Leprechaun 3 (1995)

*. Reviewers were quick and by my rough reckoning universal in panning this third instalment in the undistinguished Leprechaun franchise. Indeed, they really put the critical boots to it. But I wonder what they could have been expecting. The first two movies hadn’t been good. This was the first of the series to get a direct-to-video release, which was a pretty clear heads-up that they didn’t think they had anything special to offer. So as not-good as Leprechaun 3 is I don’t see how anyone could have been disappointed enough to hate it.
*. The alternative title, Leprechaun 3: In Vegas, tells you all you need to know about the plot. Yes, once again the little fellow is after his gold and willing to do anything to get it. Except for some reason he doesn’t talk about his gold this time. Instead he keeps referring to his shillings. Did they actually mint gold shillings? I don’t think these are British coins he’s after, but I still wonder.
*. There are other changes in store as well. I mentioned in my notes on Leprechaun 2 how the leprechaun folklore is kind of vague, allowing for a lot of freestyle improvisations that may not have any basis in whatever record is being kept of these things. In this movie a handy CD-ROM (go ’90s!) lets us in on some relevant background like the fact that leprechauns really like potatoes, which is odd since potatoes an Old World crop and the leprechauns in these movies are either 600 or 1,000 years old. Then there’s a medallion introduced that the Leprechaun is afraid of for some unspecified reason (in the first film it had been a four-leaf clover). And finally it also turns out that if you get bitten by a leprechaun you turn into one. Or at least some people do. Good to know.
*. Given the quality of the first two movies I think your expectations should be kept low, as mine definitely were. And so I wasn’t disappointed by Leprechaun 3 at all. In most respects I think it’s better than Leprechaun 2. I say this for two main reasons, one general the other specific.
*. To begin with the general: a lot more is made in this movie of one of the coins being able to grant whoever has it a single wish. Since we’re in Vegas here that’s perfectly fitting, as this is a town that’s all about dreaming big, and then having those dreams blow up in one’s face. So time and again people get what they wish for only to have the rug pulled out from under their feet. Except for the final victim, whose wish never seems to have been granted at all. Either I missed something there or the writer/director had just grown tired of the idea.
*. The more particular point follows from this. There are a few decent kills that are, though crudely produced, at least imaginative. A sleazy casino owner is electrocuted by a sexbot that comes out of his TV. A woman who wants a makeover gets an extreme version leading to explosive results. A magician falls victim to one of his own tricks gone wrong.
*. This is all to the good, and I’d add that the cast are above average for this tier of entertainment as well. Warwick Davis considered this to be his favourite of the Leprechaun films and he does look like he’s having fun. Caroline Williams does a nice turn as the player with low self-esteem. Lee Armstrong is easy to watch bouncing around in her sexy magician’s-assistant costume. John Gatins and John DeMita are expendable, but manage to stay just this side of being awkward and annoying.
*. So it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I’d say it was quite a bit better. But of course it’s not a good movie. As you could say at pretty much any time with this franchise, this should have been the end. Alas, what happened in Vegas wasn’t going to stay in Vegas. Next stop: the final frontier!

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