Warwick Davis’s Leprechaun ranks as one of the most enduring cult horror icons, but of the many movies which are the best?
It’s the week of St. Patrick’s Day, and just because the holiday was yesterday that doesn’t mean the celebration has to end. So we here at Arrow in the Head decided to mark the occasion by going back over the Leprechaun movies and ranking them from worst to first. The Leprechaun Movies Ranked list can be seen below – check it out and let us know how you would rank the movies!
LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS (2014)
This is appalling. Director Zach Lipovsky, writer Harris Wilkinson, and WWE Studios were given the chance to make a new Leprechaun movie, they cast a professional wrestler (Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl) as the title character, and then they just churned out a dull monster movie. I don’t know how anyone involved thought this was a good idea (“You know what we should do? Take everything people liked about Leprechaun and remove it!”) or how Leprechaun: Origins made it through production. The story follows Americans backpacking through Ireland and running across a leprechaun, who is just a hideous creature with no personality. It’s not even fun to watch this thing pick people off. There’s nothing interesting to be found in this movie, although there is some curiosity factor in seeing one of the most wrongheaded reboots ever made. Unfortunately, you have to sacrifice some of your time to do so. (Good thing the 90 minute running time is padded out with 12 minutes of end credits.)
LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD (2000)
Around 2000, there was a surge of low-budget horror movies set “in the hood”. Full Moon was in on it, and the Leprechaun franchise joined the trend as well. Directed by Rob Spera, who got help from four other writers in crafting the story and script, Leprechaun in the Hood has its charms. You get Ice-T as a record producer who gained success with the help of a flute he stole from the leprechaun. You get the leprechaun smoking weed, rapping, and mesmerizing a trio of “fly girls”. And of course, you get him killing people while trying to get his flute back from the rap group that has stolen it from Ice-T’s character. (Called Mack Daddy O’Nassas because he was a pimp who “owned asses”.) This one ranks lower just because it doesn’t feel as fun as some of the other entries, despite the weed and the rapping.
LEPRECHAUN BACK 2 THA HOOD (2003)
Writer/director Steven Ayromlooi wanted to make a Spring Break Leprechaun movie, but Lionsgate wanted to send the character Back 2 Tha Hood. Well, at least this repetition is more tolerable than going Back 2 Space would be. This sequel has better production value than the previous Hood entry, some cool action moments, and fun elements like bullets laced with clover and a magic battle between the leprechaun and a fortune teller. On the downside, the characters aren’t very interesting, so it bogs down whenever we have to watch them interaction. We get the leprechaun hitting a bong, but he doesn’t give us another rap sequence… which I’m sure was disappointing to fans of the first Hood film. This may be the last time we’ll ever see Warwick Davis starring in a Leprechaun movie, which is a shame. He seemed to have a lot more Lep left in him, but they let the franchise go dormant for too long.
LEPRECHAUN 4 (1996)
Leprechaun 3 director Brian Trenchard-Smith returned to direct Leprechaun 4, which is not on the level of his previous contribution to the series. The fact that it’s set in space isn’t the problem, it’s fitting that the Leprechaun movies helped start one of the most amusing franchise trends. The problem is, it feels like Dennis Pratt just wrote it as a generic Aliens knock-off and then replaced the alien with the leprechaun. He lives on a random planet and is referred to as an alien. At least he’s still obsessed with wealth and power. This movie does get incredibly strange as the leprechaun wipes out a bunch of soldiers and the medical staff on a spaceship, so it has that going for it. This seems to be a love it or hate it entry: it gets too ridiculous for some viewers, while others enjoy that it’s packed with jaw-dropping nonsense.
LEPRECHAUN RETURNS (2018)
The leprechaun is a different character in every Leprechaun movie, they all just happened to be played by Warwick Davis. Until Leprechaun Returns, which brings back the leprechaun from the original. Ironically, the first direct sequel is also the first sequel Davis opted not to come back for. So this returning leprechaun is played by Linden Porco, who does a good job, it’s just difficult for anyone to come close to what Davis did. Directed by Steven Kostanski, Leprechaun Returns is an entertaining sequel with an amusing, clever script by Suzanne Keilly – who recently wrote a fun Slumber Party Massacre movie as well. The story finds the leprechaun accidentally being unleashed by a group of sorority girls and proceeding to kill them and their friends one-by-one. Nice and simple. Mark Holton reprises the role of Ozzie from the original film, and the heroine is the daughter of Jennifer Aniston’s character.
Some horror franchises start out dead serious and slide into silliness. That’s not the case with Leprechaun. Future entries would definitely be sillier, but this concept was ridiculous from the start. Written and directed by Mark Jones, Leprechaun is about a single father and his daughter moving into a fixer-upper home in North Dakota… and quickly realizing there was a leprechaun trapped in the basement and a pot of gold the previous owner brought back from Ireland (after stealing it from the leprechaun) stashed nearby. The leprechaun wants his gold back, and is willing to kill people in nasty ways to retrieve it. Jones tries to make moments genuinely unnerving, but while Warwick Davis turns in a hell of a performance and the leprechaun is hideous, he’s still wearing a funny outfit, tossing out one-liners, and getting distracted because he’s compelled to polish shoes. He’s also up against some goofball characters, including a rather annoying heroine played by pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston.
LEPRECHAUN 3 (1995)
The idea behind Leprechaun 3, which was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith from a script by David DuBos, was a really smart one. You have a horror villain who’s obsessed with collecting riches, so what better setting could there be for one of his sequels than Las Vegas? Of course, the movie only had to budget to film in Vegas for one day (the interiors were shot in Los Angeles), but Trenchard-Smith made the most of it. While the leprechaun causes trouble for people who work at a casino, including a terrible magician and a croupier played by genre regular Caroline Williams, we also learn that leprechaunism is an infectious disease when the lead (played by future screenwriter John Gatins) starts to turn into a leprechaun himself. This was one of the better, most well-crafted entries in the franchise. And you get to see what a handful of leprechaun poop looks like.
LEPRECHAUN 2 (1994)
Every one thousand years, a leprechaun can claim a human bride, and in Leprechaun 2 an evil leprechaun has his mind set on a young woman named Bridget (Shevonne Durkin). With the help of his drunken uncle Morty (Sandy Baron), Bridget’s boyfriend Cody (Charlie Heath) desperately tries to save his love from life with a leprechaun. Directed by Rodman Flender and written by Turi Meyer and Al Septién, this sequel is a step up from its predecessor. It’s quick and fun, with a good sense of humor and very entertaining performance from Baron. It also brings a welcome new addition to the Leprechaun mythology, saying a captured leprechaun has to grant its captor three wishes. Of course, those wishes don’t always work out for the person making them. Warwick Davis was given better material to work with, including a great sequence in which he and Morty have a drinking contest. This one also earns points for being set on St. Patrick’s Day.