Halloween Endurance Test: Leprechaun 3 (1995)
Leprechaun 3 opens with a one-armed man bringing a Leprechaun statue into a pawn shop. The third time really is a charm! And from such humble beginnings great things are built. We learn a number of important facts in the pawn shop. The Leprechaun (Warwick Davis) is still obsessed with shoes. He’s still dropping his all-important gold pieces all around town; causing this misadventure. He’s apparently lost most of his magical powers between films, relying more on (miniature) brute strength here. And, whereas in Leprechaun 2 holding onto his gold coin would protect you, now there’s a medallion that causes him to spit up green foam.
Finally, three films in, the studios have decided that it would work best to establish the Leprechaun’s ground rules before the action starts!
Shockingly, that’s not the only thing they got right. Leprechaun 3’s script is also well handled; building an engaging story from the beginning that doesn’t even involve the Leprechaun! You’re actually interested in the outcome before the Leprechaun arrives to mess everything up. Having a story that’s compelling even before the antagonist arrives is the definition of good writing. Throw a broke amputee on top of the mix and it practically has Oscar written all over it!
(Take care, gentle readers, and enjoy it now, because this will be the only time our filmmakers get it right…)
The plot has Scott (John Gatins), a student, giving a lift to Tammy (Lee Armstrong), a magician’s assistant. Scott loses his $23,000 college tuition sneaking into a casino, but happens upon the Leprechaun’s missing shilling. A convenient computer program informs Scott that each shilling allows him one wish, and he naturally asks for a win streak.
All this does is give the Leprechaun a chance to invade the casino. Which is where the magic happens. A photo op with Elvis. Turning a belligerent gambler into a human slot machine. Starring in Leprechaun-themed lawyer/televangelist/psychic commercials.
For good measure, director Brian Trenchard-Smith even horns in a reference to the first movie when he pauses on a wheelchair bound old lady! Just a slight pause, long enough for fans to recall the Leprechaun’s famous wheelchair racing scene. (Not to be outdone, Trenchard-Smith has the Leprechaun ride a hospital gurney in this installment.)
It’s interesting to note that it’s actually the Leprechaun’s shillings, and not the Leprechaun himself, that causes people’s wishes to backfire. Lecherous casino owner Mitch (Michael Callan) learns the hard way when he wishes for Tammy to love him. She does, but he soon learns that she’s also into the rough stuff. After Tammy slams him into the elevator a few times, he’s no longer excited for her to “heat things up.”
A forlorn Mitch later dies while having sex with a robot hooker. Yes, a robot hooker! Is it any wonder that this is my favorite Leprechaun film?
One complication to the Leprechaun mythos is the inclusion of Leprechaun-itis. Now if you are bitten by the Leprechaun, you slowly start turning into one. Unfortunately you don’t shrink, but you do get magic powers, you will have to speak in rhyme, and you will grow tons of facial hair, a la the X-Men’s Wolverine.
We also learn that the Leprechaun can only be defeated by destroying his gold. Gold which is strangely vulnerable to flamethrowers. (Don’t ask.) You’d imagine the gold coins would just melt into a block of gold, but instead they disappear as the Leprechaun is burnt to a crisp. Ending the film with Tammy and Scott leaving Vegas and promising never to use the last remaining gold coin.
—WANT MORE LEPRECHAUN?—