CONTAINS O'SPOILERS, BEGORRAH, DIDDLE-DE-DEE, ME DARLIN'!
Really? Sometimes it's genuinely surprising what makes it to franchise status and what gets left behind as a one-off, a narrative cul-de-sac rather than a long and winding road heading off into the wilderness. You can understand why Freddy Kruger got a career and Horace Pinker from Shocker didn't, because Shocker is rubbish - but then Mark Jones' twaddlesome 1993 comedy-horror Leprechaun, which would probably be forgotten had it not boasted an early lead role for Jennifer Aniston, was barely worthy of one film outing, let alone half a dozen. Despite his magical powers, the Leprechaun isn't scary, and his penchant for speaking in rhyming couplets in an Oirish accent just makes him an annoying little pillock more than a threatening movie bogeyman. There's also the problem that, as with Dracula, he's got so many vulnerabilities and there's so much arcane lore governing his behaviour that he's easily outwitted and trapped by his own stupid rules.
Despite the stupidity of the central idea, Leprechaun 2 at least is fairly tolerable on its chosen level and does rustle up enough visual nastiness to get by, though it is still stuck with being a Leprechaun movie. The Leprechaun (Warwick Davis) turns up in Los Angeles to claim his bride on his 1,000th birthday: Bridget, the direct descendant of his slave who betrayed him a millennium ago. Alas, she's dating a young idiot named Cody who hustles tourists into an embarrassingly unscary tour of celebrity death spots - but by chance he's picked up one of the Leprechaun's gold shillings which the Lep wants back. Can he and his drunken boss defeat the evil beast at the go-kart track? Can he rescue his comely girlfriend from the Lep's secret lair?
It's pleasantly grisly in places - enough to warrant an 18 - and competently enough done by Rodman Flender, but it does ultimately become silly with Cody, Bridget and the Lep chasing one another round the cheaply set-dressed corridors inside the Lep's treehouse. However, on the silliness scale, Leprechaun 2 is Glengarry Glen Ross when set against Leprechaun 3, in which the Lep "terrorises" Las Vegas ("terrorises" being a euphemism for "makes a bloody nuisance of himself in"). Astonishingly, this rot was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, who was all over the Ozploitation scene in the 1980s. Somewhere between the two films, the Leprechaun (Davis again) has got himself turned into a statue and sealed with a medallion; an ill-advised pawn shop owner removes the medallion, Lep comes to life, one of his precious pieces of gold gets lost, same routine again. In his quest for the wish-granting shilling, several greedy idiots meet absurd fates, including a lecherous casino owner seduced by a woman who climbs out of his TV set (several years before Ringu, incidentally), turns into a cyborg and electrocutes him, and a woman who wishes she was young and sexy again only to have her boobs and bum inflate and explode. Ha ha ha.
One of the great mysteries of our time is not how the Leprechaun series managed to get to Part 3, but why there are still another three films to go including - I blarney you not - Leprechaun In Space. Worse still: they're planning a reboot with a wrestler nicknamed Hornswoggle in the title role! You could make the case that it's kind of racist to indulge the worst of baseless Oirish stereotypes, and it's debatably heightist as well with an evil antagonist who's four foot tall when he's wearing his big hat. Less open to question is the very simple matter of whether it's any good or not: it isn't. Part 2 is better than Part 3, thanks to a dash of mean-spirited gore and death scenes, but that's all it's got going for it. Part 3 has nothing.
To be sure: