Among the pantheon of slasher movie franchises, there’s perhaps none more unlucky than the Leprechaun series. Featuring a feisty and fiendish little Irishman who’s always going to vile lengths to secure his precious gold, the series is known for hitting all kinds of highs — except in quality. Despite being critically reviled and disliked even by more forgiving horror movie fans, the Leprechaun series almost always delivers in the laughs department.
Thanks to the antics of lead actor Warwick Davis, the Leprechaun movies revel in a degree of comedy and camp that few other horror films can attest. They might not succeed much in terms of quality or even scares, but these Halloween/St. Patrick’s Day mashups are easily the funniest slasher movies around.
The Leprechaun Movies Are Even Funnier Than Some of Freddy Krueger’s Films
Most slasher movies feature killers that are stoic, reserved and essentially just zombies. The likes of Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers never really speak, with mere grunting being about the most that these types of villains do, in the terms of audio actions. One notable exception is Freddy Krueger, who went from a sardonic dream demon to a joke-cracking wiseacre who, despite his murderous intent, was never too legit to quip. In the later entries in his series, he would frequently make all manner of pop culture references while engaging in physical comedy, turning his kills from torture into comedy skits.
Freddy met his match, however, in the 1993 horror flick Leprechaun. Initially meant to be a pure horror film involving a demonic version of the mythological figure known in modern times for hawking breakfast cereal, the movie was instead a horror comedy thanks to Warwick Davis. This actor known for his roles in the Star Wars franchise and the film Willow was used to having heroic roles, but the eponymous leprechaun Lubdan was anything but. Murderously mischievous and filled with gleeful avarice, Lubdan’s actions, goals and powers wax and wane with each new movie.
What never wavers, however, is the licentious little leprechaun’s tendency for jokes and funny situations. Happily jumping from scene to scene in search of his gold and killing anyone who stands in his way, the magical man in miniature lights up even the dullest scene, which helps to liven up what can be some pretty terrible films. After all, not even Freddy Krueger would venture forth into “da hood” before partaking of smoking a “good pipe” and getting rather high-minded in nature. Sequences like these have turned some of the later Leprechaun films, in particular, into laughable classics, and they’re actually regarded more fondly than other slasher sequels due to this campy nature.
Leprechaun Represents a 1990s Comedic Shift in the Slasher Genre
By the early 1990s, the slasher genre, which had ruled the roost in horror films from the late 1970s through the 1980s, was now long in the tooth. Former horror royalty such as Freddy Krueger and especially Jason Vorhees had gone from princes to paupers, with their deluge of sequels simply seeming old hat by that point. Part of the issue was that they were no longer scary, though other franchises would run with such an idea.
The Child’s Play movies began in the late ’80s, with killer doll Chucky being a definite change of pace for slashers. He also had a bit of a comedic edge, largely by nature of his being a kid’s plaything. This concept would only be ramped up in Leprechaun, which made the idea of a killer leprechaun as funny as it was scary. Even the subversive Scream movies of the era were essentially satires and deconstructions of the genre theretofore, with the horror subgenre willing to laugh at itself and its tropes like never before.
This combination of laughter with terror was done best in the films starring Lubdan the Leprechaun, with audiences who enjoyed his amusing actions being perhaps the luckiest of all. The franchise was last seen in the 2018 film Leprechaun Returns. With a new movie supposedly on the way, fans will hopefully be able to give the Blarney Stone another bloodied kiss sometime soon.