Leprechaun Collection: Leprechaun Review
"The wee people have their magical ways!" Iceland has its trolls but Ireland has leprechauns. It's something, I suppose, but on a scale of magical creatures of limited stature they're only just preferable to having a Paul Daniels. Even then, that's only due to their stripy tights, brass buckles and suit of green being only slightly less awful than Daniels' sparkly purple and, of course, to their full head of ginger hair being less inclined to fall unexpectedly onto a participant in magic than Daniels' hairpiece. Still, that doesn't make us any happier about the fate of our wee folk. Like fairies, stories about leprechauns may once scared children over a fireside story or kept them awake at Halloween but they are now no more threatening than the Hamburglar. Parents turn to stories about child-snatchers and paedophiles to scare their children while leprechauns stare out of cereal boxes, cartoons and comic-horror movies, particularly so with Warwick Davis crying out, "I wants me gold!" and killing his victims with the aid of a pogo stick.
Davis stars as the titular Leprechaun, who opens this film without his gold and upset at having been tricked by Irishman-abroad Daniel O'Grady. Having pushed O'Grady's wife down a set of stairs and helped himself to a pot of O'Grady's tea, O'Grade imprisons the little green man within a box sealed with a four-leafed-clover. Attempting to set the box alight, O'Grady screams out, "Burn in Hell, you little green bastard!" but before he can set the leprechaun alight, the match goes out and O'Grady collapses to the ground. A stroke has seen to his plans for the leprechaun and while paramedics escort O'Grady to hospital, the leprechaun waits to be set free.
Ten years later, JD and his daughter Tory (Jennifer Aniston) buy the O'Grady house, unaware of its history and of the little man living in a crate in the basement. Helping JD and Tory prepare their new home are painter Nathan (Ken Olandt), his younger brother Alex (Robert Gorman) and his friend Ozzie (Mark Holton), who has something of a history for troubling the police with stories about alien invasions. As luck would have it, though perhaps not the luck of the Irish, it's Ozzie who hears the leprechaun crying out for help from within his crate in the basement. And it's Ozzie who lets him out. Not too happy at being locked in a box for ten years, the leprechaun warns Ozzie that if he doesn't tell him where his gold is, he'll bite off his ear and make a shoe from it! Ozzie escapes and tries to warn everyone...but no one believes him. Outside the house, Ozzie and Alex follow a rainbow 'til its end and fit a bag of gold pieces. Ozzie bites one, ending up swallowing it, while the leprechaun regains his strength and sets it to recover his hundred gold pieces.
Never mind my grumbling. It's perfectly obvious that this is no more a serious a slasher movie than a typical episode of Terry And June. Warwick Davis hasn't half been in some shit movies and had some awful parts in otherwise good films but he somehow strikes just the right tone in Leprechaun, keeping his tongue firmly in his cheek and dancing about in such a ridiculous manner as to suggest that he alone recognised this as a comedy. That he, as a Leprechaun originally schooled in shoemaking, can't pass a pair of boots without quickly polishing them, no matter how this interrupts his meddling, is but one example of the comedy in Leprechaun and of Davis pitching his performance at the right level. On the other hand, Jennifer Aniston is so bad that, if your cat watched this, it might cry. Granted, Aniston was no comedian even when playing for laughs in friends but she's hopeless in this, wailing while Davis wisecracks. And with a jaw line only slightly smaller than that of Desperate Dan, her sex appeal is limited. I'd rather sleep with the leprechaun.
Still, with Davis slashing his way through the movie, Leprechaun entertains. But not quite enough. His making of a little go-kart, in so short a time as to shame the A-Team into thinking twice about their need for cabbage-cannons and the like, is a highlight, as is his using of it to ram Nathan's truck. That director Mark Jones served some of his apprenticeship on The A-Team may only be a coincidence. But I think not. Still, the physics of this may be rather suspect - he doesn't just dent the door of the pick-up but sends it spinning across the yard - but it's one of the few occasions when the movie steps up to match Davis' silliness. Too often, though, the movie seems to plod along, shooting the Leprechaun for no more reason than to keep him still while the characters bumble from one location to the next, even to making it away from the farm to a rest home to expand the plot a little more.
There's not quite enough gore either. The Leprechaun may not have the patience to wait for Ozzie's digestive system to produce the coin that he swallowed but rather than stick his hand up Ozzie's arse to pull out the coin, which would have deservedly bumped the score up a point or two, he slashes at his face with such a lack of technique that he would have done better had he just scribbled on his cheeks with a red felt-tip pen. It all ends with our lot searching for a four-leafed clover to end the Leprechaun's night of terror. On the performance to date, they stand no more chance of finding such a thing than they can safely juggle wildcats but somehow they luck out. "I'll not rest 'til I have me gold!" Davis would return but would bring with him a story that made much more of the comedy.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 4:3, Leprechaun isn't well-served on DVD. In what little there is to read about the film, it seems to have been a widescreen release into cinemas but which has been panned-and-scanned for this release. Mind you, this isn't Halloween, a film in which John Carpenter made full use of his widescreen framing, so there's never the feeling that the viewer is actually missing very much but there is a noticeable amount of panning around the screen. Otherwise, though, this isn't that bad. The colours are good and the picture is actually fairly sharp and clean. The print itself is in reasonable condition, which makes it all the more disappointing that the picture is fullscreen. The film is presented in DD2.0 and with English subtitles and is fine in its presentation of the dialogue and little bits of action but there's little else on the soundtrack.
There are no extras on this DVD release.