Leprechaun 2

Discussion in 'High Def' started by rhett, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. rhett

    rhett Administrator

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG] Reviewer: Rhett
    Review Date: Sunday, October 26, 2014

    Format: Blu-ray
    Released by: Lionsgate
    Release date: September 30, 2014
    MSRP: $39.97
    Region A
    Progressive Scan
    Codec: AVC, 1080p
    Widescreen 1.78 | 16x9: Yes
    1994



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    Leprechaun went through development hell with a contentious relationship between Director Mark Jones and the Trimark brass, culminating in studio-mandated reshoots and a lot of editing excision. Despite Trimark’s best efforts to virtually destroy the picture, it ended up being a theatrical success in 1993, and soon after a video hit that’d become somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon with its “oh I am the Leprechaun!” bit in the blockbuster-ish Wayne’s World 2 that same year. Trimark never really understood the appeal or the formula of the first film, but with pop culture taking the franchise by storm, they were determined to create a formula, and to create one quick. Thus came Leprechaun 2 a scant one year later, with a new director and a new direction, with aspirations of growing the fanbase the same way Freddy Krueger grew in box office stature for three straight pictures after the first to become the icon he is today. The Lep was going Hollywood, literally, uprooting him from North Dakota(!) to South Cali for this first sequel. Did the Leprechaun strike gold? Let’s find out.


    The Story

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    Every major horror character has some esoteric rule. In Candyman, you can’t say his name five times into a mirror. In The Wolf Man a full moon brings out his vengeance. In A Nightmare on Elm Street you couldn’t fall asleep. In Leprechaun 2? You can’t sneeze. Well, okay then. It’s “Once upon a time” in Ireland (actually 994), and that rascally little leprechaun (the irreplaceable Warwick Davis) is celebrating his one thousandth birthday by choosing his first bride. He’s so ecstatic about the proposition of being wed that he even agrees to free his slave, William O’Day (James Lancaster), once he secures his maiden. He settles on a woman, and through his magic he gets her to fulfill the golden Leprechaun rule of sneezing three times before being forced into lifelong matrimony (what, you’ve never heard of that?). His plan is foiled though, when O’Day blesses the sneezing bride to be. You see, she was O’Day’s daughter, and the thought of that ghastly little beast copulating with her for eternity was worse even than sacrificing his own life. The leprechaun murders O’Day for his daughter to discover, and vows that in one thousand years’ time he’d be back to christen a new bride from the O’Day lineage.

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    We jump forward a thousand years to 1994. But rather than Ireland we’re now in Los Angeles, where the leprechaun has hiding out in an old Irish tree that was gifted to the gravesite of magician Harry Houdini (you can’t make that shit up). It’s there that he’s cultivated quite the catacomb for his new bride to be. If you thought a dog pissing on Freddy’s ashes was a weird way to bring him back into the fold in The Dream Master, well, in this one it’s an old bottle of Canadian Whiskey from a homeless guy that finally coerces the charmed creature from his cavern. He rips out the drifter’s gold tooth, and then takes the gold ring (finger and all) from a talent agent who approaches him on the street thinking he’s some kind of performer. The leprechaun is ready to perform nuptials though, with Bridget Callum (Shevonne Durkin, Ghost in the Machine), girlfriend to some deadbeat teenager, Cody Ingalls (Charlie Heath) who makes a living doing a haunted tour down the Hollywood strip for his con artist uncle Morty (Sandy Baron). The Lep gets Bridget to sneeze thrice, putting Cody’s rescue efforts on ice, but in the process he loses a coin of gold, before retreating to his humble abode, and to retrieve it he will no longer play nice.

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    In trying to retrieve his coin the Leprechaun gets a little distracted, getting sloshed at a St. Patrick’s Day drinking contest with Morty and then attacking a waiter for trying to steal his gold after asking for payment for some sobering coffee. He also has time to ride in his custom go-kart (oddly one of the only things they decided to carry over from the first film), killing an officer. Morty ends up, uh, swallowing his pride (gut for punishment?) upon his next encounter with the leprechaun, leaving Cody, rendered invisible to the leprechaun’s attacks because of his possession of the gold coin, alone to fight for Bridget’s love. Eventually the love triangle find themselves in the leprechaun’s rooted lair, where he finally fells the leprechaun with the powers of milk chocolate. Hey, he’s in LA, the leprechaun may as well have some pomp lactose allergy.

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    I think if there’s one thing that binds the Leprechaun films together, it’s the always curious story decisions that define each film. Most franchises, especially those long enough to have a body that you need to count on more than one hand, end up early on creating a set of rules and tropes that usually govern the sequels. Even the wilder entries in the big franchises, like Halloween 6 or Jason X, are still generally in continuity with the other films and follow similar tried and true elements. In Leprechaun’s case, Leprechaun 2 would prove to set the continuity-be-damned, everything-goes approach that would compose the series. It’s a different beast than Leprechaun, but unlike the batty A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, this is less a blip in the radar that would be righted by the third film and more a representation of how the series would go in any direction to try and entertain. The sequels will take the leprechaun to Vegas, space, the hood and Hollywood, and as random as artifacts in each new episode of Friday the 13th: The Series, each one plays out in its own self-contained, sitcom-like story. This one takes us from olde Ireland to modern Los Angeles with a disregard for anything from the first picture, and the rest of the films in the franchise would follow suit. Each film would be in service of some higher concept appealing to a different demographic of (well, at least male of some sort) viewers, be it sci-fi fans, slasher fans, or drug culture enthusiasts, so in that light it makes sense to avoid continuity or canon within the series, because the audience would likely be different picture to picture as these would flood Blockbusters throughout the years.

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    So with all that in mind, what to make of Leprechaun 2? It’s a curious picture, to be sure. It begins very well – I applaud the filmmakers for going back to Ireland to start in an attempt to define history and character for the titular troublemaker. As ludicrous as it is to see these nonsensical rules being applied to the leprechaun (on his thousandth birthday he gets a bride, he has to make her sneeze three times, etc.) it’s still nice to see some kind of attempt to define the character. In the first film, it’s pretty much “he likes gold”, with the exception of the fun, but totally afterthought, concoction that he must compulsively polish shoes. With the beginning of this second picture, we get an entertaining look into his history and desire to wed, but almost as soon as we get settled there, the film takes an even bigger leap of logic by uprooting us (literally, in that Houdini tree) to Los Angeles. I’m all for films setting themselves in the home where movies are made, but Leprechaun 2’s biggest problem is that once it gets there, it has very little to do. Other than making the lead a tour guide to the stars (but not really, since we never see any LA landmarks and after the first act his occupation doesn’t factor into the plot in the least bit) there’s really no reason for the film to be in LA other than for the cynical reason of trying to save the production money. The series would find (relative) success by embracing the hood as a location a few sequels from here, but in Leprechaun 2, the movie does very little with its biggest selling point.

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    The film does very little with its Los Angeles setting, but it also disappointingly does even less with its other high concept – the leprechaun wanting a bride. That may be the driving factor behind the film, but throughout the film the leprechaun does very little for actual love – he’s more just up to the same old antics in between trying to get married. He’s getting drunk, driving his go-kart, granting wishes and impersonating people rather than doing the thing he’s been waiting now 2,000 years to consummate. This guy has a serious case of ADHD. My other big problem is that Shevonne Durkin is more leaden than the pipe that pierces the leprechaun at the end of the film – compared to the wry and plucky Jennifer Aniston in the first movie, she’s a dead weight in this picture. She looks the part, and I guess can sneeze well, but once she opens her mouth she seems like a petulant, pouty brat. Is anyone really rooting for her and Cody to get back together and save the day? In this movie, I’m all Team Lep.

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    When a franchise is called “Leprechaun”, it’s a good thing that the main draw each picture ends up being the rascally little Irishman. Warwick Davis caries what’s really a plodding, nonsensical picture with gravitas, relishing his little rhymes and riddles with a showman’s quality. Considering how thinly defined his character has been throughout the series, it really is notable how much personality, disposition and charm Davis is able to inject into the little lad. The model here is definitely Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger, but Davis’ Leprechaun is more than just a guy spouting one liners, he has a devilish charm and conveys a genuine glee for malady. Even when he’s not talking, he’s got that little skip and circus performer’s posture to entice you into the next act. For such a small actor, he carries himself in such a big, larger-than-life way, it’s pretty amazing to watch. It’s even more amazing, considering Davis was only 24 at the time of the film’s release. Davis reveals in the extra features on this disc that he was almost passed over for the sequel – what a criminal mistake that would have been. There definitely wouldn’t have been 7 leprechaun films had the Trimark brass took the film in another direction. They stuck with Davis, and as the core essence of the franchise, he makes even the slightest story in this series resonate with murderous mirth.

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    As grand as Davis is in the role of the Leprechaun, part of the praise needs to always fall on Gabe Bartalos and his ghastly makeup. At this point it’s as iconic as any of Davis’ one liners, and as Bartalos points out in the documentary, it goes above just defining how leprechauns look in film, to really becoming the first thing most would picture when the word “leprechaun” is even mentioned. His work in the series has defined how we as a collective culture envision the mythological mite, and in Leprechaun 2 he does some of his best work in the series. When it comes to the leprechaun’s makeup there isn’t much difference compared to the first, but Bartalos is able to add to the character in interesting ways. There’s a great bit near the end where the leprechaun loses his hat to reveal that behind all the long, ginger hair is a huge, cratered bald spot. The leprechaun sheepishly puts the hat back on, and suddenly with this jokey little sight gag we get a glimpse into what might possibly define his temperament and character. Seems fitting that in a film where the leprechaun is trying to superficially find a beautiful bride that he himself be concerned with his own physical insecurities. Apart from just the leprechaun, Bartalos also excels in the death sequences, ripping fingers, tearing a pot o’ gold out of a chest, reincarnating a skeleton Harryhausen-style and in the best effect, blowing up an entire body. I would have loved to have seen what Bartalos could have come up with for the lawn mower blade death had that not been presented only in shadow. Much like Davis does with character, Bartalos is able to convey a jovial love for mayhem with his effects, and together those two are what buoy the show.

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    Leprechaun 2 is a flawed movie. I think it took a step forward in production value, with some nice sets, lighting and camera-work, and did good in trying to explore some of the backstory and mythos of the leprechaun character. It took some steps backward, though, with its forgettable slate of characters and lazy use of the Los Angeles location. Pacing is a problem, as the kills are fairly spread out and the central wedding story that’s supposed to drive the film really takes a backseat to various goofy leprechaun setpieces. Throughout the film you can see a poster for Friday the 13th, Part II in the background, and when it comes to slasher second films, that’s the picture to which all other slasher sequels should aspire. Leprechaun 2 falls grossly short of that, but on the strength of its lead and its makeup it remains watchable, and good enough to let us go to a much livelier Las Vegas next film. It’s pennies on the dollar compared to three, but a tiny payout, nonetheless.


    Image Quality

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    There was a bit of controversy in regards to the stretching and cropping of the first film in comparison with the open matte DVD, but transfer for Leprechaun 2 is all rainbows. Quite frankly, I can’t remember seeing a bigger improvement in clarity and quality from a DVD to Blu-ray release than what I’ve seen here for this picture. First, on the framing, the original DVD was slightly windowboxed to present a 1.88:1 widescreen ratio. Theatrically, this would have been projected at 1.85:1, and on this Blu-ray it’s the 16x9 TV friendly 1.76:1 ratio. All pretty negligible differences, but the Blu-ray does feature the widest field of view, with a little more information on the top of the picture. As you can see from the comparisons, the Blu-ray transfer has been reframed slightly from the DVD, moving the framing up a hair, so bit of image is lost from the bottom, while much more is gained up top. I prefer the new framing, since it provides slightly more headroom. But whatever, how does it all actually look? In a word? Amazing.

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    This BD-50 affords the film (coupled with the first film on the same disc) a healthy bitrate, and it’s evident a completely new scan and transfer was commissioned. This new transfer is much cleaner, with less scratches and specks visible right off the bat. There’s also a better representation of the darker elements of the frame, with the washed out color cast from the original DVD no longer visible. The biggest change comes in the clarity though. Suddenly background objects have texture, text on labels and paper now are sharp enough to read, and even little things, like freckles on bare flesh, can now be made out. If you look at the closeup of the leprechaun’s face above, you see that what looked like just a brown mass of nothing near the bottom of the frame on the DVD is actually rendered as distinct strands of hair on this new HD transfer. That upgrade is visible on every shot throughout the film, and the improvement really is revelatory.

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    You’ll notice as well that care has been put into recoloring the film for Blu-ray, and I’d say it’s all for the better. Fleshtones are less pink and more natural, and the big change comes mainly during the credits and pre-credit sequence. Blue highlights are now visible during the moonlight Ireland scenes, putting the sequence more firmly in the nighttime it’s supposed to simulate. The bigger change is during the credits and the Ireland title card, where the orange cast has been taken out for a more neutral look that suits the look that’s always followed the rest of the picture. Everyone’s a judge, and I’m sure someone out there will have a problem with that, but I don’t think there’s anyone who can deny that the overall improvement of framing, detail, clarity and dynamic range is overwhelming on this new release. Bravo.


    Sound

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    You know that when you see the flashy new DTS logo on a Leprechaun release that the luck of the Irish really is smiling down upon you. Like the video, the audio here on Leprechaun 2 is surprisingly top notch. Listed only as a DTS-HD 2.0 track, don’t be fooled, this is more than just a higher bitrate mono track. All told, Leprechaun 2 features a fairly active stereo track with a lot of directional effects and a good mix of sound effects and score. Sounds like echoing in the parking lot or the clang of the iron rod have surprising resonance, and dialogue and all other audio elements sound very crisp. The audio on the previous DVDs was always better than you’d think, but it takes a step up (more like a leprechaun step compared to the video, but an improvement nonetheless) here on Blu-ray. The noise floor seems lowered on this release and there seems to be more audible little details that can be heard on the new track. Color me pleasantly surprised.


    Supplemental Material

    inline ImageFirst up is a commentary with Director Rodman Flender, moderated by Icons of Fright’s Rob Galluzzo. Galluzzo keeps it running at a good clip, but Flender becomes kind of insufferable as the commentary roles on. Flender treats the commentary like a Mystery Science Theater episode, trying to quip rather than qualify his experience with facts or anecdotes. At one point Galluzzo, ever the saint that he is, asks the important question: Was it a body double in that topless scene? Flender’s response? “They’re my breasts”. Sharp wit. If you’re willing to slog through all the cringe-worthy jokes (“This lens flare was my nod to J.J. Abrams!”) there are some interesting factoids about the film and Flender’s participation within, but most of that stuff comes out in the featurette, so best to just get it all there.

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    Red Shirt Pictures gives us gold for another feautrette, this one talking about how the series moved on from Mark Jones, how Denise Richards almost landed the leading lady role, and how they did that gross, but hilarious, leprechaun lick effect in the film. “The Leprechaun Chronicles, Part Two: A Second Chance” runs 21-minutes and features Director Rodman Flender, as well as most of the other people from the first doc (Davis, Bartalos, Jones, Amin). Informative, entertaining and well put together, it’s again over and above what we’ve ever seen for extras on the Leprechaun releases prior, and probably a little (a lot?) more than the film deserves, but I’m sure glad to have it.


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    Lastly, there’s the hilarious trailer for Leprechaun 2 that features a few shots that are not seen in the film proper (like Davis mugging directly to camera “I’m back!”). Considering Mike Myers does his leprechaun shtick in Wayne’s World 2 under a flashlight the same as Warwick Davis in this trailer, I’d venture to guess the timely reference was an allusion to this trailer rather than either of the first two films themselves. A still gallery of production photos rounds off the disc – too bad there were no behind-the-scenes photos included as well.


    Final Thoughts

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    Leprechaun 2 is a mixed bag, or should I say a hobnobbed pot – on one hand it’s got a nice prelude in Ireland, strong production value, inspired makeup and a charismatic leading performance, but on the other it’s an at times plodding picture that lazily languishes in LA and doesn’t really payoff its premise. On the strength of Warwick Davis’ infectiously devilish leprechaun though, it still remains watchable. For a series that has so long been mired in cheap, shoddy, featureless releases, it’s pretty surreal to be going through this box set and seeing all these well-produced and put together transfers and extras. Lionsgate finally found the gold at the end of the rainbow via some of the best home video content producers in the business. Leprechaun 2 looks and sounds good as gold, and the extras are more extensive than even the biggest of leprechaun fans could wish for. The first film tells us that the leprechaun loves to polish shoes, and with this set, and this film in particular, Lionsgate has polished a cheap, shabby sole into something horror fans should be proud to wear around in their collection. Well done, lads.

    Rating

    [​IMG] Movie - C

    Image Quality - A

    Sound - B+

    Supplements - B+


    Technical Info.
    • Colour
    • Running time - 1 hour and 25 minutes
    • Rated R
    • 4 Discs
    • Chapter Stops
    • English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
    • English SDH subtitles
    • Spanish subtitles
    Supplemental Material
    • Leprechaun Chronicles Part Two: A Second Chance” Making-of Featurette
    • Audio Commentary with Director Rodman Flender
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • Still gallery
    Other Pictures

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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2015
    Dave likes this.
  2. rift

    rift New Member

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    I was about to give Chunkblower props for writing a more fair review this time, but now I see it's Rhett's handiwork. Well done.
     
  3. Zombie Dude

    Zombie Dude Well-Known Member

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    Yes, this is indeed a much better review. Thanks Rhett! Although this one has grown on me over the years I do agree that it doesn't quite do enough with its Los Angeles setting or the bride story element.
     
  4. booper71

    booper71 Lord of the Thighs.

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    Miss the vidmark, trimark, coming attractions, previews that were on VHS.
     
  5. booper71

    booper71 Lord of the Thighs.

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    Miss the vidmark, trimark, coming attractions, previews that were on VHS.
     
  6. hellraiser40

    hellraiser40 Active Member

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    all the leprechaun movies suck ass, except for 4 which goes so over the top that you can at least get some fun out of that
     
  7. Demoni

    Demoni Active Member

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    Still, I think it deserves more than a C. It´s a bad movie but still a campy one.
     
  8. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    I'm glad they didn't do more with the bride element. Otherwise, then it would have turned into a direct clone of Bride of Frankenstein.

    And, as far as the Wayne's World 2 thing goes- the films are separated by 4 months' theatrical release. Wayne was released first. So... chances are greater that the flashlight gag in Leprechaun 2's trailer was actually a reference to Wayne's World 2 and that Mike Myers and the makes of WW2 just didn't watch the movie.
     
  9. MisterTwister

    MisterTwister The Schlock King

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    Rewatched this one for St. Patty's Day and it's one that has grown on me more and more over the years. The two leads are terrible but this is Warwick Davis' show and he does a fantastic job (as usual)

    HD transfer looks great as well.
     
  10. CPT HOOK

    CPT HOOK Well-Known Member

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    I finally cracked open my blu-ray set as well and have been watching these. Watched 2 last night and will be watching 3 (easily my favorite) when I get home tonight. I've never seen the Hood sequels or Origins, so those will all be first time watches for me.

    To be honest... Leprechaun and Leprechaun 2 are pretty terrible. They do have their charms, but they're very repetitive and the final acts of both movies drag. If it wasn't for the occasional gore, you'd think these were made for kids. It didn't surprise me in the featurette on the first movie that it was filmed as a PG-13, then did reshoots to spruce it up to an R. I will say that watching both in hi-def, I enjoyed both movies more than I ever have before. They look terrific, and the extras are great. Of all the great horror in the LionsGate catalog, who would have thought Leprechaun would be the one getting the royal treatment?
     
  11. fceurich39

    fceurich39 Well-Known Member

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    have all 7 on dvd I only like the first 3 anyway walmart has the 7 film collection on dvd for 9.96
     
  12. MisterTwister

    MisterTwister The Schlock King

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    Leprechaun 1 & 2 are terrible....TERRIBLY FUN! I don't give a shit if they aren't that gory either. They remain fun and goofy b-movies regardless of lack of gory violence. Also the third acts don't drag at all.

    That is all.
     
    DVD-fanatic-9 likes this.

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