The Leprechaun is back in Leprechaun Returns, a coproduction of Lionsgate and Syfy. You can see the unedited version on home video and VOD as of today, but even if you watch it on the Syfy channel, you won’t be missing any gore, says director Steven Kostanski.
“Actually, it wasn’t even the kills that got cut out,” Kostanski said. “It was more just pacing stuff. I think most of that stays intact.”
One of those gore effects that Kostanski is most proud of is a body split in half. “It’s one of those gags as an effects artist, you always want to build some version of that,” he said. “The way that he’s bisected, from my horror movie knowledge, I’ve ever only seen in 13 Ghosts. So I wanted to push that as far as I could and really show the full effect. I feel a lot of movies kind of cheap out. They only show the first part of the split or the second part, but I feel like you see the whole thing happen. It’s pretty great.”
Leprechaun Returns is a practical effects movie. It’s not without any CGI moments, but Kostanski pushed for practical wherever possible.
“It’s all practical,” he said.
“For all the gags, the only stuff that had to be VFX was just cleanup. So rod removal, because we had to have people puppeteering the stuff. Just taking them out of the shots was the only VFX. The mandate on the movie was if we can do it practically, we do it practically. There’s a whole fire sequence at the end that has a lot of on-set fire. The actresses were really running around in this flaming house. We did not cheap out on doing things for real in camera. It just always looks better.”
So the producers of Leprechaun Returns are heroes for backing a practical effects movie, and Kostanski appreciates them.
“To be fair, a lot of problems are introduced when you decide to do things practically,” he said. “It ultimately does look better but it’s the kind of thing where we’re taking a risk of it not working and ending up having to do it in VFX anyway. So I understand the producer hesitation but the producers on this were really brave and accommodating. I feel like they really busted their butts to make sure I could get as much practically as possible. We defaulted to VFX only when we absolutely had to, when we just didn’t have a choice. I really appreciated that, them having my back on that stuff because it just helps with the overall vibe of the movie and makes it so much more convincing to me when you actually have stuff happening on screen for real, not just pasting it in after the fact.”
Some of the Leprechaun (Linden Porco)’s magical powers may suggest CGI, but even they were conceived practically.
“One of my favorite things in the movie is a melting Leprechaun,” Kostanski said.
“I really wanted to make this puppet version of him because I feel like puppets don’t get enough play in effects and movies anymore. Building the melting Leprechaun puppet was really cool. My effects friend Chris Nash built all the mechanics for that. I think it turned out really well.”
Even a scene with multiple mini-Leprechauns was as practical as could be. They’re still all played by Porco, and there is, in fact, only one Linden Porco.
“We shot Linden on blue screen,” Kostanski said. “There’s one shot where we have a tiny puppet that we use, a little mechanical puppet that one of the characters is holding. We did have mini Leprechauns on set as a lighting reference for the VFX guys. It is practical, just with compositing to achieve it. It’s all Linden. He had a full day of being thrown around on blue screen. It was a real testament to his professionalism. He was roped up on wires being thrown around and doing all this crazy stuff. He endured hours and hours of it. He’s a real trooper.”
Leprechaun Returns is out today!