Leprechaun 3

Brian Trenchard-Smith has directed some low budget genre cult films I actually quite enjoy--Dead End Drive-in, Turkey Shoot, Night of the Demons 2, BMX Bandits--but then he found the Leprechaun series...

Leprechaun in Vegas this go-around (Trenchard-Smith would direct Lil Green in Space, too!), as he's after a lost shilling, awakening from being a sculpture when an Indian pawn shop owner named Gupta pulls away from around his neck a medallion (with this red jewel in its center). The medallion seems to work as Lep's kryptonite, hurting him at the slightest touch. He loses a shilling to Gupta, and this young man just passing through on his way to college in Cali finds it after losing his school funds by gambling them away, stopping by the pawn shop to sell a watch. Lep isn't able to secure it (he finally suckers Gupta to put away the medallion away, seizing upon him, eventually strangling him with a cord), so he heads into Vegas to find the shilling, which gives those who possess one wish. Of course, Lep uses their wish against them once the shilling is in someone else's possession.

This is bird-brained hokum that doesn’t remotely pretend to be anything more than a comic farce that further takes the Leprechaun series away from horror and almost exclusively into supernatural, special-effects camp. I don’t think anyone watching the Leprechaun films, especially after this, the second sequel, can seriously judge them with any serious critique, abandoning the notion of quality creature feature horror, accepting that Warwick Davis’ character and the subject matter (and cringe-inducing comic zingers that function as his speech) involving him belong to something altogether ludicrous and absurd. All this said, this third film was a bit more palatable to me as it has a couple amusing sight gags and a fun setting for Lep to run around. This is the very definition of tongue-in-cheek…in fact; this puts both fingers in its ears and shakes its tongue out at you. Davis seems to delight in this character and his enthusiasm helps a lot. He knows these films can’t be taken with a grain of salt. I guess knowing that is freeing, allowing him to go with it.

This film even goes one step further by having John Gatins, as the kid who finds the shilling in the pawn shop, bitten by Lep and green blood from the leprechaun splashing on his wound. This infected wound starts to gradually transform Gatins into a human form of Lep, with him even speaking similarly, as campy cracking-wise (if you can use wise with the zingers that fill up the screenplay and flow excitedly from Davis’ grinning mug) becomes a norm from two different characters, not just the lead. Gatins stops to help a magician’s assistant (Lee Armstrong) when her car breaks down. He gives her a lift to the casino, decides to stay, blows his tuition money, heads to the pawn shop to drop his watch for a little bit of cash, take the shilling with him in the hopes of it helping him out of his slump, and the wish on this shilling grants Gatins a huge payoff. Mitch (Michael Callan), the owner of the casino, The Shamrock (yeah), sees that Scotty (Gatins) is winning at the table and warns employee, Loretta (Caroline Williams of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 & Stepfather 2), to see his run of luck stops. Eventually he shuts down the table, while Loretta (and magician, Fazio (John DeMita) eyes the lucky shilling Scotty possesses. Mitch grabs away the coin from Loretta, wishing to have Armstrong’s Tammy throw herself at him…she is reduced to a bubble-headed bimbo urging Mitch to go to his room for sexual playtime! Loretta eventually has access to the coin and wishes to be sexy, while Fazio wants to have his magic show delight a big audience. Each gets their wish, but then Lep enters the scene and makes them pay for using his coin to benefit themselves. In taking the coin, Loretta ruined Mitch’s chances of bedding Tammy. However, Lep (when not creating advertisements on the Telly) recreates a sexual dynamo to exit the television and show Mitch a minor good time before turning into a robot (!), with electrocution a result. It goes off the deep end like that. Loretta getting a sexy body before Lep causes her ass, boobs, and lips to balloon before exploding all over the place…again, the film goes off the deep end like that! Fazio’s grisly demise--being sawed in half by a delighted Davis--is probably the most “cliché” of the four Lep murders.

With Lep doing an Elvis impersonation with an Elvis impersonator, taking his walking club to Vegas mafia thugs, causing one mafia thug to spit out coins like a slot machine, biting off Gupta’s toe and ear, causing a Cupid statue to fire an arrow in Gupta’s arm, and spiriting through casinos and the strip looking for his shilling while proclaiming Vegas as “his kind of town”; Leprechaun 3 knows exactly what it is and never wavers from that. This tells you it is made-for-video cheesy genre fare not intended for anyone but those looking for nonsense that is undemanding and tacky. If you critique this with any scrutiny, Leprechaun 3 will be chum in the water, fit to devour. It was made on the quick, with a budget limited to the confines of rental shelf fodder, and aims low. Admittedly, I wasn’t altogether bored or in pain while watching it, as opposed to the Lep in Space/Hood films which I found insufferable. Trenchard-Smith has been around for a while, prolific in that he’s directed all types of genre. From exploitation to softcore to family fare even; Trenchard-Smith hasn’t met a genre he found intimidating. The Leprechaun series acquired his services twice, so he seemed to enjoy the character and Davis went on record as enjoying working for him. I would have to say that this film is probably my favorite of the series, but would I consider this an endorsement? Yeah, no. Gatins, it must said, is actually quite impressive when mimicking Warwick Davis' Leprechaun as he undergoes his transformation. The make-up effects for this transformation are quite hideous but rather C-budget considering the shoot was like twelve days. The impressions themselves by Gatins could be seen as a highlight, I reckon. Armstrong, as Gatins' love interest, is appealing enough. She was only in three movies and this was perhaps the final straw...Not bad to gaze upon, though.