Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)

One small step for man. One giant leap of terror!

A space marine rescue squad is on it’s way to a distant planet to save a princes from the evil leprechaun, who wants her to be his bride so that he can marry into royalty and get his hands on the king’s gold. The marines rescue the princess and take her back to their ship. However, the leprechaun manages to stowaway on board and proceeds to kill the marines one-by-one so that he can be reunited with his bride-to-be.

 

I honestly can’t imagine anyone walking into a producer’s office to put forward their script idea about a third sequel to Leprechaun but this time set in space. It either takes some real balls or the person has been clinically proven to be insane. It seems to be an unwritten rule for struggling franchises to send their anti-hero into space. Friday the 13th did it with Jason X. Pinhead and his cronies turned up on a space station in Hellraiser: Bloodline. Even the Gremlins wannabes, the Crites, ended up there with Critters 4. And now the annoying little Irish git with the shiny shoes and hankering for gold is blasted off into space. I’m guessing that someone had a script for some Aliens-style sci-fi flick ready to go and the leprechaun was thrown in there as the monster. You might as well give him acid blood and a weird second jaw because Leprechaun 4: In Space runs like your typical monster-on-the-loose-in-confined-place horror.

There are no limericks, no four-leaf clovers or medallions and strangely enough, no pots of gold.  Leprechaun 4: In Space has absolutely nothing to do with any of the series preceding or following it. It’s just an anomaly. How he even gets onto an alien planet in the first place is never explained. Are we to take this as a standalone film where the leprechaun is actually an alien? If so, why is it billed as a sequel? Its best not to really try and comprehend things like this – leaving them unanswered is for the best. What needs answering though is a personal question which will depend on your position towards bad films. Do you believe that a film can be truly horrendous yet superbly entertaining at the same time? Or are you in the boat that says that truly horrendous = total waste of time?

Usually I’d go with the latter but in this case, I’ll make an exception. It’s mind-blowingly bad but at the same time, there’s a perverse entertainment to be had from watching it. There’s so much wrong with it that it becomes car-crash cinema – you honestly have no idea where the film is going to go next. From one of horror’s greatest ever resurrection sequences (it doesn’t pay one to wee on the remains of a leprechaun!), to the no-budget spaceship effects (which would look at home on an early 80s home computer) to a scene in which you see the leprechaun wielding a lightsabre, you never really know what is coming to poke fun at.

We’ve got a Dr Evil/Blofeld-style scientist bad guy complete with bald head who rants and raves a lot before turning into a giant spider/scorpion creature (as if a killer leprechaun wasn’t enough for the marines to face). There’s a marine who has an identity crisis halfway through the film and comes out dressed in drag. There’s the token hot doctor who gets her pants ripped off for no reason whatsoever to provide mild titillation. Not least the giant leprechaun at the end of the film (courtesy of a run-in with a laser beam) and a finale right out of Aliens. It takes as many sci-fi clichés as it possibly can and crams them all into what is essentially a slasher-in-space.

I feel sorry for Warwick Davis because he’s actually very good in his leprechaun role and has a lot of fun with it. In fact he’s been the sole consistent throughout the series, always turning out decent performances but unfortunately in one of cinema’s daftest roles, filled with comedic one-liners which will either have you groaning for the mute button or laughing in mad hysteria. Guy Siner really overacts badly as Dr Mittenhand, the German-esque scientist who looks like an old school Doctor Who baddie at first but then turns into some form of Roger Corman-esque schlocky monster. The role of the meddling scientist has long been a staple of this genre but there’s too much focus on him – this is a film about a killer leprechaun after all. Mittenhand just takes up a lot of screen time when the script would have been best served with lots more leprechaun action (and the audience too, knowing that at least the leprechaun is funny).

The rest of the cast are there to fill out the stereotype roles of the various marines so don’t bother getting acquainted with any first names. With the really dull and sparse sets hurting the eyes after a while, no doubt courtesy of the low budget, it’s down to Rebekah Carlton, as the princess, to at least makes a welcome distraction with a bit of eye candy. The low budget means that the majority of the cash has been channelled into the sci-fi elements of the film, meaning that the horror elements are overlooked. Leprechaun 4: In Space features arguably the worst selection of death scenes in the entire series which is a pity as some of the previous ones were highly memorable for the wrong reasons.

 

Leprechaun 4: In Space is a true classic of bad filmmaking. It’s horrendously entertaining for all of the wrong reasons but provides so many hilariously terrible moments, than one can’t help but wonder if it was all done on purpose. I can’t recommend watching Leprechaun 4: In Space enough – by far the most inspired of the sequels and potentially one of the most inspired sequels to horror franchises of all time! See it to believe it!

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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