Syfy’s St. Patrick’s Day Marathon Celebrates 30 Years of ‘Leprechaun’
Happy (belated) 30th anniversary to the Leprechaun horror/comedy film franchise!
The movie that launched the series, 1993’s Leprechaun — led by Warwick Davis as the titular monster and also starring Jennifer Aniston in her first credited major role in a feature film — was released in theaters Jan. 8, 1993. Not very well received by critics, it became a surprise box-office hit to a degree and has remained a part of pop culture, certainly due in part to the presence of future star Aniston, and references to the film elsewhere, as when Mike Myers’ Wayne terrorizes Dana Carvey’s Garth with his impression of the Leprechaun in Wayne’s World 2.
But a lot of credit for Leprechaun’s enduring success as a cult classic also comes from Davis’ infusion of dark humor to his role, in what had originally been intended as a straight horror movie about an evil Leprechaun who goes on a killing spree in search of his pot of gold.
The humor and gore increased over the next several installments in the franchise — most of which were released straight to video following a disappointing theatrical performance by the first sequel in 1994 — as the homicidal Leprechaun did his stalking and slashing in increasingly wild scenarios, such as in “the hood” and even in space.
Davis starred as the Leprechaun in the first six films of the franchise, ending with 2003’s Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood. The actor made the decision to leave the role for his kids, explaining in a 2018 interview that “Since I finished the Leprechaun films I had kids, and I see the world through their eyes, and to be in a horror movie right now is probably not quite right.”
He did add, though, “I will wait until my son turns 18 and then I’ll do some horror again.”
After an 11-year hiatus following Back 2 tha Hood, Leprechaun: Origins (2014) brought the monster back, this time portrayed by Dylan Mark Postl (aka WWE wrestler Hornswaggle) in what is a more straight-up slasher film.
Following that came Leprechaun Returns in 2018. A direct sequel to the 1993 original, this film brings back more of the comedy to accompany its slashing. It follows college student Lila (Taylor Spreitler), who definitely does not have the luck of the Irish when the diabolical Leprechaun is released from the well in which her mother, Tory Redding (Aniston’s character in the first film), had trapped him 25 years earlier, and proceeds to terrorize her and her friends.
Some convenient exposition in this movie reveals that Tory Redding had died from cancer the previous year, in case anyone happened to be wondering if the now-mega-star Aniston would reprise the character. Davis is not in this one either; Linden Porco steps into the Leprechaun’s shoes this time. Mark Holton, who played Ozzie in Leprechaun, does return as that character here.
Leprechaun Returns is the most recent entry in the franchise to date. A planned crossover between Leprechaun and Candyman unfortunately did not materialize. But Mark Jones, writer/director of the original Leprechaun, told Den of Geek earlier this year, “I hear rumblings that they want to do another Leprechaun. Warwick and I have talked on and off about it. He likes the idea of a Leprechaun in the Wild West. I think they should do a TV series where the Leprechaun travels the country looking for his gold.”
Sounds cool to us, and since it was recently reported that Davis’ Disney+ series Willow, in which he reprises his title character from the 1988 film, will not be returning for a second season, maybe now is the time for the star’s Leprechaun return?
Whatever Leprechaun’s future might be, its past offers a lot of creepy and campy, horrific and humorous fun. While the official three-decade mark of the original movie was hit a few months ago, in January, it has always made sense to enjoy these cult favorites on St. Patrick’s Day.
Syfy has frequently aired them around the holiday, and this year, the network will be celebrating three decades of Leprechaun by airing all of the films (to date) in a 24-hour marathon this St. Paddy’s Day, Friday, March 17, beginning at 12am ET.
Syfy’s marathon is in somewhat of a reverse order, beginning with one of the more recent films. It ultimately concludes on the evening of March 17 with back-to-back airings of the the 1993 franchise-starter.
Syfy’s Leprechaun 30th Anniversary St. Patrick’s Day Marathon Schedule (Friday, March 17; Times ET/PT)
12am: Leprechaun: Origins (2014)
2am: Leprechaun 2 (1994)
4am: Leprechaun 3 (1995)
6am: Leprechaun Returns (2018)
8am: re-air of Leprechaun Origins
10am: Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)
12pm: Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)
2pm: Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)
4pm: re-air of Leprechaun 3
6pm: re-air of Leprechaun 2
8pm: Leprechaun (1993) (followed by an encore airing at 10pm)