I was visiting some college friends Saturday night at their place when we decided to watch a movie, and somehow, we landed on 1993's Leprechaun. Don't ask me how; you just don't know my friends. I'll be blunt, Leprechaun is a terrible movie. It's not frightening, suspenseful, or even particularly well made, but under the correct circumstances, (I'll merely say my evening with friends may have included some jello shots and Pabst Blue Ribbon, in a safe, controlled environment), it becomes hysterical. When people describe a movie as so bad, it's good, this is one such title.
This particular leprechaun is not a mischievous but ultimately good-willed prankster or a cuddly, kind-hearted fairy. Rather, he's an evil, ugly, loathsome, greedy creature who will murder anyone who steals his gold or crosses his path. His gold is stolen from him by an old Irish man and taken to North Dakota, where he follows the man and kills his wife. But the old man seals him in a box with the aid of a four-leaf clover. Ten years later, after a man and his daughter (Jennifer Anniston, pre-Friends and pre-nose job), move in, but the leprechaun breaks free and begins his reign of unintentional hilarity.
Warwick Davis plays the title character, and you might recognize him as the main character from Willow. He was also Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi and Professor Flitwick in Harry Potter. While's not scary in the slightest, he does seem to be having fun and definitely pulls off being nasty. The problem is the premise; how can anyone older than 10 be terrified of this little guy in green striped socks, buckled shoes, and hat? We see him too often for any sense of mystery or suspense to be built, especially when everyone towers over him. Worse, the director grants him no dignity; we see the leprechaun on a tricycle, Barbie-pedaled car, and even a pogo stick.
I can see how in more capable hands this creature could have been scary, but the nature of what he's capable of is inconsistent. He can seemingly teleport through space and objects but gets blocked by a door. Shotgun blasts merely stun him, and he can rip car doors off the hinges, but a little kid can wrestle him. It seems the filmmakers tried to make him a slasher and demonic figure, but they cancel each other out. He's too unimposing for stalking and too inconsistant for magic. Concentrating on the dark magic aspect and keeping him in the shadows might have gone a long way.
The script isn't better. The characters are morons, the plot doesn't make sense, and it's littered with holes. Still, I can't deny I had a fun time watching this with friends. It's so bad, it's easy to make fun of, and dare I say, it's almost admirable for the movie to try so hard to be scary. The nature and image of the leprechaun separates this from another run-of-the-mill slasher movie. It's certainly not boring and never drags.
I can't recommend this on any objective level, but if you're looking for your own Mystery Science Theatre 3000 experience, this would be a good fit. Just don't watch it alone; you'll have no one to appreciate the badness with. And this is before the leprechaun went into outer space and ended up in the 'hood.