Ranking The Leprechaun Franchise From Worst To Best

Sara: With our very first visit to Horror Hound taking up most of our attention this weekend, St. Patrick's Day plans were put on the back-burner as we spent the majority of it in the car, driving back to Detroit. However, us being the coven that loves the excuse to celebrate anything, we decided to try our hand at watching the Leprechaun movies! We managed to get through all of the Warwick Davis ones, so that's what we will be ranking today.

These films can be watched in any order, as they each tell a tale completely different than the others, which we found to be cool. They are very self aware in their B-Horror quality, so they are not trying to sell you something that they aren't. They are bad, and there are equal moments of good-bad and very, very, bad-bad. And, if you made the choice to binge them this past Sunday while the SyFy channel had a marathon, you had a St. Patrick's Day well spent.

WARNING: This post contains some spoilers for the Leprechaun movies 1-6.

6. Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996): 

Jeremy: We're not one's to balk at the idea of the admittedly cheesy concept of sending a popular horror icon into space once the creators seems to be running out of ideas. It can be argued even that films like Jason X (2001) or Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) were relatively successful for some people who are fans of their sci-fi and horror genres mixing. But despite coming into this fourth outing for the Leprechaun series with an open mind, our arms wide open for the inherent cheesiness that comes with the concept, this film ultimately fails to deliver in the worst way possible: It's far too often massively boring.

I just want to reiterate that we here at the Coven absolutely love B-Horror films that go the distance with their absurdity. We loved Blood Rage (1987) and Chopping Mall (1986), i'm a big fan of such films as Thankskilling (2008) and the Sleepaway Camp series, but Leprechaun 4 just doesn't feature any of the bad entertainment value that comes from these types of movies. Following the same general concept of every film in this franchise (people steal Leprechauns gold, Leprechaun wrecks havoc to get his gold back), this sci-fi extravaganza follows a platoon of space marines running into the Leprechaun during a mining operation. All the while, our titular fiend in green is attempting to woo the favor of a space princess Zarina, in order to oust her father from the throne of a very prosperous kingdom. What follows is a series of events that actually sound pretty entertaining: A lightsaber kill, a kill featuring Lep exploding from some guys dick, and some kind of scorpion/tarantula hybrid terrorizing our bands of heroes.

Sounds great doesn't it? Sure it does, but in all ways the execution of the few hilarious ideas that sound good on paper, fall flat in execution. I didn't laugh a single moment during watching this film. One such film that exists in a franchise that was surviving on laughs at this point, when the horror had taken a complete step back. I could sum this sour feeling best by saying: This wasn't even going to originally be a Leprechaun movie. They just kept the same script and setting, switching out an alien menace with the Leprechaun in a wondrous direct to video cash grab.

5. Leprechaun In The Hood (2000):

Sara: "Lep in the hood, comes to do no good!" Leprechaun In The Hood gets a point above space leprechaun only for that terrible rap song he performs at the end credits. The song itself is terrible, and it unfortunately gets stuck in your head, however, Warwick Davis looks like he is having a blast with his Zombie Fly Girls performing it, and it's completely adorable, in a creepy way.

This one ranked low on our list because the movie is an hour and a half long, but feels far longer. The leprechaun is hardly in it, with the film instead centering around three young aspiring rappers trying to win a contest in Las Vegas, but spending nearly the entire film just bumming around the neighborhood. In a turn of events, the leprechaun's objective isn't necessarily reclaiming his gold in this film, but a magical flute that aids musicians into performing well by hypnotizing the audience. Not the first, or the last, time a plot device was introduced in a Leprechaun movie, only to never appear again.

Unfortunately, this concept is shown about three or four times throughout the film (I will be honest, I lost count), and really just came off as an attempt to unnecessarily pad things out. Unlike space leprechaun, there are a few funny scenes, but they seem almost crammed in there to make up for the lack of cohesion during any particular scene. I was more than a few times left confused on why any of the main characters made any of the choices that they did. I did enjoy a couple ridiculous tidbits such as the Leprechaun being almost force-fed soup by a blind, old lady, Ice T pulling a full-sized baseball bat out of his 1970's afro, and the shortest cameo in the history of film in the form of none other than Coolio. Seriously, if you blink at the wrong moment, you'll miss him.

4. Leprechaun 2 (1994):

Jeremy: I'd love to say that things start to get massively better in terms of quality for these movies, but c'mon, we're talking about the Leprechaun films here. That wasn't a sentiment I shared before binging this series, in fact I actually remember Leprechaun 2 being pretty alright, at least better than the original, which I remember hating upon first watch. But no, Leprechaun 2, as I can best compare it to, is the Casper: A Spirited Beginning (1997) to the original Cristina Ricci classic, Casper (1995). Like a truly bad direct to video sequel, with worse acting, worse effects, and little care for what was set up in its predecessor, Lep 2 is all over the place. We find ourselves in Los Angeles where, as in Lep 4, Warwick Davis is searching for his bride, a descendant of a past conquest of his from a thousand years earlier.

Speaking on that time difference, that's where i'd like to bring up a couple things I did like about this film. I was a big fan of the middle ages setting of the opening ten minutes, and I remember thinking to myself that this would have been a fantastic story to tell. Instead, we get an incredibly 90's looking pair of hero and heroine going through their teenage love story, while operating a haunted hoax of a tour of the Los Angeles area with a perpetually drunk old man. Some of the kills in this one were not bad, I particularly liked a certain asshole meeting his end in the form of a giant whirling fan, as well as the expanding stomach of gold by the aforementioned old man. But outside of that we get a lot of scenes of heroine what's her name running around pretty shitty looking cave-like settings and generally giving the worst acting performance of the entire series (I'm not kidding), while hero what's his name shows up to every scene too late until finally stumbling upon where he needs to go.

Like with the other Leprechaun movies, another plot device unique to only one movie is introduced in form of: The Leprechaun's weakness is wrought iron! Could be worse, but nothing special. Which I guess is something you could say for this movie as a whole.

3. Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood (2003):

Sara: Back 2 Tha Hood ranked higher for two reasons: some decent jokes/kill scenes, and a more diverse cast (Leprechaun In The Hood was a complete sausage fest). Back 2 Tha Hood centers around two besties trying to figure out better lives for themselves, while still trying to enjoy their youth. The backstory is kept short and sweet, and soon enough the two ladies stumble upon a small chest of coins at the end of a rainbow, respectively. Soon enough the girls and their two guys are enjoying what the gold has to offer by getting new vehicles, clothes, and throwing parties. Enter Leprechaun, because his trademark isn't losing his gold, oh no. It's getting drunk and stoned.

The kill scenes are set up a bit more slasher-style in this flick, with the leprechaun sneaking into one of the female leads house while she is there, and my personal favorite scene; a bit of butchery in the beauty parlor. The cat-and-mouse chase that takes up the bulk of the finale is where most of the laughs came from for me (he gets hit by a car, and I almost died), pretty much any scene with him running around, laughing manically was the best, even if nothing else was being accomplished. More than once we mentioned that Warwick Davis had way too much filming these, and Back 2 Tha Hood was proof.

2. Leprechaun (1993):

Jeremy: And here we are at the one that started it all, and unlike many lists i've scoured throughout the internet, this one was not our favorite of the Warwick Davis Leprechaun films. As I mentioned earlier, this was a film I found to be pretty shitty the first time I saw it so many years ago. It may have been through heightened expectations that, at some point, this series would have had to have had at least one good film or two for there to be so many sequels, right? Now having watched it for the third time so many years later, I can say that i've definitely softened on my disdain for this film. But even then, I still have to leave this disclaimer for anyone who has made it this far into our list: None of the Leprechaun films are great pieces of cinema, or even fantastic as horror films. There are just a few that are entertaining enough to call decent. And Jennifer Aniston's first film, the debut of Warwick Davis as the Leprechaun, is just that: A decent movie.

Leprechaun 93 features a good blend of horror and comedy, much like Evil Dead II (1987) before it. In it we find an unlikely group of heroes, three painters for hire, led by Aniston, as they are hunted down by a Leprechaun in search for his gold. There's not a whole lot of kills here, but the film did feature one of my favorite in the series featuring a pogo stick and a punctured lung. While the performances in these films are never Oscar worthy, I did find the main cast of characters to be a step above the usual fare. And while Warwick Davis is still in his early phase of developing this character into what it would later become, I appreciated that almost immediately he knew what direction he wanted to take with his portrayal of the leprechaun.

Most importantly, what elevates this film to this high on the list is its pacing. Things never seem to drag for me like every other film before this one would. The leprechaun was revealed from the beginning, and every scene afterwards was in service of moving to the next great set piece. Overall, a pretty good time if you're looking for something a little less serious in your horror.

1. Leprechaun 3 (1995): 

Sara: And the winner is... Leprechaun 3! This one really surprised both of us because after watching the first two which went from bad to worse, we did not expect much. Leprechaun 3 takes place in Las Vegas, which is the perfect setting for a gold-loving terrorizer. The plot is very simple, focusing on a very naive young college student and his mishaps in a casino. The leprechaun shows up because only one of his coins is stolen in this scenario, but the key in this tale is that the holder of the coin gets unlimited wishes granted by the leprechaun. As the coin gets passed around from character to character, things escalate quickly.

I think what really made this film our favorite was the cast of Caroline Williams, who you creeps may recognize as "Stretch" from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986). She plays a delightfully obnoxious character, and because we didn't bother to look up the plot of any of the films before watching them, she was a pleasant surprise. Although Leprechaun 3 leans more towards comedy than horror, there are some decent kill scenes. Most notably a certain character exploding, and another being cut in half in front of a live audience. Another factor that made this film more enjoyable than the rest, was the twist of one of the main characters turning into a leprechaun. Not entirely convincing, however, equal parts hilarious and disgusting. This film honestly just did a decent job of utilizing its surroundings, even if it fell victim to slapping together each scene haphazardly, which is sadly just the theme of this franchise. Still, these flicks are great if you are just in the mood to binge something light and kinda stupid, but in a fun way.

Jeremy: But we want to know what you thought about the Leprechaun films! While we didn't include Origins, or the recent Leprechaun Returns, we'd love to hear how you place them too up against the Warwick Davis films. Just drop us a comment below, or on any of our other social media accounts. We'll once again be finding ourselves at Detroit's Marche Du Nain Rouge parade this weekend for brews and plenty of red-tinged devilish goodness. But until then, keep it creepy!