Where was Jennifer Aniston before she became rich and famous on a generically-titled sitcom? Well, like a lot of us, she was being pursued by a demonic little Leprechaun (Warwick Davis) who was horny to get his gold back. The question is, should Aniston be embarrassed by this movie? Sure! (Though I would be more embarrassed by Friends, personally).
Released in theaters on January 8, 1993, Mark Jones’s Leprechaun is a delightful little flick, and it’s sort of a guilty pleasure, like fast food…only on a screen. Maybe you want to win credibility by scoffing at it publicly, but deep down, don’t you envy the sinister sprite as he hops on a person’s chest with a pogo stick? Wait…you don’t? Oh well, that’s just me making an awkward public confession for the FBI to add to its ever-growing file on me, I guess.
Anyway, that person who got pogo-sticked is Joe the pawnshop owner (John Voldstad), and here’s the glorious scene in question:
Is Leprechaun in the Horror Pantheon?
My quick answer is yes, Leprechaun deserves to be in the horror pantheon, if only for that pogo stick scene alone. Sure, he only crushes the man’s lungs in that scene, rather than causing him to ooze out like a tube of toothpaste…but the scene’s a keeper, much like the Lep himself! The character may even illustrate the deadliness of greed and possessiveness, as the Leprechaun would surely have killed his own mother if he felt she was getting between him and his precious coinage.
By the end of the movie (which all horror fans should see at least once), the other characters really have nothing to save but themselves. They may be ordinary, relatively well-meaning, decent people, but they cross paths with a vicious fairytale character they struggle to comprehend. And why would they fully comprehend what’s going on, anyway? What a mind-warping experience it would be, and what a savage chain of events that unfolds over just a few little coins!
Meeting The Leprechaun
We first meet the Leprechaun when a random Irish guy named Dan O’Grady (Shay Duffin) wrongly thinks he has the upper hand over the mythic miscreant. Of course, by the end, Danny and his wife (Pamela Mant) wind up paying the ultimate price. Here we get a taste of the Lep’s sadistic, wrathful ways and already know he’s imbued with magical powers. He escapes plenty of times in this film, and in future installments, and so do his fans (though, of course, some Leprechaun films will be deemed far superior to others).
At the end of the day, we know leprechauns don’t really exist (I hope), but we still wouldn’t want to be hunted by this one. Because he’s a Freddy Krueger-like quipster, he is no doubt a polarizing figure for some. He’s been to Vegas, outer space, “the ‘hood” (twice, actually), and usually it’s to chase his missing gold (though some stories add extra motivations, including attempts by the lecherous Lep to acquire a wife). The Leprechaun still hasn’t headed to Hawaii, but who knows? There may be room for some Maui malevolence at some point, even if Warwick Davis no longer fills those fancy shoes.
What Else Does LEPRECHAUN (1993) Have To Offer? Pt. 1: Ozzie and the Rest
Horror movies are famous for having disposable, unlikable characters. Though some would say Leprechaun is no different, I sort of disagree. The non-villain characters of Tory (Aniston), Nate (Ken Olandt), Ozzie (Mark Holton), and Alex (Robert Hy Gorman) are somewhat memorable, especially for a silly movie like this. In fact, I’ll dare say they are a small part of Leprechaun‘s success, outside of Warwick Davis’s killer performance.
This is especially true for Ozzie and Alex, who are probably the two main characters to root for (if you’re not fully on the Leprechaun’s team, that is). Personally, I still have not seen Leprechaun Returns, in which Ozzie also returns, so I won’t get into that much. I’ll just say that Ozzie really went through some trauma here. Then again, all the regular humans do, including poor old Dan O’Grady!
Pt. 2: Is The Lep’s Cringy Cleverness a Key to Success?
Though I doubt Leprechaun was number 1 at the box office, I do recall Wayne and Garth highlighting the movie on Saturday Night Live, and Wayne’s World was actually pretty huge at the time (people forget that). It’s also a bit silly that the critics spoke so poorly of this movie because you can easily find far worse horror films out there without even trying. Really, just pick one at random from the trash pile and you’ll quickly find something 10 times worse. Hell, the acting isn’t even so bad in this!
So even though Leprechaun didn’t make the critics happy, and Lep never got a “happy meal” promotional tie-in at that clownish burger restaurant, this movie was powerful enough to launch a franchise. It’s also a less-than-subtle reminder of the dangers of perceived debts. If the Leprechaun wants his gold and thinks you’ve got it, he’s going to collect it, and you are going to regret it. It’s just business, baby!
As with most successful businessmen (he is a cobbler by trade), the Leprechaun leaves a trail of sorrow and devastation in his wake, but also some products that some people enjoy. He kills people for his gold while corporate fatcats and politicians sell this country off to the highest bidder. It’s an unfortunate fact, but it’s science, people!
What are your thoughts on Leprechaun? Would you steal his gold? Tell us in the comments!