Horror’s Icons: Leprechaun
In this week’s Horror’s Icons, I will take a look at a tiny terror in horror: The Leprechaun. The first Leprechaun movie hit theaters in 1993 and introduced the horror world to another holiday/mythical horror killer. But unlike a killer Santa Claus or a madman killing on Halloween, the idea of a leprechaun just did not seem frightening. But just one look at this leprechaun and the audience knows this is not the same leprechaun that appears on cereal boxes. Sure, he wants his pot of gold just like any other leprechaun, but he will literally kill to make sure he has every piece of gold that is his.
In the original film, a man named Daniel O’Grady captures the leprechaun (Warwick Davis), whose name is Lubdan, while in Ireland and ships the pot of gold to his home in America. He doesn’t realize that the leprechaun has followed him and attacks him once in North Dakota. He captures the murderous Lubdan in a wooden crate and “seals” him in with a four-leaf clover. But before he can do anything else, he suffers a stroke and dies.
Fast-forward 10 years and the leprechaun, still locked in the crate, is accidentally unleashed by Tory Redding (a then-unknown Jennifer Aniston) and her friends. Once unleashed, the crazed leprechaun goes on a murderous rampage to retrieve his pot of gold, which was found by two of Tory’s friends. After killing any one that gets in his way, he regains most of his gold but is defeated when a young boy shoots a four-leaf clover down his throat and falls in a well. After he falls, one of the survivors blows the well up ending the leprechaun’s reign of terror.
The leprechaun would not come up short (pun intended) though and would return in Leprechaun 2 in 1994. In this film, the little killer seeks to find a bride in Los Angeles, one thousand years after he failed to do the same. He finds a young girl that is a descendant of the woman he originally tried to marry and held her hostage in his lair (he had a lair in LA?). He continues to kill anyone that tries to stop him while terrorizing the young girl’s boyfriend because he had one of the leprechaun’s gold coins. Eventually, when the final showdown comes, the boyfriend saves the girl and kills Lubdan by impaling him with wrought iron, one of the few things that can be fatal to the Leprechaun.
Just a year later, Leprechaun 3 would be released and sees Lubdan bringing his bad luck to Las Vegas. After being “killed” in the previous film, the leprechaun is turned into a statue by a magical medallion. He is sold to a pawn shop but returns to his original form once the pawn shop owner removes the medallion from the statue. Lubdan then begins to terrorize the people in Sin City while trying to find some of his coins. He continues his rampage until he defeated by a young couple that burn his gold coins causing them to vanish and causing Lubdan to burst into flames.
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM
In most horror franchises, there is usually a movie where the villain is sent to space for some reason. It is almost a guarantee. Jason Voorhees went to space. So did Pinhead. And, in 1997, Lubdan boarded a space ship with the release of Leprechaun 4: In Space. Set in the future, the leprechaun is courting Zarina, an alien princess (pictured above), by promising her wealth. He is blown up however by a group of marines that rescue Zarina. But, in the weirdest of the weird, the leprechaun is reborn and busts through a man’s groin and the rampage begins. He continues to search for his stolen bride and, of course, his gold while slaughtering in space. This movie also sees Lubdan turned into a giant due to an enlargement ray. The movie ends though with the leprechaun being ejected from the ship and into space by the surviving members of the ship.
After this space venture, the leprechaun was not seen again until the year 2000. After being ejected from the space ship, he apparently landed in Compton for the new film Leprechaun: In The Hood. That’s right! And if you think the name is ridiculous, just wait. Lubdan is again turned into a statue by pimp Mack Daddy O’Nassas (Ice-T) who uses the leprechaun’s mind-controlling magic flute to become a successful music producer. Years later though, a rapper by the name of Postmaster P. and his posse steal Lubdan’s gold and the flute but, in the process, turn the leprechaun back to his original form. The leprechaun, and Mack Daddy, then go after Postmaster P. and his boys. In the end, the Leprechaun kills everyone except Postmaster P., who he brainwashes into becoming his servant.
If this wasn’t enough, 2003 saw the release of Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood. This time Lubdan stalks a priest who has his gold but is pulled into the ground by demonic hands after the priest uses four-leaf clover laced holy water against him. Years later, a young girl named Emily and her friends find the gold and begin to use it which unleashes the leprechaun. As usual, he begins killing anyone in his way in his search to get his gold back. In the end, the leprechaun is defeated by Emily and her boyfriend when they knock him and his gold off a roof and into a pool of wet cement.
LONG REST FOR A SHORT KILLER
In March 2012, Lionsgate and WWE Studios announced their intentions to reboot the Leprechaun series with the release of Leprechaun: Origins. This film is set to star Dylan Postl, who is better known to wrestling fans as the WWE’s Hornswaggle, as Lubdan. The film was originally set to be released in March 2013 but nothing was heard about the film until May when Zach Lipovsky was announced as the film’s director. The film is now set to be released in 2014 and will also star Stephanie Bennett, Teach Grant, and Bruce Blain.
It will be interesting to see how this film turns out. Since this is a reboot, there is a chance to start fresh and make the murderous leprechaun scary again and not a walking, killing comedian. Also, the films that WWE Studios have been releasing are improving and Lionsgate has become the go-to studio for horror in recent years. On the other hand though, this is still the leprechaun series so nothing can be certain. And the casting of Postl will be critical to if the movie can be scary. Fans of the WWE know him as a prankster in his wrestling character. With this known, will people be able to watch him play Lubdan without thinking about him giving his “tadpole splash” from the top rope? That remains to be seen. But next year we will have the chance to find out when the film is released.
A KILLER FROM A LEGEND
Like any legendary figure, the leprechaun had to change a little to be a scary villain on screen. Despite wearing the typical green outfit that apparently every leprechaun owns, Lubdan sports a mug that is as horrible as his murderous ways. He looks more like a troll than the Lucky Charm’s guy. And he doesn’t whine about losing his pot of gold either. Nope. He kills relentlessly until he gets his gold. Try to steal just one piece of gold and you will feel his wrath. Whether it is by using his magic, using various weapons, or ripping you apart, Lubdan will make sure you pay for trying to steal from him.
And while he kills with the relentlessness of other villains like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, he also has the since of humor like Freddy Krueger. While the ultimate goal in to take your life, he will have as much fun as possible while doing it. One example is when he killed a man by jumping on him on a pogo stick. While committing this unique kill, he declares, “This old lep, he played one, he played pogo on his lung.”. Demented but kind of funny. A couple other great lines from the leprechaun are, “Tell me or I’ll bite your ear off and I’ll make a boot out of it.”, “Your boobs are big, your butt is small, but still your in for quite a fall.”, and “For pulling this trick, I’ll chop off your dick.”. Sounds like a pretty funny guy until he actually follows through. Which he will indeed. And while that is just a few of his lines, here is a collection of his famous quotes as posted on Youtube.
THE MAN THAT WANTS HIS GOLD
While Dylan Postl will portray Lubdan in the upcoming reboot, the man that has brought the character to life in the previous six films is Warwick Davis. And until Postl can be judged, Davis IS the leprechaun. Davis is a veteran English actor that has appeared in over 50 films and television shows. While he known by many for his portrayal of Lubdan in the six original Leprechaun films, he is probably better known for a handful of other roles.
In 1983, in a job he described as a dream job, he starred as Wicket W. Warrick, an Ewok, in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. His portrayal of the Ewok will always be remembered by fans of the movie saga and helped Davis start his career. This helped lead to his role of Willow Ufgood in the 1988 film Willow. It was after this that he took the role of Lubdan before returning to the world of Star Wars by playing multiple characters in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. And then, in 2001, Davis would take another role in a popular series by playing Professor Flitwick in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He would continue to portray this character through 2011, until the film series ended. Even to this day, Davis is still acting appearing in Jack the Giant Slayer and the TV series Top Gear.
Well, another week is done and another icon is given his due time. It was fun looking back at the Leprechaun series. While the movies feature some of the dumbest premises, they are a joy to watch if you are a fan of campy horror films. And now that I gave Lubdan his proverbial “pot of gold”, it is time to go from campy to creepy. Next week I will look at The Creeper from the Jeepers Creepers series. Thanks for reading and remember, don’t fool with any pots of gold no matter how tempting it may be. It’s just not worth it.