Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A YEAR OF SLASHERS: Leprechaun 2 (1994)

For reasons that I have no good explanation for, “Leprechaun” got a sequel. The original did not move a lot of movie tickets but I guess it found success somewhere because Vidmark greenlit a part two. Maybe they did learn some lessons from the first one. “Leprechaun 2” ejects everything from the first movie except for Warwick Davis’ diminutive demon. The character has an entirely different mythology, down to a completely different weakness and motivation. All of the original human cast is ejected. This would set the precedence for the entire series, with each “Leprechaun” film more-or-less playing out in its own continuity. For part two, anyway, this would work. “Leprechaun 2” is far breezier than the original with slightly less-dumb tone and a more amusing screenplay.

A thousand years ago, a horny Leprechaun tricked a human into being his slave. As part of their agreement, he gets to marry the guy’s daughter after she sneezes three times. This goes awry, forcing the Leprechaun to wait another 1000 years for some reason. Now rolling around in modern day LA, the Lep finds the descendant of his bride and attempts to kidnap her. Her boyfriend has different plans. His attempt to stop the furious fairy leads to him being suspected of murder. As this is also St. Patrick’s Day, the tiny terror gets into some festive themed mayhem.

Most importantly, “Leprechaun 2” is much funnier than the original. Warwick Davis has a better grasp on the Leprechaun character. The imp’s trademark rhymes have a bigger presence this time around. They are intermittently amusing. The movie gets some decent jokes out of contrasting the killer Leprechaun with the usual St. Patrick Days antics. Leppy sneaks into a bar full of little people (including Tony Cox) and attempts to bargain with the film’s hero. Instead, he’s tricked into a drinking contest, which doesn’t end well for the little guy. Afterwards, he’s seen in a coffee shop, trying to java away the hangover. Funny! “Leprechaun 2” has the villain in a go-cart again but this time it actually makes since. A subplot about the hero’s celebrity tour being really shitty is genuinely amusing, as are the bit about the Leprechaun’s inescapable underground lair. It’s not sophisticated, obviously, but “Leprechaun 2” integrates humor into its story much better than the first film did.

A clearer grasp on tone also helps the movie’s horror elements. The movie never attempts scares or thrills. Why would it? However, the gore scene are more elaborated and better executed. The Leprechaun’s inconsistently magical abilities trick a sleazebag into making out with a lawnmower. (This scene also provides the movie some gratuitous T&A.) A snooty espresso salesman gets stabbed with forks and has his skin boiled with steam. An overzealous security guard is run over with the go-cart, like a miniature “Death Race 2000.” The Leprechaun’s pot of gold is teleported into somebody’s stomach, the most gruesome gag in the film. Finally, the Leprechaun’s demise is an immensely satisfying explosion. There’s telephone cord strangulation and even an undead ghoul. “Leprechaun 2” seems to know its audience a little better.

The most obvious improvement is the cast. The obnoxious characters of the first are ditched for a more likable lot. Charlie Heath as Cody is actually sort of charming, somewhere between watching out for his friends and just trying to make a buck. He has solid chemistry with Shevonne Durkin, who is cute as a button. Sandy Baron as Morty actually does a decent bit of acting as Morty, as the guy is an alcoholic with a floundering business, always trying to trick people into investing in his crazy schemes. I was sort of sad that he got the axe. Lastly, Clint Howard and Kimmy Robertson of “Twin Peaks” fame get cameos as two of the tourists scammed into the tour. Both are appealing in their own way. I would have liked to have seen the actors tangle with the Leprechaun.

I suppose it’s only slightly less stupid than the original. However, “Leprechaun 2” features more splatter, more laughs, and a better cast. These are low bars to clear but what else do you expect? It’s the film the first should have been, even incorporating a little more Irish flavor into the proceedings. Undiscerning horror fans who really want to see a horror/comedy about a killer leprechaun might be advised to seek this one out. [7/10]

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