the nearest Blockbuster near your home so you can rent this film almost immediately. Or, if you prefer that movies came to you instead, set up a Netflix account and start your ordering as soon as possible.