Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mark Jones|
|Produced by||Jeffrey B. Mallian|
|Written by||Mark Jones|
|Edited by||Christopher Roth|
|Distributed by||Trimark Pictures|
|Box office||$8.6 million|
Leprechaun is a 1993 cult American horror comedy film written and directed by Mark Jones. It stars Warwick Davis in the title role and Jennifer Aniston in her film debut. The film was shot in Saugus, Santa Clarita, California.
In 1983, Daniel O'Grady returns home from a trip to Ireland to tell his wife he has captured a leprechaun and thus acquired his pot of gold. Unknown to him, the evil leprechaun stows away in a suitcase and kills his wife. After burying the gold, O'Grady discovers the leprechaun and attempts to kill it with a four-leaf clover. He traps the leprechaun inside a crate and attempts to burn it and the house to the ground, but he suffers a stroke.
Ten years later, J. D. Redding and his teenage daughter Tory rent the O'Grady farmhouse for the summer when they meet Nathan Murphy, his little brother Alex, and their dimwitted friend Ozzie Jones, who are re-painting the farmhouse. Ozzie is looking around the basement when he hears the leprechaun's cry for help, mistaking him for a little child. He brushes the old four-leaf clover off the crate, freeing the leprechaun. After unsuccessfully trying to convince the others that he met a leprechaun, Ozzie spots a rainbow and chases it, believing that there will be a pot of gold at the end. Alex accompanies him for fear Ozzie might hurt himself. A bag of one hundred gold pieces magically appears. After Ozzie tests the gold and accidentally swallows a piece, they plot to keep it for themselves, hoping to fix Ozzie's brain.
The leprechaun lures J. D. into a trap by imitating a cat, biting and injuring his hand. Tory and the others rush him to the hospital, and the leprechaun follows on a tricycle. Alex and Ozzie visit a pawn shop to see if the gold is pure while Nathan and Tory are out. The leprechaun attacks the pawn shop owner, killing him by crushing his chest with a pogo stick. After terrorizing and killing a policeman, the leprechaun returns to the farmhouse, where he searches for his gold and shines every shoe. Everyone but J. D. returns home. Finding the house ransacked, Nathan checks outside, where he is injured by a bear trap set up by the leprechaun.
After shooting the leprechaun several times, they attempt to flee the farmhouse, but the truck has been sabotaged by the leprechaun. After ramming the truck with his specially-made car, the leprechaun terrorizes the gang until Ozzie reveals that he and Alex found the pot of gold. Tory recovers the bag from the old well, and gives it to the Leprechaun. Believing the worst to be over, they leave for the hospital. While counting his gold, the leprechaun discovers that he is missing the gold piece Ozzie swallowed. Thinking that they have tricked him, he terrorizes them until Ozzie tells them about O'Grady, who was taken to a nursing home after his stroke. Tory visits the home to find out how to kill the leprechaun.
At the nursing home, the leprechaun pretends to be O'Grady and chases Tory to the elevator. Tory escapes, while the bloodied body of O'Grady crashes through. Before dying, O'Grady tells her that the only way to kill the leprechaun is with a four-leaf clover. Tory returns home and searches for a clover until she is chased by the leprechaun, who almost kills her; Nathan and Ozzie save her. Alex sets a trap, but the leprechaun nearly kills him. Ozzie tells him that he swallowed the last gold coin and is critically wounded by the leprechaun. Before the leprechaun can kill Ozzie, Alex takes the four-leaf clover from Tory, sticks it to a wad of gum and shoots it into the leprechaun's mouth, taking away his power. As the leprechaun's skeleton appears out of the well, Nathan hits him down and pours gas inside the well, blowing up the well and killing the leprechaun.
The police arrive, and Tory is reunited with her father. As the police investigate the remains of the well, the leprechaun vows he will not rest until he recovers every last piece of his gold.
- Warwick Davis as The Leprechaun
- Jennifer Aniston as Tory Redding
- Ken Olandt as Nathan Murphy
- Mark Holton as Ozzie Jones
- Robert Hy Gorman as Alex Murphy
- David Permenter as Deputy Tripet
- William Newman as Sheriff Cronin
- Shay Duffin as Dan O'Grady
- Pamela Mant as Mrs. O'Grady
- John Sanderford as J. D. Redding
- John Voldstad as Joe
Mark Jones, the writer-director, had a career in American television shows. Desiring to make a film, he decided that a low budget horror film was his best opportunity. Jones was inspired by the Lucky Charms commercials to create a leprechaun character, only his twist was to turn the character into an antagonist. Jones was further influenced by Critters, which featured a small antagonist. Jones brought the concept to Trimark, who were looking to get into film production and distribution. Leprechaun became the first theatrically released film to be produced by Trimark. Davis, who had experienced a dry spell after playing the protagonist in Willow, liked the script and was excited to play against type. Aniston, who was an unknown at the time, impressed Jones, and he fought to have her cast. The film was initially more of a straightforward horror film, but Davis sought to add more comedic elements. Jones agreed with this tonal shift, and they shot it as a horror comedy.
Gabe Bartoalos performed the make-up effects. Trimark contacted Bartalos to produce a sample. Bartalos' early efforts were not to his liking, and he began to push the design in a more grotesque, rage-filled direction, as that was what he wanted to see on the screen as a horror fan. Bartalos' design impressed Trimark, and he got the account. Applying the make-up took three hours, and taking it off took another 40 minutes.
Leprechaun opened in 620 theatres and took in $2,493,020 its opening week, ultimately earning $8,556,940 in the United States. Vidmark released it on VHS in April 1993 and on DVD in August 1998. Lionsgate released a triple feature collection on March 11, 2008. All seven films were released on Blu-ray in a collection in September 2014.
On release, critical reception for the film was negative. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 25% of 12 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 4/10. Vincent Canby of The New York Times called it "neither scary nor funny". Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Even if you're in the mood for a low-budget horror movie about a maniacal leprechaun in bloody quest of a crock of gold, you'd do well to pass on Leprechaun". Richard Harrington of The Washington Times wrote that the film "has major continuity and credibility problems" and is only interesting while Davis is on screen. Chris Hicks of The Deseret News described the plot as "by-the-numbers killings with no rhyme or reason" and said that the film should have gone direct-to-video. Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle called it cliched and uninteresting. James Berardinelli wrote, " How is the audience supposed to sympathize with a group of morons who act like they flunked kindergarten?" Ron Weiskind of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote, "Forget about the proverbial pot of gold. The movie Leprechaun is a crock." Matt Bourjaily of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the film "has brought new meaning to the term 'bad'". Jeff Makos of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that audience feedback would be more entertaining than the film itself. Robert Strauss of the Los Angeles Daily News called it "as witless and worthless a horror film as could possibly be conjured".
Despite the negative reviews, the film and its sequels have become cult films. In 2009, Tanya Gold of The Guardian selected it as one of the top ten scariest films for Halloween, and it is also watched on Saint Patrick's Day.
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- Leprechaun at Rotten Tomatoes
- Leprechaun at the Internet Movie Database
- Leprechaun digital comic books from Devil's Due Digital.