An evil leprechaun travels from Ireland to California in search of his stolen pot of gold. After being locked in a cellar for ten years, he escapes and murders various people to get his treasure back.
The foundation of a franchise that – like the Critters, Wishmaster and Witchcraft films – has mostly bypassed theatrical release but found space on rental racks and cable television. It’s in the history books as the film debut of Jennifer Aniston, who doesn’t exactly show star potential as a typical dim-bulb heroine who snarls dialogue like ‘Nathan, that was no fucking bear!’
Warwick Davis, erstwhile Ewok and Willow, is under a rubbery make-up job, and dressed in buckled shoes and oversized hat. The mini-monster cracks wise or whimsical in a slippery Orish accent (‘try as they will, and try as they might, who steals me gold won't live through the night’) as he pursues Friday the 13th-style characterless victims around a rural nowhere. It’s fatally uncertain of its intent, veering between campy would-be comedy, with the leprechaun speeding in a kiddie car, and unpleasant sadism, as a lovable retarded man (Mark Holton) is gruesomely slashed about the face.
Writer-director Mark Jones invents his own mythology, advancing the ludicrous notion that leprechauns are as affected by four-leaf clover like vampires are by crucifixes. It’s less distinctive than many similar quickies produced by Charles Band with miniature menaces (the Puppet Master films, Demonic Toys, The Creeps, etc). Jones tried the whole thing again in the unrelated Rumpelstiltskin, with Max Grodenchik in gnome make-up, but Davis returned in a string of follow-ups: Leprechaun 2 (a ‘Bride of Leprechaun’ effort marketed in the UK as One Wedding and Lots of Funerals), Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun 4: In Space, Leprechaun in the Hood (with Ice-T and Coolio) and Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood.
Lame and a little disturbing at times with the leprachaun's violent tendencies.