Thursday, March 12, 2015

Leprechaun Retrospective: Leprechaun 2 (1994)

Leprechaun 2
Director: Rodman Flender
Starring:  Warwick Davis, Charlie Heath, Shevonne Durkin, Sandy Baron, Clint Howard, Kimmy Robertson
Rated:  R

I think the second movie could be the worst, only because it is highly forgettable. I can recall parts from all the other parts of this series, but I cannot remember a single thing from Leprechaun 2.

Well, Cullen, let me try and be your guide.  Leprechaun was a solid hit and really all Trimark Pictures had at the time, so it was a no brainer to do a follow up.  Plus, the first proved to be somewhat of a entry into the early 90s pop culture lexicon.  But, that mystique wore off really fast and this second one fizzled in its theatrical release.  While both original films look, feel, sound and probably taste like straight to video movies, they indeed both were released theatrically.  Both, made their money back and then some, but the writing was on the wall for this series after the sequel.  And one must applaud Trimark for seeing where the fortune would lie right away.
This film falls under the anthology sequel route.  Nothing but the Leprechaun himself is carried over, and not even he is virtually the same as last time aside from appearance.  Leprechaun 2 pretty much reboots the series right on the second entry.  It adds a bit of a mythology and takes the franchise in a different direction than the first film.  We get some new characters, and a new setting (Los Angeles).  While a departure from the first film, this one is more representative of what the series would be.  This is kind of the true starting point.  Like, I said in the previous article, you can easily skip the first movie.  The rest of the series pretty much does.  Nothing is ever carried over from it or referenced again.
Leprechaun 2 opens in the past.  And its that low budget fantasy film type setting that isn't at all convincing and looks cheap and disenchanting.  Its very reminiscent of our recently covered Mannequin 2 and another horror classic from that time, Troll 2.  Basically, you go to the woods and raid the local civic theatre dressing room for some medieval-looking-enough clothing and "Wah lah" - Lord Of The Rings!   Can you imagine if someone did a whole movie like this?  Scratch that, I imagine someone probably already has.  We also get some silly little bit about how the Leprechaun can take a wife if she sneezes 3 times without a "bless you".  From the start, we already know we're in trouble with this movie.
Our setting in this movie is much more playful and interesting than the first one.  Even though they don't soak up all they could with Hollywood, just the city in general is just much more interesting than the po'dunk country.  And the Leprechaun has a nice little lair to play in, even if it looks like an obvious set.  Thus also begins the Leprechaun and his "fish out of water" plotlines that pretty much make up the series.  While this title has a number, it could have easily been called Leprechaun In LA or Hollywood (Hell, Bride Of Leprechaun would have been best).  But, they wouldn't start exploiting that until the fourth film.
That's about the only credit I can give the film.  Aside from having a more interesting setting and some ideas that could easily top the first, this movie somehow doesn't.  Its really uninteresting and super boring for some reason.  Its got more comical Leprechaun deaths and moments, but none of this movie really adds up.  The film feels like a 15 minute idea stretched as thin as it could go to 90 minutes.  Nothing really matters here and the stakes never feel too high.  Sandy Baron is fun to watch eat up scenes and a Clint Howard and Kimmy Robertson cameo are fun, but its just really not near enough to make this one click.  Despite the goofiness, the film is still not ready to go all in with some zaniness.  
One last straw to grab at for a compliment on this one comes in the form of unintended comedy.  Shevonne Durkin pulls an all-timer in terms of bad/awkward performance.  She's not a very good actress, stumbles through just about every line and isn't even convincing looking through a window.  But, mannnnnn some of her line deliveries are absolutely hilariously atrocious.  I'm looking at "I can never stay mad at you".  And if someone could find a clip of that PLEASE post it in the comments!  There are many more moments, but her inability to perform winds up giving this film enough momentum to get me to the finish.  She also was the babysitter from Ghost In The Machine, too (If anyone remembers that one).  Shevonne is good looking though, so she has that going for her.  Its also known that she beat out Denise Richards for the part.  I wonder how this movie would have gone has the studio got who they wanted instead of the director?
The film has a bigger imagination and some more inventive kills than the first one, and that should be enough considering the Leprechaun series, but its surprisingly not enough.  Its highly forgettable.  I've seen this movie 3 maybe 4 times since 1994 (Hey, tell me when you see a Leprechaun marathon on TV when you're in college you don't stop for a bit) and I always sort of forget this one.  I remember the hearse Hollywood tour, but that's about it.  Its nowhere near good, and its not bad enough to be enjoyable.  The film just sort of sits there.  But, it truly is the one responsible for the direction with which we take the original canon.

NEXT TIME:  VEGA$ where there are pots of gold aplenty!

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