Leprechaun 3 (1995)
Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Starring: Warwick Davis, John Gatins, Lee Armstrong, John DeMita, Michael Callan, Caroline Williams, Marcelo Tubert, Tom Dugan, Leigh-Allyn Baker, Richard Reicheg, Linda Shayne, Ian Gregory, Roger Hewlett, Terry Lee Crisp, Heidi Staley
(out of 4)
Known to speculate wildly on gold futures.
Warning: Some spoilers ahead.
Warwick Davis is back playing your favorite naughty Leprechaun (well, he’s the only one as far as I can tell) in the direct-to-video offering Leprechaun 3 from 1995. I wasn’t aware that Leprechaun 2 played in theaters but apparently it did (a measly 252 Screens, but still). The creators of the Leprechaun series – Trimark, I gather – finally realized that there is a whole video market out there comprised of people who are extremely easy to please and just want to kick back on the weekend with a can of PBR and watch some stupid cheesefest horror comedy. These viewers are the reason why Warwick ends up on a spaceship and then smokin a doobie in the bathroom with Ice-T. But I digress. Leprechaun 3 is another in a line of cheap, DIY movies that stem from a simple idea, probably written on a napkin in a late night diner: “Let’s have a killer leprechaun who takes revenge against those who steal his gold.” Then give the napkin to a B-movie director and turn him loose.
3000 Miles to Ireland
Leprechaun 3 transports Warwick Davis’ leprechaun character (no relation to the leprechaun of the previous movies) to Las Vegas, a move so obvious I wonder why they didn’t go with it in the very first film. In all of the world, where would a mean-spirited, greedy faerie monster with a pot of gold feel most at home? Exactly. Freed from a statue/prison in a pawn shop by its greedy Indian owner (no, Indians themselves are not greedy – everybody in this movie is greedy), Leppy bites off an ear and a toe (“I like Indian food! So spicy!”) before being warded off by a magical medallion (Leprechaun-Kryptonite?). (Incidentally, I liked how the Leprechaun/statue thing was pawned off by a crazy man missing some limbs). The pawn shop owner lasts longer than expected, but his avarice proves to be his undoing and Leppy is victorious, but not before losing one of his gold shillings. In the meantime, idiot kid Scott (John Gatins), driving through on his way to L.A. for college, picks up a hot, blonde magician’s assistant named Tammy (Lee Armstrong) who let’s him inside the Lucky Shamrock casino to take a look around. The bright lights and sounds of coins being spit out of slot machines gets to Scott’s head, and he cashes the check his parents gave him ($23,000 worth of tuition and rent) for chips because he’s feeling lucky. What Scott doesn’t realize is that the casino’s shady proprietor Mitch (Michael Callan) and shady roulette wheel operator Loretta (Caroline Williams, from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) have the table rigged, and the naive Scott soon finds himself across the street trying to pawn his watch for money.
Sir Mix-A-Lot still likes it.
Discovering the leprechaun’s missing shilling, Scott wishes he was back at the tables on a winning streak, and sure enough, he’s up $100,000. This puts him in the crosshairs of Mitch, Loretta, and resident magician Fazio (John DeMita) whose only real magic is his ability to bullshit others into giving him a job as a magician. The rest of Leprechaun 3 follows the shilling around as it moves from person to person through various methods, both intentional and accidental, with Warwick Davis hot on the trail, disposing of the coin’s handlers in funny/gory ways. Probably the best death is Caroline Williams’ demise – she wishes she was young and sexy again, then Lep magically exaggerates her womanly dimensions (including on-the-spot lip augmentation) until she explodes:
Your boobs are big. Your butt is small. But still you’re in for quite a fall.
Oh, well didn’t you hear? Bigger is good, but jumbo is dear. I’ll give ya boobs that’ll come out to here.
Now that was quite a load to have to explode. What a lovely lass, I had to blow up your ass but now I must hit the road!
Yeah, you get the idea. Leprechaun 3 increases the quotient of pain-inducing limericks, but throws a slight curveball by having Scott, infected with Leprechaun blood, turn into a (tall) green goblin himself. This results in facial/bodily changes, a sudden ability to do magic, a love of potatoes, and the occasional belting out of bad poetry in a funny Irish accent. Despite an amusing scene in a hospital (where Scott answers an inquiry about his health insurance with “Do ya take Green Cross?”) the expected face-off between two dueling leprechauns never really materializes. The best the movie can do is a quick melting of a pot of gold with a flame thrower; uh, it’s going to take more than a few seconds of exposure to a flame thrower to destroy an entire pot of gold – maybe they were made of chocolate?
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Thank God.
Technically speaking, Leprechaun 3 is inferior to the previous sequel (lower budget), and it’s not as clever as it could (and should) be. I still get more of a kick out of watching Leppy get drunk at a pub and then sober up at a coffee bar in Leprechaun 2 – his weaknesses being more personal in nature. Here, he’s just afraid of a magical medallion; otherwise he’s practically impervious to any physical damage. The movie also pulls its punches in a few spots – a victim’s inquiry “What was Judy Garland like?” goes unanswered, and Lee Armstrong (under a spell) threatens to expose her ample bosom but never follows up on it. You never believe for a second that she wants to bone Michael Callan (I don’t even think she kisses him, just smacks him around in an elevator). At least she’s a slightly better actress than Shevonne Durkin (but just slightly). As for lead goofball John Gatins (who has a bizarre resemblance to a young Jim Carrey), well he can’t act either, but his portrayal as a mutant leprechaun is amusing enough. The film is strictly formula B (green-colored), with no true inspiration save for three sequences: Caroline Williams’ death, a magic-show death by chainsaw (in which Warwick Davis celebrates as he shows the audience the victim split in half – a successful act in his mind), and finally a very surreal electrocution involving a nightmarish fantasy-girl/robot thing. Oh yeah, there’s also Heidi Staley’s breasts to look at (Penthouse Pet of the Month October 1994). Staley had no problem getting into the groove with Michael Callan; the girl’s a trooper.
I’d say I got as much out of Leprechaun 3 as I did the previous movie on a pure cheeseball level. Warwick Davis basically owns this role and I’m glad that he was able to milk it for all it was worth until those Harry Potter residuals came rolling in. Leprechaun 4 takes him to space (also directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith) and the final two movies bring him to the hood. By the way, the leprechaun as portrayed here seems to be a mix of the leprechaun from folklore as well as the mischievous far darrig, but those two creatures are nowhere near as malevolent. If there’s one scene that best represents the Leprechaun Series, it might be the one from Leprechaun 3 where a low-rent magician’s trick backfires, leaving a heap of green crap in his hand, leading to the one limerick that truly made me laugh:
A little token of my esteem. It is exactly what it seems. Made fresh daily at exactly 9:00. It comes from my shillelagh. You can keep it in a crock. Ha ha.
– Bill Gordon
He wished in the other hand.