Leprechaun 3

Discussion in 'High Def' started by Chunkblower, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. Chunkblower

    Chunkblower Member

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG] Reviewer: Chunkblower
    Review Date: October 30, 2014

    Released by: Lionsgate
    Release date: 9/30/2014
    MSRP: $39.97
    Region A
    Progressive Scan
    Codec: AVC, 1080p
    Widescreen 1.78:1 | 16x9: Yes
    1995



    The third film is the make-it-or-break-it point in a franchise. It’s the film that either shores up the fan base or utterly obliterates it. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 hit it out of the park and solidified the series’ place as the premiere horror franchise of the late 80s. The Matrix Revolutions, despite two hugely successful predecessors, was so poorly received it permanently besmirched the reputation of the beloved original and all but killed a lucrative multimedia franchise. Whatever one thought of the quality of the original Leprechaun film, its financial success was undeniable and all but assured that a sequel would be made. Leprechaun 2 didn’t make nearly the box office splash that the original film did but it moved enough units to convince Trimark that perhaps there was audience enough to make a small profit on one more direct to video sequel. So, forgoing the theatrical release of the first two films, Leprechaun 3 made its debut in video stores a little over year after two debuted in theatres.

    Now, comparatively, the stakes for the Leprechaun series weren’t nearly as high as a billion-dollar franchise like The Matrix, and from all accounts it seems like Trimark didn’t have much faith in the future of the franchise. A successful franchise can allow smaller studios a dependable revenue stream to help keep the lights on but the dreary box office returns of Leprechaun 2 seemed to have quashed their hopes for future installments. Instead, they handed off production to Blue Rider Pictures and dusted their hands clean of what they assumed was a dead series. With a new production team, a change of venue, a smaller budget than the previous outing and a veteran B-movie director at the helm, does Leprechaun 3 have what it takes to keep the series alive?

    The Story

    No farting around with silly prologue scenes, Leprechaun 3 drops us right into the story. When a statue of the Leprechaun is sold to Las Vegas pawnbroker, Gupta (Marcelo Tubert), the seller warns him not to remove the medallion hanging round the statue’s neck. Of course, he ignores this warning. Too bad for him. The medallion is a magical totem able to keep the leprechaun at bay in a state of suspended animation. When removed, the Leprechaun (Warwick Davis) comes to life and begins terrorizing the pawnbroker, biting off his toes and threatening to beat him to death with his shillelagh.

    Meanwhile, Naïve college hopeful Scott (John Gatins) rolls onto the Las Vegas strip looking for a bit of fun before he hunkers down to begin his studies. He immediately meets the beautiful Tammy (Lee Armstrong), her car dead by the side of the road. He picks her up and learns that she is a magician’s apprentice at a shady casino. After a bit of cajoling, underage Scott manages to get Tammy to sneak him onto the casino floor on one condition: he promises Tammy he will not gamble. The allure of the roulette table and the prospect of winning a big fortune is too much for Scott to resist, though, and after a few minutes on the casino floor he cashes in his $23,000 tuition check for a stack of chips and heads for a roulette table. Little does he realize that the table, run by crooked dealer Loretta (an entertainingly hammy Caroline Williams) is fixed and in no time flat he is flat broke. After a bit of prodding by Loretta, Scott heads across the street to Gupta’s pawn shop to hock the watch his grandfather gave him as a High School graduation present. So much for sentimentality. In the shop, he stumbles across Gupta’s dead body and one of the Leprechaun’s coins. After taking possession of the coin and offhandedly wishing he could be back in the casino on a winning streak he finds himself instantaneously back at Loretta’s table, this time with $100K stack of chips in front of him.

    So far, so good. I’m not sure if it’s a function of the higher budget or the fact that the film is in the very capable hands of veteran exploitation director Brian Trenchard-Smith, but Leprechaun 3 starts off very promisingly: the main cast of characters, the setting and situation are all quickly established with a minimum of fuckery. He also moves the camera a lot more and effectively builds excitement in even the most prosaic of scenes; I was surprised just how stirring an effective dolly in or out can make a potentially lifeless scene seem. Unfortunately, Leprechaun 3 suffers from a pitfall common to Trenchard-Smith’s films: a flaccid middle act. He’s really good a starting with a bang only to have the film spend its middle act spinning its wheel before it finally revs up for a grand finale. Leprechaun 3 starts out good, cutting between two fairly entertaining stories but once those two plot threads start to intersect the film doesn’t really know what to do. There’s a lot of back and forth as Loretta, Tammy’s preening boss Fazio (John DeMita) and casino owner Mitch (Michael Callin) all vie for possession of the coin and all take turns at their own wish fulfillment. The shifting of focus away from Scott and Tammy gives the middle act an aimless feeling. When the story finally brings Scott front and centre again it’s to have him be bitten by the Leprechaun and, bizarrely, start to turn into a Leprechaun himself. There’s also a seriously lame, go-nowhere subplot about a couple of mob collection enforcers.

    Balancing this out though, is some of the film’s best moments, especially a bizarre scene where Mitch is seduced by a robot disguised as a big breasted blonde conjured by the Leprechaun to come out of the TV. While this extremely awkward love scene is playing out, the Leprechaun appears in a variety of guises on the TV itself. It’s such a strange, out of left field moment that it almost transcends the sheer WTF-ness of the set up for pure audacity. There’s also a genuinely funny section where Scott is taken to the hospital for his Leprechaun-itis and his test results come back decidedly…Irish. For the sharp-eyed viewer, there are even cameos by four of Trenchard-Smith’s Night of the Demons 2 alumni. And for what it’s worth, I thought future Oscar-nominee John Gatins’ unconventional looks were a refreshing change of pace from the usual bland, hunky leading men headlining these low rent horror pictures and he effectively sells the character’s wide-eyed naivety. Lastly, let’s not forget Lee Armstrong. While she doesn’t exhibit the greatest acting range ever she does spend the majority of the film in her magician’s assistant costume which, as Fazio points out, she has a way of “filling out.” No arguments here.

    Like a lot of Trenchard-Smith’s films, a strong concluding act mostly manages to make up for the lull in the middle. When the Leprechaun and cut-rate magician Fazio duke it out on stage during one of his magic acts, the result is a satisfyingly gory showstopper of a death. Gabe Bartalos is really given a much bigger canvas to work with and he doesn’t disappoint; the kills are imaginative and fun and there’s more (and better) gore in the first five minutes of Leprechaun 3 than in the entirety of the first film. That in itself probably would have been satisfying enough but before the impact of that bisection scene has worn off we’re treated to an impressively fiery final fight that includes aerial wirework that wouldn’t look out of place in a big budget studio film like Firestarter.

    All of Leprechaun 3’s pluses would be all for naught, however, without an anchor to hold the picture together and, once again, Warwick Davis steps up to the plate and delivers. While he’s never been a slouch in the part, his third go-round as the diminutive demon is his best one yet. In 3 he strikes the right balance between camp silliness and black humor tinged with the right edge of menace to make him a credible threat. The movie gives him a bit more to do, too, even if it’s just brief clips spoofing televangelists or phone psychics. While Leprechaun 2 took an admirable, if not entirely successful, stab at adding depth and additional motivation to the Leprechaun, here he’s back to his usual “I want me gold!” shtick. Thing is, in the context of the Vegas setting it doesn’t seem like a character regression. Of course, amidst the capital of avarice he’d have nothing but gold on his mind. Now, if only he could figure out how to properly mind his gold…

    Image Quality

    Leprechaun 3 was made on a much bigger scale than its predecessors but not on a budget that grew in equal proportion. Add to that guerilla-style location shooting and the look of the film isn’t as slick as the previous two. The Blu-ray transfer, while have some serious detractions, is still likely a best case scenario. First, the good: the film is present in 1.78 widescreen and shows nice detail and color reproduction. There’s a lot of neon in the set design and this is often used to light the actors to good effect, which this transfer really showcases. The bad: a lot of the shots captured on the fly are a bit out of focus and there are the occasional source blemishes – including a very noticeable scratch in the Elvis impersonator scene that runs from the top to bottom of the screen for a few seconds at the end scene. Overall, the look of the film in general is a bit softer and more washed out despite the occasional pop of neon. This is probably a result of how it was shot but it does mean Leprechaun 3 doesn’t have quite the visual shine of the first two films in this set.

    Sound

    If the picture’s a bit of a letdown, then the audio is right in line with my expectations. The DTS-HD 2.0 track neither distinguishes nor embarrasses itself. There’s not much new to say: it’s a nicely mixed track that mostly strikes a good balance between music, effects and dialogue.

    Supplemental Material

    Director Brian Trenchard-Smith offers his take on the film through his own feature length commentary. Trenchard-Smith seems like a great, no-bullshit kind of guy. He knows exactly what kind of film he made and has no illusions about that. He offers interesting insight into the slings and arrows of low budget filmmaking and shares some of the tricks he used to make sure he got the maximum value onto the screen. I really enjoyed this track.

    The Leprechaun Chronicles continue in Part 3: Place Your Bets (29:51) is not quite as revelatory as the first installment but still represents a solid behind the scenes feature. The usual interviews are interspersed with clips from the movie and production and behind the scenes stills. I wish it didn’t gloss over the change in production team so quickly and that they’d utilized some outtakes but it’s likely that such material doesn’t exist. For what it is, though, it’s well put together and it’s half hour running time breezes by. Fine work once again by Red Shirt Pictures.

    An animated Stills Gallery (4:09) is a series of promotional photos set to Irish-y music. I wish it had a few more behind the scenes stills but, again, what can you do? It is what it is.

    A full screen trailer (1:01) for the video release that looks like it was sourced from video rounds out the supplemental package. It’s pretty cheap looking and the sound is raw and unfinished suggesting that it was probably cut while the film was still in production. It’s interesting that even though the campy humor is the biggest part of the appeal of the series, Trimark was still trying to sell it as straight-ahead horror.

    Final Thoughts

    Leprechaun 3 is a great example of how care and craft can elevate nearly any kind of material. It’s a goofy, low rent B-movie, and nothing’s going to change that but the filmmakers didn’t use that as an excuse to phone it in. Director Brian Trenchard-Smith generates some visual interest with an active camera, interesting lighting choices and encouraging his actors to have fun and ham it up. Not everything in Leprechaun 3 works but the balance this time around has shifted to a more constantly (if not thoroughly) entertaining mix. The Leprechaun franchise got off to a rocky start but part three is exactly the sort of campy, gory fun that I’d been waiting for the franchise to deliver but hadn’t.

    Rating

    [​IMG] Movie - B-

    Image Quality - B-

    Sound - B

    Supplements - B+


    Technical Info.
    • Color
    • Rated R
    • 4 Discs
    • Chapter Stops
    • English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
    • English SDH subtitles
    • Spanish subtitles
    Supplements
    • “Leprechaun Chronicles Part Three: Place Your Bets” Making-of Featurette
    • Audio Commentary with Director Brian Trenchard-Smith
    • Stills Gallery
    • Theatrical Trailer
     
  2. Zillamon51

    Zillamon51 Member

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    Bowl of Lucky Charms in hand, I gave this flick a spin the other day, while the celebration of St. Patrick swept the land. It seemed very cheap to me, while it brought the reviewer much glee, but in honesty I watched the old fullscreen DVD. Upgrading to Blu seems the wise thing to do as I think about it whilst sitting on the loo.
     
    CPT HOOK likes this.
  3. rhett

    rhett Administrator

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    Bravo. Every comment on the Leprechaun reviews should be rhyming.
     

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