Saturday, March 16, 2013

Leprechaun 4: In Space

After finally seeing a Leprechaun movie that I can claim I legitimately enjoyed, Leprechaun 3, I was hoping that I’d be able to say the same for the overly ridiculous premise of Leprechaun 4: In Space. Unfortunately, while not a complete bust, I was a little let down.

In this fourth installment of the now completely direct-to-video franchise, we find the Leprechaun (Warwick Davis) attempting to woo an alien princess (Rebekah Carlton) into marriage so he may assume the throne on her home planet. A squad of space marines are sent in to rescue her and inadvertently unleash the wrath of the devilish imp on their own spaceship.
A friend once told me that “if you want to completely kill a franchise, set a sequel in outer space”. While I don’t completely agree with him since I do enjoy Jason X on a guilty pleasure level, I can say that in this case his words ring true. The funny thing is that while the outer space aspect used here is laughable, it inspired many of the gags and situations in other space bound horror films like the aforementioned Jason X, Hellraiser: Bloodline and even Event Horizon.

Returning director Brian Trenchard-Smith tries to do what he can with a severely limited budget, but he’s fighting a losing battle due to the overblown script which features a lot of concepts that are way past the monetary means at his disposal. There’s not only the Leprechaun on the loose in space aspect that requires lots of special effects for all the bizarro death scenes, but there is also a spider/human hybrid creature and a scene where the Leprechaun grows to be 40-feet tall. None of it is pulled off in a convincing way. Not even in a cheesy way. It all just looks horribly bad.
I was excited to see what kind of kills this movie would feature now that the ridiculousness factor of being in space had been added. Sadly they are still of the lame variety. One guy is killed with a lightsaber (?!), one’s head is flattened to a pancake with a large dish, a soldier is dissolved by acid and another is dropped from a ledge. I was not impressed since they all happen in overly comical ways, but aren’t funny at all a la Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. The worst being when the Leprechaun is reborn by emerging from the penis of a horny soldier who pissed on his charred remains during the opening rescue scene. So dumb.

There are some funny moments, like when Master Sargent  Hooker (played totally over the top by Tim Colceri), who is actually a cyborg, is reprogrammed by the Leprechaun to think he’s a drag queen. He runs around the sets in a dress while alternating between talking like RuPaul and R. Lee Ermey. I giggled a few times during these scenes due to the sheer ludicrousness of it all.
Acting, which is never a high point in these films, is crap all around. Miguel Nunez, Jr. is no stranger to horror flicks, having starred in Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning, The Return of the Living Dead and Carnosaur 2, and became a moderately well-known comedic character actor in the 90s and 2000s. He gets a few good lines but is lost in the crowd most of the time. The champ, once again, is Warwick Davis as the title character. His glee of being able to play this character once more is apparent in every scene, and while he doesn’t have very many limerick-style lines the dialogue he’s given made me laugh out loud more than once (“As Shakespeare once said… shit happens!”, “Share. Now there’s a word that lies crooked upon me. The very sound of it sends my teeth to grate and conjures up pictures of me gold being carted off to pay for feminine pleasures.” and when talking about his future queen “I wonder if her father will pay for the wedding… AND the funeral!”). The parts of this movie that are the most enjoyable usually involve him.

Special effects… non-existent. The CGI is of the early generation homebrew variety you’d expect to see in some of the first Star Wars fan films. The make-up and practical effects are just as bad with the Leprechaun’s look being the best of the bunch. The whole project reeks of a rushed and overly cheap production which ruins a lot of the moments that could have been enjoyable (the Mittenhand spider monster).
This isn’t my favorite of the films in this series. While it is better than the first two films by a wide margin it’s still not very good.  There are moments that are funny, some parts are borderline brilliant. Most of the time it’s just poop. I will recommend that fans of cheesy horror comedies watch this at least once. It could have been better if a little more time and money was invested into it, but that wasn’t the case. With two more films in this series looming in the distance I am starting to worry that I will be on the receiving end of a worthless time suck from which I will not return.

2 out of 5

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