In Honor of St. Patrick's Day, We Rank the 'Leprechaun' Movies

In Honor of St. Patrick's Day, We Rank the 'Leprechaun' Movies

Mar 17, 2014

Note: The piece from Scott Neumyer originally ran two years ago, but we love it so much it's become a tradition to repost it every St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy!

I’m going to tell you something that you might find hard to believe: I just watched all six Leprechaun films back to back, in one marathon viewing session, so you don’t have to. Ah… the things I do for you loyal Movies.com readers. You’re so lucky. Not only did I watch the Leprechaun films, but I also kept running totals and analyzed each film to determine how they stack up against each other. (* Thanks to fine folks at Exclusiv Vodka for providing enough alcohol to get us through this project. By the time we got through Leprechaun 4: In Space it was all gone. Man, that’s a tough one to watch).

So put on your favorite green shirt, eat some green bagels, sit back, relax and enjoy the most detailed ranking of the Leprechaun films you’re ever likely to see. Oh, and yeah, we totally don’t condone you using this breakdown as a Leprechaun drinking game. Then again, it is St. Patrick’s Day, right? Cheers!

 

Leprechaun (1993)

Movie Ranking: 1 out of 6

Number of Kills: 3

Number of Times the Leprechaun Rhymes: 2

Number of Times the Leprechaun Mentions His Gold: 24

Number of Times Others Mention the Leprechaun’s Gold: 14

Number of Times People Are Shown Drinking: 1

Highlight Moment: Murder by Pogo Stick.

More Comedy or More Horror: Push. Leprechaun is the perfect mixture of both comedy and horror.

 

Who would have thought that this little 1993 horror film written and directed by Mark Jones would go on to spawn a six (and counting?) film franchise? Starring the legendary Warwick Davis (Labyrinth, Willow, the Harry Potter series) as the titular evil leprechaun, the film carefully balances the funny with the horrific and comes out a winner in just about every way. Leprechaun has become a cult classic, and not just because it was Jennifer Aniston’s first feature film role. No, no. Leprechaun has this innocent, fun quality that makes it extremely entertaining. There are classic kills, ridiculous special effects, and lots of Warwick Davis screaming about wanting his gold. Easily the best film of the entire series, Leprechaun will most likely forever live on as the greatest St. Patrick’s Day horror film of all time.

 

Leprechaun 2 (1994)

Movie Ranking: 3 out of 6

Number of Kills: 4

Number of Times the Leprechaun Rhymes: 7

Number of Times the Leprechaun Mentions His Bride: 9

Number of Times the Leprechaun Mentions His Gold: 19

Number of Times Others Mention the Leprechaun’s Gold: 9

Number of Times People Are Shown Drinking: 11

Highlight Moment: Leprechaun vs. human drinking contest

More Comedy or More Horror: Comedy. This one needed significantly more Leprechaun being murderous if it was meant to be scary.

 

Warwick Davis returned as the Leprechaun a year later in Rodman Flender’s Leprechaun 2. The film appears to take place a few years after the events in Leprechaun and our little gold-loving Irishman is prowling the streets of Los Angeles for a bride. Unfortunately, his search for a mate is much less interesting than his quest to get his gold back in the first film. Despite the added incentive of watching an adorable Shevonne Durkin run around trying to escape the Leprechaun’s evil clutches, Leprechaun 2 just doesn’t have the same fun blend of horror comedy that kept the first flick moving. Instead, we’re left with long stretches without any murderous leprechaun action. While the number of kills may be up in Leprechaun 2, that’s really only a result of there being more people running around the city than on a farmhouse in North Dakota. A few solid moments make this flick one worth watching though, and it sits decidedly in the middle of the series in terms of quality.

 

Leprechaun 3 (1995)

Movie Ranking: 2 out of 6

Number of Kills: 7

Number of Times the Leprechaun Rhymes: 17

Number of Times the Leprechaun Mentions His Gold: 24

Number of Times Others Mention the Leprechaun’s Gold: 13

Number of Times the Leprechaun’s Medallion Is Mentioned: 3

Number of Times People Are Shown Drinking: 0

Highlight Moment: Death by leprechaun-performed plastic surgery.

More Comedy or More Horror: Horror, though there are some great comedic moments.

 

Another year, another Leprechaun movie, and now we’re talking! Leprechaun 3 breathes some new life into the series after a lackluster second outing. The film finds the Leprechaun running around Las Vegas trying to track down one of his wish-granting gold coins. Chronology-wise, the film appears to take place after the events in Leprechaun In the Hood and Leprechaun Back 2 Tha’ Hood but before the original Leprechaun film. Got that? Yeah, us neither. We’re admittedly pretty buzzed by now. Regardless, gone is the search for a bride and back is the murderous evil Leprechaun we know and love. Leprechaun 3 goes a little lighter on the humor in favor of a harder horror bend and the film is all the better for it. After the original, this entry is easily the most entertaining of the series.

 

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)

Movie Ranking: 6 out of 6

Number of Kills: 7

Number of Times the Leprechaun Rhymes: 2

Number of Times the Leprechaun Mentions His Gold: 4

Number of Times Others Mention the Leprechaun’s Gold: 0

Number of Times the Leprechaun Mentions Being King: 6

Number of Times People Are Shown Drinking: 1

Highlight Moment: When the end credits finally start rolling.

More Comedy or More Horror: Comedy. Sadly, the only thing that’s actually funny is how laughably awful this movie is.

 

It took director Brian Trenchard-Smith two years to follow up his efforts in Leprechaun 3 and, honestly, he should have just given up while he was ahead. Leprechaun 4: In Space is an absolute abomination. Let’s put it this way: Imagine the worst film you’ve ever seen. Now multiply that by about 50 and you might get close to how bad this film is. It’s just bad in every conceivable way. Totally ridiculous and confusing plot. Uninteresting characters. And way less Leprechaun than should be allowed in a damn Leprechaun film. Not to mention it looks like someone shot this thing on their Handycam one weekend. Leprechaun 4: In Space ditches the horror element and just tries to be funny, but even there it fails miserably. Bad. Bad. Bad. If I haven’t convinced you by now, see it for yourself, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’d be happy to simply forget this flick ever existed.

 

Leprechaun in The Hood (2000)

Movie Ranking: 5 out of 6

Number of Kills: 9

Number of Times the Leprechaun Rhymes: 20

Number of Times the Leprechaun Raps: 1

Number of Times the Leprechaun Mentions His Gold: 8

Number of Times Others Mention the Leprechaun’s Gold: 3

Number of Times Someone Mentions the Leprechaun’s Gold Flute: 29

Number of Times the Leprechaun’s Medallion Is Mentioned: 4

Number of Times the Leprechaun Smokes Weed: 3

Number of Times People Are Shown Drinking: 0

Highlight Moment: Leprechaun rap.

More Comedy or More Horror: Comedy, but there are some good horror elements in there.

 

Thank you, Rob Spera, for making me forget about that last Leprechaun film. Leprechaun in the Hood brings back a bit of the magic that Leprechaun 4: In Space lost. It’s still near the lower end of the series quality-wise, but it’s a breath of fresh air after its predecessor. If you’re still counting, Leprechaun In the Hood is actually, chronologically, the first film in the series and it places Warwick Davis’ leprechaun right in the middle of Compton, California. The film starts off strong with a pretty hilarious fight scene between Ice-T’s Mack Daddy O’Nassas and the leprechaun (Mack Daddy pulls pretty much everything but the kitchen sink out of his enormous afro), and it’s clear that the series has now gone the way of parody. Most of the truly horrific elements have been excised to make way for comedy and those that do remain are often peppered with just enough jokes to take out any real horror bite. But, at this point, we’re cool with it. The film works better than we expected and, although we would have rather seen a bit more of the evil leprechaun and less of the gangsters trying to kill each other over a golden flute, Leprechaun in the Hood is still a vast improvement over the fourth film.

 

Leprechaun Back 2 tha Hood (2003)

Movie Ranking: 4 out of 6

Number of Kills: 9

Number of Times the Leprechaun Rhymes: 0

Number of Times the Leprechaun Raps: 0

Number of Times the Leprechaun Mentions His Gold: 15

Number of Times Other’s Mention the Leprechaun’s Gold: 12

Number of Times the Leprechaun Smokes Weed: 2

Number of Times People Are Shown Drinking: 0

Highlight Moment: Heart removal courtesy of the leprechaun.

More Comedy or More Horror: Comedy. The film is clearly playing for laughs, but some of the best moments are the horrific ones.

 

Which brings us to the series finale (for now, right?). Leprechaun Back 2 tha Hood makes Leprechaun in the Hood seem like the test run for where the series really wanted to go. Now we have a more fully fleshed out storyline, better characterization and performances (especially from Page Kennedy who you may remember as U-Turn on “Weeds”), improved kills, and funnier jokes. The series has finally come full circle and we’re worrying less about brides and space aliens and a golden flute and, instead, focusing on what every leprechaun should be focusing on: getting his gold back. Sure, the leprechaun in Leprechaun Back 2 tha Hood might enjoy a little weed, but he also knows how to dispatch of his foes in interesting and gory ways. It’s the best film since the original three and a nice way to wrap up the series. At least until we get the next installment, right?

The original Leprechaun is now available on digital download, VOD and pay-per-view just in time for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The third and sixth installments in the series are also available in HD for the very first time.

 

What’s your favorite Leprechaun movie moment? Let us know in the comments or feel free to chat with me about it on Twitter.

 

 

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