Vinny discusses how Leprechaun, one of the of the most insane horror hits of all time, works.
“You don’t put Warwick Davis on a Tri-Cycle if you don’t know what you’re doing.” – Vinny Murphy, 2019
Yes, I just quoted myself.
Actually, I didn’t quote myself, since I’m sitting here writing this article and have not ever said that out loud nor has it appeared in print. I just quoted my own thoughts. Somebody get me my National Film Critics award.
Okay, Okay. We’re not here to talk about my genius though, we’re here to talk about the 1993 Horror-Comedy Leprechaun. Starring Warwick Davis as the titular villain, it was a somewhat harsh turn for the actor. Best known for his roles as Ewok Wicket W. Warrick in Return of the Jedi and Willow Ufgood in Willow, seeing Davis’ distinctive frame committing such heinous acts is a riot in itself. Leprechaun knows it is stupid, and it works because of it.
The film opens with the villain in full view and no attempt to build the drama of his debut.
There wouldn’t have been drama anyway.
Everyone in that theater (or more likely, that living room) knew what they were in for. The film need only deliver the gore and fun it promised. After a Bond-Opening of sorts, the main cast is introduced.
A rich, well meaning father. A charming, middle-class hunk. The town simpleton. The totally radical Nineties tween with attitude.
And, of course, the final girl. One that excels at the role to an unexpected extent.
Jennifer Aniston appears in her first featured role and boy, does she knock it out of the park. Not only is she the strongest performer in the entire film, she clearly understands what the film needs to work. When she needs to be serious, she is, but it is mostly her comedic timing that powers this one. Without her, many of the gags simply would not have landed as effectively. While I don’t think that the film’s comedy would have completely failed without her, I do think this anchoring of the series is the reason we’re currently on sequel number seven. Aniston makes Leprechaun something special, when it could have just been another fun B-Movie romp.
“I wanted to kinda do a Live-Action Scooby-Doo” – Mark Jones, 2014
The cast is backed by writer/director Mark Jones’ sense for over-the-top action and comedy. Jones is a prolific creator in television, having worked on everything from Scooby-Doo to the A-Team. He takes his experience into his first feature and proves that his success is not a fluke. Jones may not be the most critically acclaimed creator, but he is a master at what he does. The Make-Up, Special and Visual Effects teams also deserve notable credit. One of the underlying strengths of the film can be found in its use of budget. Nothing that appears on screen looks cheap. Sure, some of it probably is, but everyone has the sense to keep it consistent. This is a trait too often ignored in horror, even now with digital effects.
At the end of the day, Leprechaun is another relatively low-budget horror comedy. That said, it is one of the best ever made.