Horror’s resident St. Patrick’s Day icon built a reputation on schlock. Rhyming puns, a hokey sense of humor that includes an obsession with shoes and gold, and a serious case of wanderlust – the pint-sized killer has traveled from Hollywood, Vegas, space, and the hood, after all.
Surprisingly, though, the Leprechaun ranks pretty high on the list in terms of horror icons with the most kills. He’s managed to surpass fellow figures Chucky and Freddy Krueger as he has now murdered his way through eight films. Freddy and pals have the edge when it comes to creative deaths; a lot of little Lep’s slaying happens off-screen or via quick cutaways.
That’s not to say there aren’t some gory gems throughout the franchise, though.
In keeping with the spirit of revelry for St. Patrick’s Day, we’re celebrating the best kills of the Leprechaun series.
Leprechaun – “He Played Pogo on His Lung!”
The first film of the series established the most important rule when dealing with the Leprechaun: never steal his gold. He sold his soul for it, after all. Poor pawnshop owner Joe acquires one of the shillings when Ozzie and Alex bring it to him to gauge its authenticity and worth. Meaning, Joe didn’t intentionally steal. Lep cares not, and gleefully sings while he hops along Joe’s chest with a pogo stick.
Leprechaun 2 – Cast Iron Stomach
One of the more memorable deaths in this sequel involves a man unwittingly shoving his face into spinning lawnmower blades, mistaking them for a woman’s breasts. It cuts away just before contact, though, leaving us with a little blood splatter and Lep’s amused reaction. Instead, this more graphic kill that establishes one of Lep’s signatures wins the prize. Here, Morty learns the real horrors of the adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” After capturing the Leprechaun, he demands his three wishes. Morty asks for the pot of gold, and Leprechaun obliges by having it manifest in Morty’s stomach. When Morty asks for its removal, Lep grants that wish, too… by tearing it open.
Leprechaun 3 – All Dolled Up
Las Vegas gal Loretta (Caroline Williams) harbors resentment over her lost youth, so she leaps at the chance to reclaim it when she observes the magic of Lep’s gold in action. She wastes no time wishing for the buxom body of a twenty-year-old once she’s stolen the shilling, and it works like a charm. The moment the gold passes to a new owner, who makes a wish of his own, Loretta’s wish blows up. Literally. All of her brand-new body parts plump up like plastic surgery gone wrong, and Loretta’s head ultimately explodes.
Leprechaun 4: In Space – Urinary Tract Infection
In one of the more outlandish sequels, it only makes sense for the kills to match. For space marine Kowalski, he opts to celebrate the death of the Leprechaun by urinating on his corpse. You can’t keep the Lep down, though, and his essence travels through the stream into Kowalski’s penis. It causes a gnarly infection, and the Lep later bursts forth from Kowalski’s penis during a moment of peak arousal. It looks as bizarre as it does painful.
Leprechaun in the Hood – Air Gun
The Leprechaun is after his golden flute in the fifth outing of the series, offering the highest body count of the franchise yet. His favored slaying method in this entry seems to be a sort of air gun, using magic to blow massive holes through the torsos of his victim. He uses it the first time on one of Mack Daddy’s (Ice-T) henchmen, and again on Mack Daddy himself in the film’s climax. Both equally gory, so take your pick.
Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood – Still Standing
Boasting the biggest kill count of the entire series, this sequel opts for quantity over quality. Meaning there aren’t a lot of unique deaths outside of stabbings or off-screen kills. That makes the outlandish death of Officer Whitaker the winner. After a brief fight, Lep rips his leg off, leaving him to profusely bleed out. The kill is dragged out for comedic effect when the cop takes a minute to realize what happened, then hops on one leg to reclaim his stolen limb. He doesn’t make it far.
Leprechaun: Origins – Accidental Ax
The first film to not star Warwick Davis as the eponymous creature was meant to work as a reboot. A group of friends opt to vacation in Ireland and instead find themselves sacrificed to the monstrous Leprechaun by locals. This gruesome death, a gory highlight, marks the first not done at the hands of the creature at all. Well, not directly. The surviving friends set a trap for the Leprechaun, but he tricks them into killing one of their own instead. Poor Jeni takes a brutal ax to the face.
Leprechaun: Origins – Fatality
The Leprechaun takes a more hands-on approach to this gory kill, perhaps borrowing directly from Scorpion’s iconic fatality in Mortal Kombat. After catching Ben, one of the least empathetic Americans, the Leprechaun reaches through his back and rips out his spine. Fatality!
Leprechaun Returns – Solar Panel Bifurcation
Ignoring all franchise entries outside of the 1993 original, Leprechaun Returns is a direct sequel that picks up 25-years later. It also offers the goriest and most creative kills of the entire series. Sometimes going green can be deadly, especially in this franchise, as evidenced by the grisly bifurcation of Andy. The Leprechaun takes full advantage of anything and everything when it comes to weaponry, and he lets loose a rooftop solar panel so that it slips off and cuts its victim clean in half.
Leprechaun Returns – Poor Ozzie
Of all the deaths in the franchise, this one hurts the most. After outlasting and putting a stop to the pint-sized monster 25-years ago, Ozzie suffers from the affliction that plagues most returning horror survivors: Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome. In the first onscreen death of the film, Ozzie returns to the original well and gets doused in a green liquid from its depths, ingesting some in the process. It creates severe nausea and bloat, and he regurgitates a four-leaf clover that then allows the Leprechaun to respawn from within Ozzie’s body. Cue the rebirth, which involves bursting forth from Ozzie’s entrails. It’s a painful, gory way for one of the franchise’s sweetest original heroes to go out.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on March 17, 2020.