The Lionsgate Walmart-exclusive horror SteelBook collection continues to grow with Leprechaun Collection 1-8. All eight films are bundled together in one convenient package, this again is a simple redressing of the previous 7-Film Blu-ray with extra room for Leprechaun Returns. The films may vary in quality, but the originals with Warwick Davis were the best of the bunch by far. Transfers are decent enough and there’s a fairly good assortment of extras to make this SteelBook appealing beyond just the artwork. For Fans Only
Amazingly enough we never actually reviewed any of the Leprechaun films on Blu-ray. As much of a fan of the series as I am, it’s not really much of a loss or oversight. You either enjoy the various Leprechaun films, or you don’t really want to have anything to do with them. For my dollars, the first four, Leprechaun, Leprechaun 2, Leprechaun 3, and Leprechaun 4: In Space are the best of the bunch. To that end, I’ve got to show extra love for Brian Trenchard-Smith’s latter two installments. Low budget, a wicked sense of humor, and plenty of gore, with Warwick Davis clearly having a blast hamming it up with every kill.
After dominating video rental shelves for years, Davis returned to the franchise with a “fresh” take with Leprechaun In The Hood and Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood. Again these films aren’t high art by any means and even by the time they went into space (much like Jason did), the series was already stretched pretty damn thin. But the Hood flicks were a fun staple during my days jockeying a college campus convenience store counter. I closed Friday nights and we had a small video rental selection, and unless they were rented I would somehow always end up putting one of those two flicks on. It was a fun way to entertain people looking for a snack or who wandered in after hitting the beer pong tables too hard.
Then came the woeful WWE-funded Leprechaun Origins and the surprisingly entertaining Leprechaun Returns. What can I say that you haven’t guessed already - no Warwick Davis, no real point. Origins was just woefully bad and a sad try to keep some Irish-themed horror going so the IP didn’t completely die. Now to be fair, even without Davis in the buckle, Leprechaun Returns is actually pretty decent. While Davis is indispensable to the franchise, Lindon Porco did a pretty good job. Manborg director Steven Kostanski brought a fun energy back to a franchise that had felt long stale and dried out. And until the next film (apparently there is another film on the way), this selection of 8-films may not be everyone’s favorite pot of gold, but it’s entertaining. I’ll be blunt, it helps if you’ve smoked a blunt before popping one of these discs in your player. Or a swift hit of your favorite Irish whiskey will do the trick.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Lionsgate etches out another stylish Walmart-exclusive SteelBook release this time for the (currently 8-films) Leprechaun Collection. A five-disc set, Leprechaun and Leprechaun 2 share a disc. Leprechaun 3 and Leprechaun 4 share a disc. The two Hood films share a disc with Origins and Returns scoring their own respective discs. The discs are housed in the SteelBook with two, multi-disc trays, so the discs are stacked to some degree.
Without really giving them too much TLC, Lionsgate did an okay job with the first four films. Older masters, they look better than old DVDs and their original VHS runs, but they’re not exactly shiny examples of HD either. Details and colors are decent, edge enhancement and other compression anomalies are a frequent friend of each of the first four films. By the time we get to the two Hood films, things look a bit better. Again nothing anyone would argue as reference quality, but respectable all the same. Likewise, Origins looks pretty good considering it’s generally a bad movie and most of the visuals are pretty uninspired. Leprechaun Returns comes out looking the best of the bunch with a transfer that shows some sort of an attempt at care and attention was made. It might not be a great film, but it at least looks good.
The Leprechaun films aren’t exactly stunning auditory entries either. The first six films coast by with effective enough DTS-HD MA 2.0 tracks. Could these films sound better with 5.1 tracks or even *gasp* an Atmos track? Sure - but that would mean putting a ton of effort into the Leprechaun films and I just don’t see (or rather hear) that happening any time soon. For what they are, these 2.0 tracks get the job done nicely. Dialog - such as it is - works well and is clean. Scoring doesn’t exactly do much with suspense or terror but actually highlights a lot of the humor. But if you want a little proof that the early Leprechaun films could sound better, you can listen to the 5.1 tracks for Origins and Return. While Origins isn’t anything to write home about as a feature film, the audio mix actually works well for it. Returns is again the highlight here because some amount of care and attention was paid to the sound design so the 5.1 track provides a solid amount of immersion with clean dialog and a creepy sonic ambiance. Not stunning examples of sonic fidelity or anything you’d want to demo your home setup for, but they get the job done.
Leave it to Lionsgate to produce a rather shocking amount of bonus features for this release. I gues it helped the first six films were popped onto DVD when people and studios still gave a damn about some interesting bonus features because there's a lot here. Each film gets at least one commentary with a little behind-the-scenes material for flavor. The latter two sequels also get their fair share of interesting extras - but to be honest I don't really want to learn more about Leprechaun Origins. All the same this is hours of content to dig into and more than most franchises ever get so kudos to Lionsgate on that score.
Leprechaun 4: In Space
Leprechaun In The Hood
Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood
We were given one Leprechaun movie that introduced the world to the cute charms of Jennifer Anniston and the hilariously devilish humor of Warwick Davis. That might have been enough. Several sequels later - with apparently more on the way - the Leprechaun franchise has endured for 30 years! Hardly the standard bearers for high-art cinema, one can’t deny they’re fun as hell. Especially if you’ve had a few hits of your favorite controlled substance. I still hold the first four as rental classics because they are just so damn nutty. The adventures to tha hood were fun and the show could have stopped there. With Origins, we don't really need that one, but if had all stopped with that WWE-infused prequel, we wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy the modestly entertaining Leprechaun Returns. Lionsgate more or less repackages all of their old discs for this set so unless you really like the SteelBook art you’re all set. For Fans Only