Captain Spaulding's Cinematic Gutter

→ in

Leprechaun Series

(Mark Jones, 1993)

Jennifer Aniston, pre-Friends, pre-rhinoplasty, pre-acting ability, is a spoiled daddy's girl on a secluded ranch being terrorized by an evil leprechaun hellbent on retrieving his stolen gold coins. Joining her are 3 Guys That Paint: a Kevin Sorbo-lookin' motherf**ker who quickly becomes the love interest, his kid brother, and a mentally-handicapped man-child named Ozzie. After them is Warwick Davis in culturally-appropriated Irish garb and a day's worth of grotesque make-up, acting his little damn ass off as he scurries about wreaking havoc with impish glee. Nothing about this movie makes any damn sense. For long stretches it feels like a children's film with its silly antics, slapstick humor, and general naivety, then suddenly there's a burst of gore in graphic close-up. The leprechaun's magic manifests itself in the lamest ways, such as teleporting to a car so that he can roller skate behind it, or by welding together a demolition-style go-kart with farm tools in record speed. The absence of his gold coins supposedly weakens his magic, but I think that's either an excuse to skimp on the special-effects or the leprechaun simply enjoys getting his hands bloody by offing fools the old-fashioned way. A four-leaf clover is the leprechaun's kryptonite. He also has an uncontrollable impulse to shine shoes, which is used against him in one of many bizarre WTF sequences. Leprechaun is like a nightmarish version of a Lucky Charms commercial created for (and by?) demented special-needs children. I enjoyed its absurdity, although Iím not sure which fact surprises me more: That this movie spawned numerous sequels, or that Jennifer Aniston became one of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Best Kill: Death by Pogo Stick

Leprechaun 2
(Rodman Flender, 1994)

Once upon a time in Ireland, our favorite leprechaun placed a curse on his human slave, vowing to marry the man's offspring in one thousand years. Why such a long wait? Beats me. Why has the leprechaun been hiding inside a tree dedicated to Harry Houdini? No clue. Why is there not a single mention of the previous film's events? Who cares. (There's a theory that this is an entirely different leprechaun, which would explain the different mythology and newfound abilities/weaknesses of the miniature monster, but I think the most probable explanation is creative laziness.) In some ways Leprechaun 2 is an improvement over its predecessor. The budget is noticeably larger. The world is less constrained. The kills are more bizarre and there's a brief bit of boobage. Yet I found this offering less enjoyable. Perhaps that's the novelty already wearing off. Or maybe I just missed the playful charm of the original. This iteration of the leprechaun is more sadistic. He speaks almost entirely in eye-rolling limericks. He can't hold his liquor. Women are forced to become his bride simply by sneezing three times without a "bless you." (To see if that trick works for me, Iíll soon be blowing pollen in the face of every babe I encounter.) Despite some fun sequences, most of the movie is a slog. The plot follows a standard save-the-princess formula as our useless female character is sought and rescued by a wet-blanket protagonist. Even Warwick Davis, the lifeblood of the series, gives a less inspired performance than his first go-round, as you can already see the mirthful energy in his eyes yielding to cynical dollar signs, much like the gold-obsessed monster he embodies.

Best Kill: Motorboating Mower Blades

Leprechaun 3
(Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1995)

Thanks to a magical medallion and a complete disregard for continuity, our leprechaun is now a stone statue inside a pawn shop on the Las Vegas strip. After an act of greed returns the Irish imp to his original form, he bludgeons the shop owner to death, spits some naughty rhymes, then storms Sin City in search of his stolen shilling, while setting aside enough time to rack fat stacks of chips at the closest craps table. ("This is my kind of place -- crooked and sleazy! Stealing gold from humans is awfully easy!") Leprechaun 3 is the first in the series to abandon aspirations of being a proper horror film, instead committing wholeheartedly to the campy, comedic potential of its premise. We've got our hottest heroine yet, exploding butts and titties, potato addictions, human slot machines, glowing green excrement, werewolf-like transformations, brainwashed stripteases, killer f**k bots; along with important life lessons: don't gamble away your tuition, always heed the warning of a hobo, and the age-old classic: careful what you wish for. The script also touches on sexual harassment in the work place and takes a few pointed, amusing jabs at the health-care industry. Warwick Davis seems to savor every silly sequence, as he dons several new hats throughout the run-time: Elvis impersonator, financial advisor, fortune teller, televangelist, the world's ugliest nurse. It's no surprise to read that he once cited Leprechaun 3 as his favorite of the series. Easily the most entertaining entry thus far.

Best Kill: Boobs, Butt, Botox = Boom!

Leprechaun 4: In Space
(Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1997)

Joining the likes of Jason Voorhees, James Bond, the Brave Little Toaster and other franchises that inexplicably went to space, Leprechaun 4 finds the diminutive horror icon attempting to wed, bed and bury an alien princess to become king of her planet, only to have his plan thwarted by a platoon of cock-blocking space marines. (No mention of the "sneeze once, sneeze twice, she'll become my bride if she sneezes thrice" bullsh*t from the second film, as either this iteration of the leprechaun prefers relationships that are more consensual, or continuity is an abstract concept.) The franchise's silliness has reached new heights, with cartoonish deaths, cross-dressing cyborgs and a scientist who is half human, half ice-cream cart. I learned that it's a death sentence when an alien princess flashes her glittery breasts. And I'll never piss on the dismembered parts of a leprechaun after witnessing its magical spirit swim up urine like a parasite and re-spawn in a man's erection. The tone of Leprechaun 4 is self-aware, but the sudden emphasis on Aliens-style action fits the movie about as well as a Magnum XL on the dick of a gnat. Sets are noticeably cheap. Special-effects are a mixed bag: 90's CGI is PS1 quality, but there's some effectively goopy practical effects, most notably in the creation of a half-scorpion, half-tarantula, half-android monstrosity that makes Brundlefly look like Brad Pitt. Leprechaun 4 boasts a higher body count than every previous installment combined, but apparently the FX department didn't have any buy-one-get-one-free coupons to splurge on gore. The movie literally ends with a giant middle finger to its audience. I'm sure that act is reciprocated among many viewers for having 90-minutes of their lives wasted on such idiocy.

Best Kill: Pan Face

Leprechaun in the Hood
(Rob Spera, 2000)

Given the Lep's affinity for rhymes, it was only a matter of time until he found himself embroiled in the rap game. His venture into the hood starts promisingly with a one-on-one battle against Ice-T, who sports disco-era bell-bottoms, platform shoes and a Foxy Brown-style afro, from which Ice-T first retrieves a switchblade, then a full-on baseball bat in the film's biggest laugh. Unfortunately, the movie peaks with that opening scene. Instead of Leprechaun: Blaxploitation Edition, the hypothetical version I'd hoped to watch, we get what feels like the nineteenth sequel to Friday, a lazy comedy about three aspiring rappers and their misadventures with a magical flute. As some rapper probably once said, "Dis sh*t whack!" The leprechaun's skin is a noticeably darker hue than in previous installments. He's also surprisingly horny, as he keeps a brothel of "zombie hoes" and slips beneath the sheets with a trans woman. (I'm still unsure if the woman's come-on about the leprechaun being "just the right size" is meant to imply that she's into little people or little children.) Leprechaun in the Hood abounds in stereotypes associated with its setting. This means our Satanic imp develops a taste for the Devil's lettuce. ("A friend with weed is a friend indeed!") In a rare moment of cleverness for this horrible script, four-leaf clovers (the leprechaun's original weakness, which hasn't been referenced again in any of the sequels) is rolled into a blunt. Warwick Davis, sporting bling and quoting Martin Luther King, seems comfortable prowling this new urban environment, but either his screen time is the shortest yet or I felt his absences more than any previous entry. Ice-T, who carries himself like a seasoned thespian compared to the rest of the cast, also takes a backseat to our insufferable trio of protagonists. Pacing is non-existent. Attempts at humor are mostly cringeworthy and insulting. Cross-dressing has suddenly turned into a recurring theme. The kills mostly consist of people being choked or shot instead of magically disposed. Hopefully the Lep's trip Back 2 tha Hood is a step up from this piece of sh*t, as this is the first entry in the franchise that I havenít enjoyed to at least some extent.

Best Kill: Afro Pick to the Neck

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood
(Steven Ayromlooi, 2003)

You could chop Warwick Davis off at the knees and he still wouldn't be short enough to limbo underneath the standards of quality set by this series; so when I say that Back 2 tha Hood might be the best Leprechaun, I only mean that it's surprisingly competent. The story --- a group of friends incur the leprechaun's wrath after taking his precious gold -- is the template of every Leprechaun movie, but the lack of ludicrous embellishments and side-plots makes this version feel shockingly simple compared to previous entries. The urban setting feels more authentic than our last stay in the hood, and is mostly absent of racist undertones. Characters are thinly written, the performances adequate at best, but the chemistry between the core group feels genuine, and their lack of obnoxiousness is a welcome respite. Warwick Davis has expressed interest in reprising the role once his children reach adulthood, but if this remains his swan song as the iconic villain, he leaves a strong last impression, demonstrating comedic chops and intimidating malice like a small, green Freddy Krueger. In fact, the tonal balance between humor and horror is the smoothest in the series. The characters are picked off one-by-one, slasher-style, but I liked that each character gets an opportunity to fight back. Most of the kills are hilariously over-the-top, such as a cop having his leg easily ripped off before futilely hopping on his remaining leg until he bleeds out and falls over. Obligatory height jokes are hit and miss, but there's several amusing visual gags and WTF tangents. And once again our leprechaun gets high and suffers from the munchies. ("This isn't gonna stunt your growth, is it?") Like every movie in the franchise, Back 2 tha Hood indulges in silliness (e.g., a magic duel between the leprechaun and a witch), but it doesn't feel as childish as earlier entries. Part of that may be the noticeable absence of rhymes, which for me has always been the character's most annoying trait. Warwick Davis's wardrobe has undergone subtle changes, giving him a classier, aristocratic appearance that suits the random prologue explaining his origins. The fresh duds plus the excision of limericks result in a more sinister, bad-ass portrayal of the miniature menace than any previous Leprechaun can boast. Back 2 tha Hood doesn't quite match the entertainment factor of the Lep's visit to Vegas, but it's a surprisingly decent comedy-horror, especially in comparison to the dreck that preceded it.

Best Kill: Bong Impalement

Leprechaun: Origins
(Zach Lipovsky, 2014)

Leprechaun: Origins is so terrible that I feel the urge to retroactively boost my rating for every previous movie in the franchise. There's nothing wrong with rebooting the series with a darker, more traditional approach, but the filmmakers have completely sapped their product of personality by shunning the so-bad-it's-good campiness of the earlier films in favor of one of the most unoriginal creature-features I've ever seen. Replacing Warwick Davis is Vince McMahon's illegitimate son, WWE Superstar Hornswoggle, who receives top billing despite being indistinguishable underneath a mountain of latex and rubber. This rebooted version of the leprechaun is mute and often out of focus, so for all we know the former Cruiserweight Champion spent the entire movie hiding underneath a wrestling ring while someone else of diminutive stature ran around fake Ireland pretending to be a cave-dweller from The Descent. Besides a lust for gold, this monster shares zero similarities with the Warwick Davis iterations, nor does it resemble an actual f**king leprechaun. Generic Creature: Blatant Cash Grab of an Established Franchise would've been a more apt title. The other Leprechaun movies might've been poorly made, but at least they possessed a modicum of charm and creativity. Origins is built entirely of tropes and clichťs. There's not a single moment in this film that doesn't feel recycled from a thousand slashers and creature-features to come before it, making every story beat boringly predictable, every character wearisomely familiar. The closest we get to an "origin" is a lazily placed mythology book that the characters read for a quick exposition dump. Cinematography is ugly and washed out. Camera work is shoddy and frenetic, as it attempts to hide the production's cheapness. A major character randomly disappears without explanation. Acting is adequate, which is probably the closest thing to praise I can give this abomination. If not for the explicit gore, I would've mistaken this for a SyFy made-for-TV production. (Fittingly, that's the exact route that the series would subsequently take.) Leprechaun: Origins is an insult to audiences, an insult to horror, an insult to leprechauns. It is the personification of lazy, unoriginal filmmaking.

Best Kill: Spinal Rip

Series Ranked:

#1) Leprechaun 3
#2) Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood
#3) Leprechaun
#4) Leprechaun 2
#5) Leprechaun 4: In Space
#6) Leprechaun in the Hood
#7) Leprechaun: Origins


I've already read and repped these as individual posts, but seeing as this ressurects this thread,I'll happily break my own guidelines and rep this too. Always good to read your stuff, Captain.
5-time MoFo Award winner.

I've already read and repped these as individual posts, but seeing as this ressurects this thread,I'll happily break my own guidelines and rep this too. Always good to read your stuff, Captain.
Thanks, HK. I've been trying to get back into the habit of writing about films. I'm hoping to update this thread on a semi-regular basis.

What's your opinion of the Leprechaun movies? I'm sure you've seen a couple of them at some point. As bad as they are, I think Warwick Davis is awesome enough in them to warrant more recognition when it comes to iconic horror movie villains.

Based on your description of it, Jennifer Anistonís role in the first movie seems to be the reason she was chosen to play Rachel.

Honestly, I've only seen the first and only watched it because the newly famous Jennifer Anniston was in it. I remember liking it for the tosh it was, but I can't really remember enough detail to give you any thoughts on it. I do remember thinking I'd like to see the In The Hood one when I heard about it (as I like Blaxploitation films) but never got around to it. Sounds like I dodged a bullet there from your viewing.

Lust in the Dust
(Paul Bartel, 1985)

The mere presence of cult icon Divine is enough to misconceive viewers into thinking that this western spoof is the work of John Waters -- a misconception likely bolstered by the appearance of Polyester co-star Tab Hunter. It's fascinating to think what could have been had Waters not declined the opportunity to direct Lust in the Dust. Instead of the button-pushing anarchic energy of John Waters, we get Roger Corman disciple Paul Bartel, who might be odd and kinky, but lacks the provocative ambition to mine this material for anything more than surface-level chuckles. Remove the novelty of watching a gay camp western starring an obese drag queen and you realize that Lust in the Dust is a broad western parody not all that dissimilar to the comedies of Happy Madison Productions. Jokes are sophomoric. Punchlines are telegraphed. There's too much plot, not enough absurdity.

Despite my disappointment that Lust in the Dust isn't weirder or gayer or more transgressive, the bizarre sight of Divine in a spaghetti-inspired western knock-off is a novelty that never fades. It's like watching A Fistful of Dollars inseminate Female Trouble with Blazing Saddles stepping in as a surrogate mother. Tab Hunter's Able Wood is a riff on Eastwood's Man with No Name, but Hunter lacks the gravitas to play a mysterious gunslinger. He's the weak link of the cast, underplaying his performance to the point of near catatonia. When sharing the screen with Divine and Lainie Kazan, Hunter is like a pitiful sapling caught between the dueling winds of two hurricanes in drag. The catty interplay between Divine and Kazan, as they compete for the attention of the same man in addition to their ongoing pursuit of a mythological treasure, is the lifeblood of Lust in the Dust. Their enormous energy propels the film, providing enough entertainment to compensate for the weak script. Reliable character actors like Geoffrey Lewis, Henry Silva, Cesar Romero and Woody Strode bring authenticity to the picture, momentarily tricking viewers into thinking that they're watching a real western until Divine inevitably cracks another neck between her thunderous thighs during an act of cunnilingus and you realize that this isn't exactly your grandpa's John Wayne matinee.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre
(David Blue Garcia, 2022)

Half a century later, the ninth film in the franchise finally delivers on the god damned promise of a Texas chainsaw massacre. "Try anything and you're canceled, bro!" At first I was rolling my eyes at the film's lip service to every trending topic (school shootings, gentrification, second amendment rights, systemic racism, confederate flags, woke culture, etc.) with the script stuffing social-media buzzwords into every character's mouth. It reeked of #pretentiousness, like the producers were above making a simple horror film and chose to use this long-running franchise as a soapbox, similarly to the dreadful 2019 remake of Black Christmas. Fears unfounded. Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn't populated with SJW types because it shares their self-righteousness. It's populated with SJW types because it wants to watch them dance on the end of a chainsaw.

I forgot that Marilyn Burns died a few years ago, so my dumbass was way too enamored with Sally Hardesty's Laurie Strode-inspired revenge subplot, to the point that I even lamented that she wasn't the main character. Once I realized that it wasn't Burns reprising the role, I felt foolish, and those scenes retroactively lost their luster. Kudos to Olwen Fouťrť. She's a genuine bad-ass despite pushing 70, and she's also believable as an age-progressed Sally Hardesty. This means that Leatherface is eligible for the senior-citizen discount as well, but that doesn't prevent him from moving with the strength and speed of an NFL linebacker. Ground-up human chili must be the elixir of youth considering that Grandpa was still hammering skulls in the first two films despite clocking in at north of a century. This direct sequel (or "legacyquel") might not be a particularly good movie, but it's a good TCM movie: 81-minutes (counting credits), high body count, graphic violence, gallons of blood, sunbaked Texas atmosphere. The ending comes off like a lame parody of the original, but in retrospect I think it's intentional irony, and it fits the film's sneering, misanthropic attitude. We're just bickering, self-absorbed, judgmental slabs of meat destined for the butcher shop.

Yeah, I surprisingly didn't mind this. For all its cringeworthy elements, it's refreshingly reliable about delivering gore at a steady pace. And you can't argue with that runtime.

Much better than the last one, which might be the worst movie I've ever paid to see in a theatre.

#9) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

#8) Leatherface (2017)

#7) Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)

#6) Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

#5) Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1995)

#4) Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

#3) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

#2) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

#1) The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Great review. Fun read. Actually makes me want to see it even if I think Iíll probably regret it after.
How you feel about the series in general?

1 and 2 are safely the best entries, even if the latter took me several rewatches to warm up to. After that, it's a bunch of movies I didn't mind (2022, 1990, 2013), a few I hated (2003, 2017) and a few I haven't seen (the rest).

I suspect 2003 might improve on a rewatch, but when I saw it years ago, I found it boring and unpleasant to look at. And I realize 2013 is probably terrible, but I thought it was reasonably well shot, and I'm also not immune to the charms of Alexandra Daddario's deep blue eyes. It's a lousy reason to like an arguably lousy movie, but it is what it is.

How you feel about the series in general?
Not seen many of them.

I think the original is great. The 2003 remake and The Beginning arenít that great but have some high points I guess. Thatís all Iíve seen.

Itís justÖ I have no interest in the 100th reboot of this series. Or any series for that matter. It seems like just another lazy cash grab. But thatís just my gut feeling of course.

The first is one of the greatest films ever made. Leave a space on the shelf next to the works of Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Eisenstein and keep those movies safe.

The second isn't great, but it's a fun way to look at what the original did from a different angle and tease out all the humor that seems to be so unseen by many of the films fans.

The one with Renee Zelwegger is awful.

The one with Jessica Biel is professionally made, but who ****ing cares about that. That's just a ruse to get some people to lend it respectability it doesn't deserve.

And the most recent one had moments here and there that sort of worked. Momentary splashes of inspiration. But overall, I think it was pretty irrelevant and just turned into garbage by the last half hour.

I've only seen the first one so far; not a great movie for me, due to my often-mentioned issue with its second half, but Hooper did direct the heck out of it, and I do like it more than Ebert did, at least.

I realize 2013 is probably terrible, but I thought it was reasonably well shot, and I'm also not immune to the charms of Alexandra Daddario's deep blue eyes.
Gonna be honest, I thought you were about to refer to a different pair of charms.

I suspect 2003 might improve on a rewatch, but when I saw it years ago, I found it boring and unpleasant to look at.
The 2003 remake was my introduction to the franchise. Watched it opening night in theaters with a group of high school buddies, so that likely gives it a boost for me. Although I revisited it a few years ago and still enjoyed it. It possesses that mean streak synonymous with the torture porn of the era, a phase of horror much maligned but that I personally enjoyed. Also Jessica Biel's . . . um . . . "deep blue eyes."

I should revisit the 2006 version sometime because that's the one I remember the least.

The first is one of the greatest films ever made. Leave a space on the shelf next to the works of Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Eisenstein and keep those movies safe.
Better yet, kick those other motherf**kers off the shelf.

The one with Renee Zelwegger is awful.
Agreed, and most people would probably rank it dead last, but I find it entertainingly awful. Illuminati subplots, Leatherface in drag, McConaughey chewing all the scenery with his remote-controlled leg brace. My memories of most of the sequels are foggy, but for as long as I live, I'll never forget large swathes of The Next Generation, and memorability (for good reasons or bad) carries a lot of weight with me.

I mean, just feast upon this brilliance:

Career highlight performance. His work in Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective can't hold a candle.

Also Jessica Biel's . . . um . . . "deep blue eyes."
Jessica Biel has hazel eyes, Captain.