The Leprechaun franchise is a fascinating oddity of a series. While Friday the 13th, Child’s Play, Halloween and the rest have all had their weird twists and turns, none of them have taken so many weird turns with such regularity as this one. It’s a bizarre series because, really, it isn’t a series in any way, shape or form. If anything, it’s an anthology.
Before now, with the release of Leprechaun Returns, there had previously been no direct sequels. Each one had only the unifying factor of Warwick Davis as the titular villain—with the exception of Leprechaun: Origins, of course—but none of them have any continuity from one to the next. Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood isn’t even a sequel to Leprechaun In the Hood. Yet, because of this, it’s one of the most creatively freeing independent horror series ever. All it takes to make a Leprechaun flick is to think of a setting or scenario that would be funnier if the Leprechaun were added to it, and (budget permitting) go from there.
Leprechaun: Origins stretched the loose confines of the franchise even further by removing the character played by Warwick Davis, the one thing present throughout each entry, and dropping the comedic approach in favor of a gritty, intentionally humorless and wholeheartedly serious take on the concept of the Leprechaun. Because of that, in addition to being the first direct sequel in the franchise ever, Leprechaun Returns is also the first “true” Leprechaun movie since 2003.
But, as luck would have it, for each tongue-in-cheek, cartoonish and pun-fueled Leprechaun movie we have, there’s another we don’t. There have been several attempts to take the franchise in new directions over the years that are still unseen to this day. These projects range from the expected “Leprechaun in X Scenario” movies to weird and inventive ideas that were only ever half formed and even crossover films with other iconic, but affordable horror characters.
It’s hard to know exactly what any of these movies would look like, but that’s precisely what makes them interesting. Each of these seven ideas are completely different from one another. Leprechaun is a series that’s at its best when it leans into its inherent goofiness and it’s easy to imagine many of these unmade projects would have adhered to that golden rule.
Leprechaun in the White House
When Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Leprechaun 3 was released, it was the most successful straight-to-video horror film of 1995 and it remains a fan-favorite even now. Because of that, he went right on to direct Leprechaun 4: In Space as well. Despite that one-two punch, Trenchard-Smith never directed another Leprechaun entry, though it was not for lack of trying. He did have a pitch for Leprechaun 5, as it turned out, and that idea would have seen the Leprechaun finding his way into the White House. As the director has noted, his version would have seen the little imp infiltrating an oafish but well-meaning first family. This was, after all, the Clinton era and Trenchard-Smith was a fan of the president at the time.
While the timing was far from as perfect a chance for satire as it would have been during the Bush years or, say, now, Leprechaun in the White House had a lot of potential just based on the concept alone. Unfortunately, Trimark thought it was “too out there,” which is pretty flabbergasting considering that this was coming right on the heels of the space movie. This isn’t the only horror franchise that tried to invade the White House, either, as Stuart Gordon also attempted to bring in Herbert West to reanimate the president in House of Re-Animator, which also unfortunately never happened.
Candyman vs. Leprechaun
Candyman is one of the best horror films of the 1990s. It might even be the best. Leprechaun, for all of its charms, is not. Other than supernatural central characters with vaguely defined powers, these two franchises have nothing to do with one another. They’re completely different on a tonal and stylistic level. It seems absurd and impossible that this crossover would actually have ever been considered. But it was, at least briefly. Tony Todd has famously said that, in the slow period after Candyman 3 that saw us bereft of any Candyman film until the upcoming reboot, the studio pitched him on the idea of a crossover with the Leprechaun franchise as this was on the heels of Freddy vs. Jason and they happened to own both characters. But he immediately turned down the idea.
Obviously, there are a few things that have to be considered in this head-scratching matchup. First and foremost, what would the Candyman want with the Leprechaun’s gold? Would whoever stole the gold be somehow related to Candyman, as that was who the Candyman targeted in both of his sequels? What about the height difference? Tony Todd isn’t just a man of average height, he’s a tall, tall man. Considering the budget this would likely have been produced for, it’s hard to imagine that it would have made fans of either franchise happy.
Leprechaun in the Old West
This idea was frankly genius and I’m always going to be a little bit bummed that it never came to fruition. After In the Hood and Back 2 Tha Hood, a few years passed before there was any serious talk of another Leprechaun movie. When the idea finally came, it came from none other than Darren Lynn Bousman, who was just coming off the massive success of Saw II, III and IV at the time. The idea was to do a period piece, taking the Leprechaun back to the Old West in the days of the California Gold Rush.
It’s so simple and yet it’s so obvious. It’s still amazing that nobody else ever jumped on this, even after Bousman. Maybe if Returns reignites the franchise (and I hope it will) we’ll see another crack at this. The idea of the Leprechaun taking on old-timey gold miners is too good to go to waste. In terms of a creator coming off a huge success to tackle an oddball franchise, this feels very much like the “S. Craig Zahler is writing a Puppet Master movie” of its day… only that one actually wound up happening.
Warwick Davis’s Leprechaun Pitch
For many, it’s bittersweet going into the next Leprechaun without Warwick Davis, as he has defined the role for so many years. There was a time when he was completely invested in the character, even after landing huge gigs like the Harry Potter films. After Back 2 Tha Hood, he had his own ideas for where the franchise should head, at one point noting that he wanted to finally be introduced to the Leprechaun’s entire family, including a wife, children, parents, etc. If it sounds like Eddie Murphy’s schtick in The Nutty Professor, well, that appears to be entirely the point.
It would have admittedly been hilarious to be introduced to the extended Leprechaun clan à la The Klumps, especially with Davis portraying each character himself. This would also have shed some new light on Leprechaun 2, which saw the Lep attempt to claim an unwilling bride, if he’d been neglecting to mention the fact that he was already married the whole time.
Leprechaun vs. Wishmaster
It’s much harder to say if this was ever actually in as remotely serious consideration as Candyman vs. Leprechaun. This idea first spread after an extremely well cut trailer started circulating the web, a fan trailer using clips from both franchises, which is commonplace and not usually an indicator that anything official might actually be happening. But there were a lot of rumors at the time that someone had cut the trailer to pitch as a sizzle reel to Lionsgate. The trailer even got spotlighted on Fangoria’s website and Ain’t It Cool News at the time.
The thing that gives the slightest bit of credibility to the idea is the fact that both franchises were under the same umbrella and that they had clearly wanted to try and cross over the Leprechaun with other properties given the attempt at Candyman. While that idea didn’t make any sense, Leprechaun vs. Wishmaster could honestly have worked. Both series had similar tones and styles, and cost about the same to make. A crossover between the two could have actually had potential to be, at the very least, an entertaining watch.
Leprechaun: Origins 2
Like most horror reboots, Leprechaun: Origins was planned to be the launching point for a whole new franchise. And, like most horror reboots, it wasn’t. Even now, most rebooted horror series have at best spawned one follow-up before simply being rebooted again. Both Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did this. But when WWE films picked up the rights to Leprechaun, they wanted to take it seriously, both in terms of handling the property and in terms of their approach to the story. Most fans considered the latter idea to be a mistake. While there’s something interesting in the idea of the folkloric Leprechaun rather than the stereotypical one, this is a concept that needs a degree of humor in order to work.
The very intentional decision to strip what had always been a comedy-horror series of all its comedy in favor of doubling down on grit and intensity did not prove to be a hit. Even though newcomer Dylan “Hornswaggle” Postl was barely glimpsed and had no lines in the feature, he expressed serious interest in reprising the role for future sequels had they actually wound up happening.
Alright, this isn’t technically a Leprechaun movie but it might as well have been and definitely earns its spot on this list, considering that it’s a movie about a killer Leprechaun from the original feature’s writer/director Mark Jones, with the intention of Warwick Davis starring in the title role. It wouldn’t have had anything to do with previous Leprechaun movies, but again, they’d never had anything to do with each other in the first place. The central conceit is brutally simple and exactly what you get from the title: it’s about a Leprechaun that is also a vampire. The idea of Davis basically playing the same character he’d done six times before, but this time in a tuxedo and cape and drinking the blood of his victims between limericks, just sounds so entirely watchable. It’s a shame that this one never came to fruition.
To be fair, though, it came closer than anything else on this list. Jones was dead set on making Vamprechaun a reality and checked with the attorney he had hired for the project, who also helped him raise the funding for the film, to make sure there would be no legal troubles from the owners of the Leprechaun franchise. This all stopped dead when Jones then sued the man as, according to Jones, he turned out not to be a real attorney.