Arthur is an avid television and movie fan with horror being his favored genre. If you can name it, he has probably seen it. Twice.
The Leprechaun franchise is a fascinating one for many reasons. They win the award for creativity in their gratuitous nude scenes, they don't even try to be linear in any fashion, and they are very self-aware in how corny they are. All of these characteristics and more are what have made this franchise so endearing to its fans. Plus, it is one more way for the great Warwick Davis to show off that his size is actually an attribute. I have ranked the movies in the Leprechaun franchise from worst to first for your reading pleasure.
This is actually the newest in the Leprechaun franchise and by far the worst. There is a disturbing trend in the horror industry where movies that are not good enough to be a stand-alone film have a franchise tag slapped on them in order to get a little attention (see Hellraiser 5 and beyond). This movie has nothing to do with the franchise whatsoever and was a pathetic attempt at a "reboot". Really, the WWE just had some money to spend and wanted to toss one of their stars into a poorly branded movie. I wish I could make up another Leprechaun right now just to put some more space between this movie and the rest of them.
Leprechaun 4: In Space
This entire series is bonkers, but this particular movie takes the take. There is no explanation as to why they are in space to begin with or how the leprechaun got there. They also try to work in every outer space cliché that they had ever heard. This movie does win the award for the most ridiculous gratuitous nude scene in the history of cinema. Even that little gem cannot move it higher on this list as this movie moves past being so bad that it's good and lands on being just plain bad..
This movie is where the entire franchise jumped the shark. It is not like the other movies were at all believable, but this one stepped way outside the realm of plausibility. It made sure that you were aware that it had nothing to do with the first two movies and added an extra layer of WTF-ness when the main character begins to transform into another leprechaun for no reason. Of course, this is somewhat of a horror comedy, but I can't help feeling like the joke was on them for this one.
Leprechaun in the Hood
Leprechaun in the Hood definitely took the franchise in a different direction. It stars Ice-T which should be a plus, but this movie was a total blaxploitationfilm made in the year 2000. They, for some reason, bring back the leprechaun statue from the third movie which is just one of many parts of this movie which will leave you scratching your head. They also randomly introduce a magical flute which has power over people and leprechauns alike. Then there are the zombie Fly Girls that the Leprechaun can summon at will apparently. Though it fits into the Leprechaun brand due to sheer ludicrousness it is not exactly what fans of the franchise asked for.
If you ignore the fact that the first Leprechaun movie happened, this isn't actually a bad sequel. The movie starts 1,000 years in the past where the Leprechaun is cheated out of a wife thanks to his slave and vows revenge on his ancestors. The thing is that, according to this movie, the Leprechaun then goes to sleep for 1,000 years which makes the first movie impossible. Anyway, the movie is bad, the jokes are bad, and the acting is bad, all of which makes a good Leprechaun movie. This is also another movie which should have won an award for gratuitous nudity for a scene that was only put in the film to showcase boobs. As far as Leprechaun movies go this one isn't great, but it isn't that bad either.
Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood
If you were to just read the title of this movie there is no way that you would watch it and there is definitely no way that you would believe that it is one of the best installments in the franchise. It is consistent with the fact that it is not consistent at all. The Leprechaun is again free to roam until a preacher has him dragged back to hell, but that is the opening scene and he comes back again to terrorize some kids. Instead of a pot of gold, this time he has a never-ending chest of gold which leads the kids to think they have struck it rich until good old Lep shows up and starts murdering people around them. The acting and production of this film aren't half bad and they do a great job of portraying characters which are both strong and vulnerable.
The Leprechaun Returns
In a style that is becoming increasingly popular in the late twenty-teens, the Leprechaun franchise's newest entry asks you to forget every sequel ever made. The Leprechaun Returns takes us back to where it all started and even stars Mark Holton as Ozzie from the original. Though it is quite apparent that this a straight to VOD movie, this movie brings a lot to the table. They attack so many horror tropes in ways so subtle that you may miss them if you aren't paying close enough attention. Some of the parody in this film is so good that it makes me feel like it was wasted on a movie in the Leprechaun franchise. As far as the horror aspect goes, this film was pretty run of the mill and even tame by many accounts. It sucks that they didn't bring Warwick Davis back to reprise his role - which they bring up in a throwaway line- but the new actor didn't do too bad in the part. If I were comparing this film to other horror movies, it would probably not fare so well, but in this franchise, it is pretty close to the top.
Someone had to have been really high when they came up with this idea. The film is about an evil, murderous, limerick-delivering Leprechaun who is hell-bent on getting his gold back and will murder anyone who gets in his way. Apart from the overall corniness of the movie there are a few funny things about it. It stars a young Jennifer Aniston and a nose that she no longer owns and, for a horror movie, the body count is incredibly low. Though this movie will never contend with some of the scarier slashers that have ever been produced it may be a contender for the top spot of the horror-comedy subgenre.
The Leprechaun movies are all over the place from plot to setting, but that is part of their charm. There is something great about the fact that these movies are all stand-alone projects that completely ignore their predecessors. The one thing they have in common is Warwick Davis' green meanie. Davis is still very much active in Hollywood so I guess there is hope that he could again take up the Leprechaun mantle and deliver us another classic.