by Joe Bursley
The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte’s editorial board.
St. Patrick’s Day is a holy feast celebration dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, who is known for eradicating snakes from Ireland and explaining the Christian holy trinity using a three-leaf clover. However, like any good religious celebration, St. Patrick’s Day has been cheapened and warped by consumerism and secular culture, leading to a holiday mostly known for drinking alcohol, wearing green, eating beef and cabbage, and buying Shamrock Shakes. The most peculiar and prominent imagery from St. Patrick’s Day happens to be the leprechaun, a fantastical Irish fairy dressed in green and concerned about gold and luck. There have been many iterations of the lucky little Irishman in popular culture, ranging all the way from the iconic to the indistinct.
Lubdan the Leprechaun (“Leprechaun” film series)
An 8-film comedy/horror saga that follows an evil leprechaun who tortures people who take and spend his gold. This leprechaun has hunted his treasure from Ireland to North Dakota to Las Vegas to an alien spaceship to the hood twice. Personally, if I were that dedicated to my personal gold, I would keep it in a Swiss safety deposit box
The O’Reilly Family (“Luck of the Irish,” 2001)
A privileged white male who has found general success in school, sports, and life is finally brought back down to size when he loses his family’s lucky medallion. And by brought down to size, I mean he starts shrinking and turning into a leprechaun, red hair and pointy ears and all. We never get to see his transformation complete, as the entire special effects budget was used to make his mom look six inches tall. In order to win his family’s luck back, he must defeat another evil leprechaun in basketball for the magical medallion. Yeah, this was a classic Disney Channel Original Movie from my childhood, but it certainly was no High School Musical.
The Leprechaun (“Red Clover,” 2012)
Hollywood must be afraid of leprechauns because there is yet another horror film centered around the mythical creatures, though one that does not have 7 others in its franchise. The made-for-TV movie follows a woman in a sleepy town who unwittingly releases a murderous leprechaun from an interdimensional prison. The leprechaun resumes his murder spree, and it is up to the woman and her father, the town’s sheriff, to end the creature’s rampage.
Seamus, Mary, and Mickey Muldoon (“The Magical Legend of Leprechauns,” 2000)
Break out the tissues and chocolates, because Hallmark has made a cheesy movie about leprechauns, involving clichéd tropes such as love at first sight, underdogs fighting corporatism, and…interspecies magical warfare? Seamus is a leprechaun who befriends a human, Jack, for saving his life, revealing the magical world of Irish mythical creatures. His son Mickey falls in love with a fairy-princess named Jessica, who are able to end the blood feud between their kind by a suicide pact a la Romeo and Juliet. Alas, even the most original Hallmark movie will fall to repeated tropes.
Lepkey the Leprechaun (“Getting Lucky,” 1990)
A teenage dork sets out to score a date with his cheerleader crush using three wishes from a drunk leprechaun he found in a beer bottle. No, I’m not kidding, that is the synopsis. Cheesy acting and a corny premise are succulent toppings to this indie sex comedy, which is anything but safe for work. But hey, having sex and getting drunk are practically staples of the modern St. Patrick’s Day holiday so I guess it fits.
Surprisingly there aren’t that many iconic leprechauns portrayed in films, despite the iconic imagery and thematic imagery that enable movies about Santa Claus or Halloween monsters come out almost once a year. Perhaps it’s because St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have the cultural impact that Christmas or Halloween do. Maybe it’s because having a character whose base trait is being lucky makes for a pretty uninteresting conflict and story. Or maybe it’s just because the effects and mythology details needed to make a decent leprechaun movie outweigh the desire from audiences to watch one on the big screen. So, if you’re like me and looking for a leprechaun movie to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in lieu of bar hopping…it looks like it’s pretty slim pickings.
Featured Image: Tt Shinkan
Joe is a sophomore Telecommunications major at Ball State. Joe’s focus at Byte is writing and editing for the Features section. After graduation, Joe hopes to work as a producer at a news studio and eventually publish a book or two.