A few years ago, I spent a Halloween doing a full watch through Warwick Davis’s infamous “Leprechaun” franchise. Like most bad movie people, I was already very familiar with the first and fifth installments (“Leprechaun: In The Hood”), but I was curious about the rest of them.
For the most part, they are pretty forgettable. I can’t speak for the new WWE reboot of the franchise (“Leprechaun: Origins”), but “Leprechaun 6: Back 2 The Hood” and “Leprechaun 2” were nearly unwatchable and definitely the worst of the bunch that were out at the time.
“Leprechaun 4” is deserving of a rewatch/review post to itself: essentially, it is a generic sci-fi movie that has the Leprechaun cut in in lieu of an actual alien creature. It is a little bizarre, to say the least.
However, none of the Leprechaun movies (including the original and “In The Hood”) have stood out in my memory quite as much as “Leprechaun 3,” and I’m surprised it doesn’t get more attention.
As with a number of horror movie sequels, “Leprechaun 3” has a ridiculous, gimmicky setting to try and make the story new and interesting (see: “Jason Takes Manhattan”). In “Lep 3”, that setting is none other than Las Vegas, NV.
The more I have thought about it, the more I love the concept of this movie. Leprechauns are all about wishes, luck, and wealth: where better to throw one than Las Vegas? However, the setting is only the surface of what is notable about this flick.
In a baffling turn, the plot of “Leprechaun 3” actually primarily centers around a person who is bitten by Warwick Davis’s creature, who slowly (and inexplicably) starts to become what I can only describe as a “were-leprechaun.” Yeah, that’s the kind of movie we are dealing with.
As I mentioned, it has been a few years since my “Leprechaun” marathon, so I was curious as to how much I might have forgotten about this film, and if I was perhaps remembering it more fondly as a good-bad movie than I should have. So, I just gave it a re-watch, and here are some of my thoughts on it after a second viewing.
I totally forgot how this movie began, and what brought the Leprechaun to Vegas in the first place. A one-eyed man (who I don’t recall from the second movie) wanders into a pawn shop in Vegas with the Leprechaun, in it’s dormant stone form, dragging behind him in a raggedy sack. He then sells him to the pawn broker for 20 bucks and disappears. The broker then almost immediately awakens the Leprechaun by removing his cursed medallion, to the shock of no one. Then, the rhyming starts. I almost forgot just how horrible and distracting the lazy and cringe-worthy rhyming dialogue was in these movies.
Perhaps the only thing worse than Warwick Davis’s lines in these movies are the ones given to everyone else. Here’s an interaction from the film, for instance, after a young boy discovers a woman whose car has broken down:
“Have you ever blown a rod before?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“The engine, I meant”
Oh come on now, that is a bit of a stretch (to say the least). And this is less than 5 minutes into the film, in one of the first lines of dialogue introducing central characters. It doesn’t exactly go up from there, either. Speaking of which, that “young boy” (who supposedly isn’t old enough to walk on a casino floor) looks like he is almost 30.
Here’s another thing I forgot: the internet hilariously plays a really important role in this 1995 movie. I am a total sucker for movies that include the internet before anyone knew much about it, and this one is no different. The internet in this movie is basically just a poorly animated storybook and guide to everything Leprechaun (and Were-Leprechaun) related.
Another thing that somehow slipped my memory: one of the main characters is a skeevy magician, who is played as hammily as possible by an actor named John DeMita, who primarily does voice acting nowadays for video games and English dubs of anime series (“Final Fantasy XIII-2,” “Naruto”).
The leads of the film are the aforementioned 30 year old supposed teenager, who becomes hooked on gambling / becomes a were-leprechaun, and his love interest: an ambitious magician’s assistant. Other notable characters in the unnecessarily and shockingly large cast of “Leprechaun 3” include an over-the-hill roulette dealer who lusts for the beauty of her youth, a casino worker who is in debt to the mob, and, strangely enough, the pawn broker from the opening. Somehow, the Leprechaun winds up stuck in that pawn shop for over half an hour of run time, making the broker a mildly important player in the film. His theft of one of the Leprechaun’s coins is the catalyst of the entire casino-centric story.
When the Leprechaun finally does make it to the casino, the movie somewhat sidetracks as he starts taking out most of the accessory cast while his last lost coin continues to change hands. The most notable of these deaths is of the roulette dealer, who wishes for youth and beauty. As with any sort of crafty and devious wish-granting creature, it quickly goes sideways on her when Leppy tracks her down. This is one of those things that is easier to show than to tell:
There are just no words to describe how ridiculous that is. I have to admit, though, that’s kind of what I assumed happened off screen in “Willie Wonka.”
The whole middle act of the film is basically Warwick Davis hamming it up in the casino, killing off characters, and continuing with all of the worst rhymes that the writers could think up. The best of all of these deaths is definitely the magician’s, who bites it towards the end of the movie in a unique take on the classic “sawing a person in half” trick.
Of course, I have to get into the whole “were-leprechaun” plot. It turns out that it was a little different than what I remembered: the main character is turned into a were-leprechaun because he both bitten and is exposed to Leppy’s blood, which is apparently toxic and burns like acid (very xenomorph-like). Other than that, it is about exactly what you would expect: he starts wearing bad prosthetic facial hair, freckles magically appear on his face, and he starts rhyming incessantly in a fake Irish accent. It is pretty annoying in the moment, but hilarious to look back on.
There is a particular segment of the film that I forgot about in which the magician’s assistant and co-lead, Tammy, is possessed by the lost coin after the casino boss makes a wish to sleep with her. The coin is stolen again before anything happens, but the whole segment has massively uncomfortable undertones. The casino boss is almost immediately killed afterwards by Leppy, who summons a killer sex robot from his TV, which is one of the more bizarre cases of instant karma in film that you’ll ever come across.
The finale, of course, features some extensive Leprechaun battles between Leppy and the were-creature, and features lines such as:
For pulling this trick,
I’ll chop off your dick!
Cut her nose,
and I’ll hack off your toes!
Power to power
You have much to learn
Taller or shorter
I’ll make you burn!
I can’t emphasize this enough: every single line between these two central characters in the last act is like this. Back and forth, back and forth: constant. Again, this is as annoying as anything in the universe to sit through, but I am laughing my ass off thinking about it now.
The Leprechaun is ultimately defeated with the creative use of a flamethrower, but only after he fails to lure Scott, the were-leprechaun, to join him on what he literally refers to as “the green side.” Scott is magically cured of his were-leprechaunism after the bout for reasons that aren’t exactly clear meaning that there’s a happy ending for Tammy and Scott. However, the last line has to be overdone, inappropriate, and cheesy, so the writers decided to rip off the last line to “Casablanca.” I can’t even begin to go into how much is wrong with that.
So, does “Leprechaun 3” hold up as a good bad movie? Honestly, it is way better than I remembered (on a good-bad level, of course). The characters are all hammed up to the max, the plot is the perfect sort of nonsense. I would recommend this one over the original or “In The Hood” in a heartbeat. In general, this is a movie that bad movie lovers should not miss by any means. The only big problem with it is the casino boss sequence’s sexual assault overtones, which could have been fixed really easily with a quick rewrite. It isn’t just unnecessary for the story and shitty to include, but it also messes with the whole tone of the movie. With that caveat, this is a solid good-bad movie recommendation from me.