It’s that time of year again when the popularity shines for one of the silliest and most fun monsters in the horror-comedy genre: the Leprechaun! With the titular role mostly being portrayed by beloved actor Warwick Davis (Willow, Harry Potter series), the franchise has released eight films since its initial release in 1993. Though only the first two films were released in theaters, the franchise has a total box-office returning of more than $ 10 million. The series went on to spawn six more made-for-tv and straight-to-DVD sequels, including two entries from WWE Studios and SYFY.
After the most recent release in 2018, there have been constant reboot discussions and even rumblings of a Candyman Vs. Leprechaun movie floating around, though nothing ever came of it due to Tony Todd’s reluctance to disrespect his iconic character. Every St. Patrick’s Day, SYFY plays all the Leprechaun films in the order they were released, though most of the films’ timelines were not in any kind of chronological order. As March begins, and we get closer to holiday, we celebrate the Leprechaun series by ranking the films from worst to best.
8 Leprechaun: Origins (2014)
Having nothing to do with the rest of the franchise, Leprechaun: Origins follows two couples backpacking through Ireland who stumble upon an ancient area prowled by a fearsome creature from Irish folklore. This entry is widely regarded as the worst of the series, not just because it was not related to the other films or because it was the first of the series without Warwick Davis, but because the entire feel and theme was changed in this WWE Studios product. When Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl was first cast for the lead role, fans thought they would be a character more similar to Davis’s portrayal, but got an uneventful creature feature instead.
7 Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)
In the fifth entry of the franchise, the titular Leprechaun has a run-in with 70s pimp named Mack Daddy (played by Ice-T), who traps him and lives a life of fame and riches. Three decades later, three aspiring rappers accidentally unleash the Leprechaun while trying to get even with Mack Daddy for insulting their tunes, and the monster goes on a vengeful rampage. Leprechaun in the Hood is cringe-worthy in all the ways a self-proclaimed Black film written (and directed) by five white men can be. The movie is chock-full of racial stereotypes, bad one-liners (even for this franchise), and lackluster monster kills. The one positive that comes from this film is its contribution to horror-themed rap songs, with “The Leprechaun Rap”.
6 Leprechaun 2 (1994)
Immediately following up the original one year after its release, Leprechaun 2 is the only other film in the franchise to receive a theater release. In this film, some backstory is delivered on the monster is given, including his 1,000 year-long lust for the perfect bride. When Jennifer Aniston refused to return for the sequel, some more comedic relief was added into the story from actors like Tony Cox and Clint Howard, but the film was horribly panned by critics and audiences alike, causing a major box-office failure and for the rest of the series to go straight-to-video. Leprechaun 2 is the only film in the franchise to actually take place on St. Patrick’s Day, making it one of the few horror films that revolves around the holiday.
5 Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)
In what is probably the wackiest of the Leprechaun movies, Leprechaun 4: In Space brings the viewers to a remote planet in the year 2096, when the Leprechaun’s courting of an alien princess goes awry as space marines show up to ruin the party. Although this is perhaps the silliest entry and “borrows” a lot from other popular science fiction films, it boasts some of the best and most fun special effects of the franchise. The entire concept of this film was based on the director thinking about a spoofed version of Tom Hanks in an Apollo 13 movie poster.
4 Leprechaun 6: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)
In Leprechaun 6: Back 2 Tha Hood, a group of teenage do not heed the warnings of an old psychic, and release the Leprechaun after coming across his treasure chest of gold. The original writer from the fifth entry was supposed to write this one, but was replaced after the directed did not want a re-hashing of the previous film. Back 2 tha Hood had a better storyline, better effects, and much less racial stereotyping throughout the film. Some scenes were legitimately funny, though many lines from the original film were repeated in Warwick Davis’ last appearance as the Leprechaun.
3 Leprechaun Returns (2018)
Leprechaun Returns is one of the whole entries of the series that acts as a direct sequel to other films. This one is a direct sequel to the original, taking place decades after the first film, and starring Taylor Spreitler as Lila, the daughter of Jennifer Aniston’s character from the original film. Mark Holton, who played Ozzie in the first film, also comes back for this one. Most notably, Leprechaun Returns is directed by modern monster guru Steve Kostanski (The VoidPG: Psycho Goreman) so the special effects look great, and the story is fun, but unfortunately SYFY could not get Warwick Davis to reprise his role due to scheduling conflicts.
2 Leprechaun 3 (1995)
Leprechaun 3 has some of the best kills in the franchise, and although the pacing is a little slow, seeing our little green friend search for gold in the streets of Las Vegas is actually pretty fun. Though this was the first in the series to go straight-to-video, Warwick Davis has been vocal about it being his favorite in the series. This film was also the highest-grossing direct-to-video film in 1995. Originally, this film was supposed to be titled The Trial of the Leprechaunand act as a direct sequel to Leprechaun 2but the story was completely re-written and that idea was scrapped shortly after its inception.
1 Leprechaun (1993)
It does not get much better than the OG, as Leprechaun boasted the first major feature role for Emmy award-winning actress Jennifer Aniston, and provided the first and best story of the franchise. Warwick Davis was particularly sinister in the role, and the kills were a little more on the brutal side of the series. Originally it was rumored that Aniston denied wanting anything to do with the film, but once it was released on DVD, interest in her career took off. Despite being a critical failure, the film has achieved cult-classic status and is loved by many horror fans.
We look at six actors that made appearances in horror films before getting their big breaks, including Jennifer Aniston in 1993’s Leprechaun.
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