Sci-Fi Saturday: Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)

R, 95 minutes, Comedy

Starring: Warwick DavisBrent JasmerJessica CollinsGuy SinerBoobs

…Seriously?

I’m sure anyone who was aware of this movie said that to themselves whether it be twenty years ago or twenty seconds ago. It’s come to this: the point where it’s obvious that the creative crew just said, “Eff it,” and made something intentionally ludicrous. I mean… It’s a leprechaun… In SPACE.

Seriously?

Leprechaun 4 takes place at some point in the future. After the villainous little bugger (Davis yet again) kidnaps an alien princess, a crew of space marines move in to take him out. Getting overly cocky, one of the marines urinates on the remains of the leprechaun and somehow connects with the dead beast. When they return to their ship… the leprechaun… well… he births out of the guy’s… junk… No chestburster here, Mr. Scott!

With the menace loose on the ship, the marines fight to stay alive. Unfortunately the recovered princess has other plans and yet still the doctor on board the ship has his own nefarious plot. Somehow the marines must stay alive before the forces of evil overtake the galaxy. Oh noes!

You may have noticed that I didn’t acknowledge the actors very much. I would hope that looking back on this would make them cry out in exasperation. This isn’t a good movie, yet it attracted a slew of television actors ranging from Baywatch to Home Improvement. I don’t know if this entry earned a Razzie, but it would have been justified.

I love science fiction, but I felt like it was simply the backdrop to the story. It certainly was a gimmick. They had the spaceship, medical and industrial technology, and the ever-lovin’ energy shield, but it felt like none of it mattered until the very end. I guess I might have expected too much from the beginning, but I mean “space” is in the blasted title.

Finally, I have to talk about the boobs. I like boobs just like the next guy, but I absolutely had to question their use this time around. The previous two installments in this series used boobs to lure male characters to their deaths, but in L4 they’re just gratuitous. They add nothing to the story. Not a thing. It’s as though the casting director sat there during auditions and said, “Well, we could use you… and you’re obviously desperate for a role… but I won’t agree to use you unless boobs because reasons. Hurdur.” I guess all those Baywatch babes really did take it off at one point or another.

If you’ve decided to watch along, then bully for you, ol’ chap. Making it this far took work on my end, so I can only imagine your face after sitting through hours of it. This just isn’t a good… thing. As the series went on, the obviousness of how ridiculous these movies are came to the forefront of the story–it became apart of the story. If any profit was made from all of this, it had to have been solely through cheap rental copies. No wonder Blockbuster busted. Sadly, I have yet to get my hands on copies of the final three films, but there was an apparent dynamic shift with the “Hood” titles. Now I like movies, good or bad, but this series isn’t for your average watcher. Just watch a Lucky Charms commercial and you’ll be set for March.

Rating: Don’t bother.

tl;dr
Watch: Boobs
Don’t watch: It’s a terrible movie, but boobs.

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Leprechaun 3 (1995)

R, 90 minutes, Comedy

Starring: Warwick DavisJohn GatinsLee ArmstrongJohn DeMita

It was by this point that I began to question my little quest to watch the Leprechaun series. I had gotten enough entertainment out of the original, plus I had its sequel in tow. But a third one? The DVD screen loaded and I was met with… the Leprechaun doing an Elvis impersonation. Mkay then.

So Leprechaun 3 is set in Las Vegas. Our shillelagh-toting fiend (still Davis!) finds himself in The City of Sin, a prisoner of magical pendant that has turned him to stone. When the “statue” is pawned off, the unfortunate owner of the secondhand store takes the amulet off and unleashes a world of pain.

Nearby, Scott (Gatins) has quite nearly run into Tammy (Armstrong). Being, well… male he picks up the gorgeous blonde and takes her to work: a sleazy casino. It’s here that Scott loses his entire tuition fund. Desperate, he agrees to pawn off his watch in hopes of winning back that which he has lost. Instead Scott winds up stumbling upon the murder scene of the store’s owner. When he finds a gold coin near the body he accidentally uses it to wish himself into a better situation. But the leprechaun wants nothing of the sort and the more the coin’s power get abused, the more the bodies start to pile up.

This time around the story really gets complicated. There’s an entire mythos established via a not-even-a-CD-ROM disk about Leprechauns. We’re given plenty of foreshadowing about the plot’s eventual conflict and resolution. Seriously, everything was unnecessarily spelled out. I can’t tell whether that slip was intentional or not and in hindsight it’s a little frustrating since there’s no real suprise.

Another thing that bothered me about the story was the pawn shop owner. The guy get his toe bitten off. Does he call an ambulance? The police? No, he bandages the stub and starts to play on his computer. I can’t tell if he’s retarded or hardcore. Of course he finally goes for the phone only after the leprechaun begins to repeatedly bash him with his club. I’m guessing the irony of having the storekeeper strangled to death with the phone cord as he’s trying to call for help was intentional, if only to add to this films awkwardness.

Two characters I did like were the two thugs pressing the casino owner for cash. They’re fairly useless characters, but their dialogue is pure golden hogwash. It’s just guys talking about unimportant stuff like their underwear chaffing them, but it’s amusing to the point where you can appreciate it more than the main storyline. Sad really.

In the technology realm we’re given more than in previous films. There’s the gambling floor, which is saturated with game tables and slot machines. It gave me the sense of the movie potentially being shot on a real casino, albeit with seriously good lighting. Then there’s the stripper robot. This seizuring hellspawn is probably the scariest visual the series has to offer. With a blank stare and freakish chest balloons, this sparking metallic beast would kill anyone’s buzz when it pins them down. I would have hated just being the actor during filming. Yick! Then of course there’s the exploding woman… You’ll just have to see that part for yourself.

I didn’t really care for this entry into the series, though I will give it kudos for giving the plot some complexity. It’s a mystery why anything other than the original film was made. My hope is that the creative team just enjoyed making these so much that they didn’t care what anyone had to say. That gusto takes courage I would have a hard time summoning up. So bravo, guys. Your artistic bravery has been recognized.

Rating: Don’t bother.

tl;dr
Watch: More complex plot than previous entries in the series.
Don’t watch: Awkward plot is awkward.

Leprechaun 2 (1994)

R, 85 minutes, Comedy

Starring: Warwick DavisCharlie HeathShevonne DurkinSandy Baron

Unsurprisingly enough, they made a sequel to Leprechaun. Six, in fact. That number scares me worse than these movies ever could. But having found a four-pack I’ll keep plugging away at the series like a good little lad. ‘Tis me birthday, after all!

Leprechaun 2 starts a thousand years ago as a leprechaun (Davis again) celebrates his thousandth birthday (fitting, no?) and choses himself a bride. If she sneezes three times without being blessed, then she is his forever. When her father intervenes at the last moment, the leprechaun curses his bloodline. In another thousand years he will take the father’s descendant as his bride.

Fast forward to modern Los Angeles, Cody (Heath) is working a crummy tour business. His girlfriend, Bridget (Durkin), is upset at Cody for having to break a date in order to work. The leprechaun moves in during this moment of romantic strife and kidnaps Bridget with the intent to marry her. Now Cody has to hunt down the creature while dodging both work and the cops before Bridget becomes the wife of a leprechaun.

I think it’s safe to say at this point the series has moved into the exploitation genre. While the first film probably also counts as one, the second rendition makes character deaths more creative, including one that has boobs right before the blood splatter. It almost tries to be scary… a little… Somehow this made it to theaters, so they still had to follow MPAA guidelines, but it almost feels like they filmed it without any real care.

To further drive home that this series is a big joke, they hired various comedic actors for bit parts. Kimmy Robertson, Tony Cox, and Michael McDonald (love this guy!) all make appearances. Clint Howard’s even here, headlining a slew of Star Trek alumni. The ensemble is nothing short of unexpected and that shock value is more significant than any of the kills this movie could provide.

Something else that stood out to me was the leprechaun’s age. In the original movie it’s stated that the leprechaun is six hundred years old. However, the beginning of the second movie starts with the one thousandth and later the two thousandth birthday of the leprechaun. Since both movies take place in the ’90s, both creatures are weak against different materials, and their pots of gold are different, it’s safe to say these are two different leprechauns. There’s no cop-out resurrection here and that’s kind of refreshing… for something old.

I can ramble on about all the weird things I noticed going on, but really it’s a movie you should explore for yourself… which is what I would be saying if I thought this would appeal to a broader audience. It won’t. Hardcore fans of the original would eat this up, but don’t expect to get excited over this film without a few pints of green lager in your system.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, boyo!

Rating: Don’t bother.

tl;dr
Watch: This movie is full of little surprises.
Don’t watch: More of the same with a little bit extra.

Leprechaun (1993)

R, 92 minutes, Comedy

Starring: Warwick DavisJennifer AnistonKen OlandtMark HoltonRobert Hy Gorman

From The List came a decent selection of movies. Sometimes though the selections are pretty freaking weird. Growing up I’d seen both of Wayne’s World movies. I suspect my parents hated these, so I probably watched them with a friend that lived across the street. Either way I do remember having a conversation with him about one scene in particular where Wayne scares Garth by proclaiming that he’s “the leprechaun.” I hadn’t heard of the movie Wayne was imitating, but it made me kind of sad knowing that a symbol of my birthday was considered a horror villain.

Yes, I was born on St. Patrick’s Day. I feel it only fitting that I explore the franchise in honor of that supposed serpent-banishing saint. No longer burdened by my childhood woe, I went all-out and watched the original series of movies… only to discover I missed some.

The first Leprechaun movie stars Willow–I mean, Wicket–I mean, WARWICK Davis as our titular villain. He finds himself imprisoned in the basement of a country home after attacking a man who stole his gold. Years pass and the now abandoned home is purchased by a man bringing his daughter out to open spaces of rural North Dakota. The daughter, Rachel–I mean, Tory (Aniston), having been a spoiled city girl, hates her new surroundings.

Things go from bad to worse when a handyman lets loose the evil leprechaun. Demanding his precious gold back, the leprechaun begins leaving a trail of blood across the small town. It’s all Tory can do to keep her sanity as she’s terrorized by the mischievous creature, but in order to survive the night she needs to find a way to rid herself of her bad luck for good.

This movie… surprised me, though I almost feel the term isn’t right. I did not expect Aniston. I did not expect low quality. I certainly did not expect the humor. I felt a bit let down by this movie, but at the same time I came to understand its charm. This whole thing was downright confusing.

Being from the early ’90s, this movie has the advantage of showcasing Jennifer Aniston in he pre-surgery glory. For some reason she came to resent her nose and it’s changed quite a lot over the years, but in Leprechaun it’s (I think) her natural pre-fame state. This woman is gorgeous, nose or not, and makes for quite a contrast next to the grotesque scoundrel who can pull out people’s eyeballs. How fitting is it that Aniston would become famous for her role as Friends character Rachel Green?

I found it laughable that they show our characters driving through the hills of North Dakota. My family is from there and anyone from North Dakota knows that the most change in elevation occurs at the Red River and the ditch someone forgot to fill in at Jamestown. It’s flat and green any month other than Winterary, yet we’re shown these rolling brown hills. To it’s credit, this movie was pre-internet era and back then too few people lived in ND to refute it.

Finally, I should touch on this humor business. Garth led me to believe this movie was scary. What have you done to me, Garth? This movie is a horror-comedy, if you believe in such things. It’s seems as imaginary as little green men in top hats to laugh at something scary. Laugh at your own stupid fear maybe, but… but… MY BRAIN! The jokes featured here are of the corniest stock. It’s cartoonish, bizarre, and I wouldn’t feel right saying that it works on any level when a joke is cracked as he’s cutting someone up. Maybe Garth was really afraid of how tacky this flick can be.

I won’t dismiss this movie. I got the sense that there was real potential here. Admittedly it’s nothing special and parts are done in poor taste, but if you’re into dated, bad movies, add this to your own list. One thing’s for sure: Davis seriously pulls of that costume.

Rating: Watch it… just ’cause.

tl;dr
Watch: Jennifer Aniston’s legs… Oh dear…
Don’t watch: Cheap. As corny as you’d imagine it to be.