This is the shameless, absurd piece of shit movie that I have been waiting for this series to produce. With Leprechaun 4: In Space, the filmmakers finally said, “fuck it,” and jettisoned everything that hindered this substandard horror franchise. By that, I mean Earth. The first three flicks were somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but they never lived up, or down, to their potential. This film is the turning point.
Like its predecessor, Leprechaun 4 went straight to video. That was a wise decision. The opening shot — in SPACE! — has some of the worst CGI a viewer is likely to see anywhere, and it sets the tone for the rest of the film. Realism was not within the grasp of the budget, and the result would not have been acceptable for a theatrical release. That also means director Brian Trenchard-Smith was freed from the shackles of even middling expectations.
There’s little setup to this flick, and, like the others in the series, no plot connection to the other films. Warwick Davis returns to play the leprechaun, although it’s more accurate to say he returns to play ‘a’ leprechaun. The character has never had a name, has the thinnest of backstories, and has always been placed in a standalone story.
That story, from Dennis A. Pratt, sees a squad of space marines dispatched to a planet to rid a mine of an unknown alien menace. That menace turns out to be the leprechaun.
He’s been hanging out in these mines, which look like the kind of underground set that would be featured in the original Star Trek series, trying to woo a spoiled princess (Rebecca Carlton) into matrimony. She’s a hottie, and is unimpressed with the leprechaun’s advances, until she learns what kind of monetary riches he has to offer.
Soon after the marines arrive, the leprechaun is blown up in gooey fashion, and the princess is rescued. But, not before he infects one of the marines and enables his resurrection through, I shit you not, a stream of urine.
Now, it’s back up to the spaceship, where we viewers become much more familiar with the squad of future jarheads.
They are led by Sergeant Hooker (Tim Colceri, who is finally given the marine sergeant role he lost to R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket), who has a chrome plate covering half of his skull. Hooker is also the most interesting of the characters, as Colceri was very much onboard with the stupid and comedic aspects of the plot. He’s so fit for the role that he overshadows most of the others, turning their characters into anonymous dreck.
That dreck includes Books (Brent Jasmer), the meaty hunk of the film; Dr. Tina Reeves (Jessica Collins), hottie #2, and this flick’s final girl; Sticks (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.), whose character was so likable he makes it to the end on charm alone; and Dolores (Debbe Dunning), hottie #3, who also happens to be the ass-kicking hottie, à la Vasquez in Aliens. In fact, many characters here have an analog in Aliens, although Sergeant Hooker occupies his own, humorous, space.
There is one final player of note, and that is Guy Siner as Dr. Mittenhand, a scientist who is searching for a way to regenerate human flesh. He is in desperate need of such treatment, as a lab accident left Mittenhand’s body almost obliterated. All that is left is his head, right arm, and both shoulders, mounted atop a cabinet on wheels, kind of like Captain Pike from The Menagerie. His internal organs now consist of little more than a heart in a jar.
That sounds pretty awful, and were this real life, it would be. Mittenhand, however, is not a character to be taken seriously. He’s the film’s resident mad scientist, with exaggerated German accent to boot.
Up to this point, I’ve barely mentioned the leprechaun. That’s because as far as he is concerned, there really isn’t anything new. He wants his gold and his would-be bride, and he cuts a swath through the folks on the spaceship in order to get it. It’s all the other stuff, from the cheap sets and costumes, the bargain basement effects, the hammy dialogue from the supporting cast, that makes this a more watchable film than the earlier Leprechaun flicks. It’s amazing how much more entertaining it is to take the exact same character from those films and put him in one of the shittiest space flicks ever made.
Lest I heap too much praise on this dog, I need to make clear that this movie stinks. It’s bad in a way that only a shitty movie fan could love. And, despite a running time of 95 minutes, could have withstood some cutting. Trenchard-Smith and company could have afforded to be ruthless with said cuts, bringing the flick down to 75 minutes or so. After all, this went straight to video. It didn’t need theatrical length, but that’s what we got.
This stupid flick should fall way down the Watchability Index, but it is saved by some entertaining characters, and total self-awareness. The most watchable of the Leprechaun flicks so far, Leprechaun 4: In Space displaces Escape Plan: The Extractors at #198. Check it out.