Dan O’Grady (Shay Duffin), a drunken, middle-aged ex-patriot Irishman, returns to his small North Dakota hometown after attending his mother’s funeral in Ireland and tells his submissive, dough-faced wife (Pamela Mant) that he caught a leprechaun while he was in Ireland.
He proves his claim by showing her the bag of leprechaun gold he has smuggled into the United States.
What O’Grady doesn’t know is that the leprechaun (Warwick Davis) has hidden in his luggage and is determined to get his gold back.
When the leprechaun scares Mrs O’Grady into falling down the basement stairs and breaking her neck, her husband herds the imp into a crate by brandishing a four-leaf clover, the only weapon effective against a leprechaun.
O’Grady promptly has a stroke and is hauled off to the rest home raving about leprechauns, and the leprechaun is left trapped in the crate held prisoner by the four-leaf clover left lying on top.
Ten years later, Tory Redling (a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston) and her father move from Los Angeles to the house. Why they moved and why they would buy a run-down shack are never adequately explained, but they hire a trio of painters to help them fix the place up.
One of the painters is Nathan (Ken Olandt), and when Tory spots his sweaty biceps, she decides country life might not be so bad.
The other two painters are an annoying 11-year-old know-it-all named Alex (Robert Hy Gorman) and Ozzie (Mark Holton), a mentally handicapped young man, an even more offensive character than the O’Gradys.
When Ozzie brushes the clover from the top of the crate, the leprechaun leaps out and (this is true, people) threatens to polish Ozzie’s shoes. It seems the leprechaun is a shoemaker and can’t stand to be around shoes that aren’t looking their best . . .
For the rest of the movie, the leprechaun runs around searching for his lost gold. Without it, the leprechaun’s powers are limited, so instead of turning people into toads or things like that, he claws the faces of those who get in his way.
He kills one guy by jumping on him with a pogo stick while reciting, “This old man, he played one, he played pogo on his lungs” (I swear we’re not making any of this up!).
Some bad movies start with a hint of promise and fail to deliver. Leprechaun – written and directed by novice director Mark Jones – is uniformly atrocious from start to finish. Bizarrely, the film spawned a lengthy series of sequels.
Robert Hy Gorman