Sunday, 26 August 2012

Leprechaun (1993)

Dir. Mark Jones
Starring: Warwick Davis, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Olandt, Mark Holton 

I thought everybody loved the Irish? Maybe this will change after watching Leprechaun, where the monster is Life’s Too Short’s Warwick Davis spouting paradiddles and jigging about in green top hat, buckled shoes and green jacket. You see, he’s after his crock of gold. “Try as they will, and try as they might, who steals me gold won’t live through the night…” 
This particular leprechaun finds himself in America after ‘Oirish’ rogue Daniel O’Grady (Shay Duffin) catches him back in the Old Country and forces him to give up the location of his gold. When O’Grady takes the gold back to his farm in North Dakota the vengeful imp is on his tail. With the help of a four-leafed clover Dan prevails and imprisons the leprechaun in a crate in his cellar. 
Ten years later and J.D. (John Sanderford) has bought the old O’Grady farm, bringing his spoiled L.A. Valley girl daughter Tory (Jennifer Aniston) out with him. After the leprechaun is accidentally released and her father hospitalised it is up to Tory and the three local decorators - Mark Holton’s simple Ozzie, Robert Gorman’s Macauley Culkin-alike Alex and Ken Olandt’s Nathan (chanelling Kevin Bacon in a sleeveless shirt) – to live through the night and defeat the monstrous pixie. Meanwhile he terrorises the vicinity on a string of wheeled contraptions – toddler trikes, pogo sticks, skateboards, wheelchairs and roller skates. He cares only about finding his gold... and shining their shoes. Quirky!
The Irish Paralympians were determined to get gold
Tory is played by Jennifer Aniston, in her first film role. Yes, it’s a film starring Jennifer Aniston. For those of you who might have entertained even the slightest hope that Leprechaun was going to be a good movie I'm sure knowing this pretty much dispels your illusions right there. With the honourable exception of Office Space (in which she does not have a large role) Aniston has an incredible knack of appearing in absolutely atrocious movies. I must admit, I have not seen many of them, but The Object of My Affections and The Bounty Hunter must be two of the worst films I have ever watched. Others – like Along Came Polly, Marley & Me and The Switch - sound even worse from the reviews I have read. There must be someone out there who thinks there is a massive Jennifer Aniston fan club willing to see whatever dreck she is cast in. Or maybe they just know that they will get good publicity as the rumours that she is dating her co-star inevitably circulate. That being said, I must put my hands up and state for the record that she is probably the best thing about this film. Tory Redding is, essentially, Rachel Green in terrible patchwork denim shorts. Her spoilt princess is still kinda likeable and she does have good comic timing. Without Aniston Leprechaun would have had far less entertainment value.

Leprechaun is not a scary movie. It is not even particularly gory. It sort of goes for ‘comedy-horror’, but without the wit of, say, Gremlins or even Tremors. It knows it is silly and plays that up. The over-all tone is camp and kitschy. It is a schlock-horror. Unlike The Mist it does not presume to take itself seriously. I suppose its reception depends on how amusing you find Warwick Davis’s fiddle-dee-dee ‘Oirish-isms’. The character of Alex is annoying, and that of Ozzie borderline insulting. The music is straight off the Horror Soundtracks vol. III album. Worst of all, the ending sets up the resultant string of sequels. 

The final word on this pretty poor movie has to go to Daniel O’Grady himself: “Burn in hell ye little green bastard!” 

What have I learnt about North Dakota?
I have no idea why the film was set in North Dakota. It could quite easily have been set in Ireland (though I suppose people there might have been more willing to heed warnings about a murderous leprechaun). The setting only needs to be suitably isolated (though within a drive of a hospital emergency room, a convalescent home and a helpful antique dealer store). It also needs to be somewhere a Valley Girl would not appreciate spending her summer holidays (the diners don’t even serve watercress salad and Evian). The one insight we can really glean is that life is simpler here than back in L.A. and an apology will work better than offering to pay for damages. Oh, and there are opossums and bears in the backcountry. 

Can we go there?
Other than an introductory statement specifying that they were in North Dakota (and not New Mexico) there are no insights given as to where about in the state the action is supposed to occur. At first I thought that there was a clue when Tory and Nathan are seen in a diner called the Saugus Café. But this is just a clue to where the film was actually shot – Saugus just north of Los Angeles. 

Overall Rating: 2/5

1 comment:

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