Leprechaun Celebrates its 29th Anniversary: Here’s Why it’s a Cult Classic

Critics panned the film, which was Jennifer Aniston’s big-screen debut, upon its release in 1993, but has since established a cult following. In fact, Leprechaun was such a cult hit that the movie gave rise to an entire franchise centred around the dangerous leprechaun referred to as Lubdan. Today, there are eight films in the series. The latest instalment, Leprechaun Returns, was released in 2018. 

So, what is it about the Leprechaun film series that has caused it to gain cult status and spawn a multi-decade long franchise? Why did people nearly 30 years later celebrate the original film’s anniversary? Perhaps it’s because of the movie’s soundtrack, which was composed by Kevin Kiner, best known for scoring Making a Murderer and CSI: Miami. Or, perhaps it has more to do with the film’s villain himself.

An Instant Classic

Every great cult horror classic has an even better villain. One who, even after multiple films, still has a way of creeping into your mind long after the closing credits. Typically, it’s the villains that pair their evil charisma with humorous behaviours (smiling, telling jokes, etc.) that get under our skin, such as Freddy Krueger and Ghostface from Wes Craven’s meta-horror slasher franchise Scream. Lubdan in Mark Jones’ Leprechaun franchise is like these characters, bringing tongue-in-cheek elements into an otherwise gory and terrifying movie.

It’s Seasonal

On a more obvious note, the Leprechaun film series has become a cult classic because it’s a holiday-themed franchise. Even decades after the original film’s release, the Syfy cable channel still plays all the movies in the series on St. Patrick’s Day. Entertainment focusing on this holiday is limited, which is why it’s not just the Leprechaun series that gets annual attention, but any movie or game that has Irish themes.

For example, Leap Year, released in 2010 and slated by film critics, has achieved cult status and is regularly watched around St. Patrick’s Day. Similarly, the Rainbow Riches slot game by Barcrest is still one of the most beloved casino games in countries like the United Kingdom, even though the game was originally released in the 2000s. The slot game features a mischievous leprechaun, gold coins, and rainbows, making it one of the few games with St. Patrick’s Day themes that have lasted decades in the mainstream market. 

A Star Was Born

Lastly, Leprechaun was Jennifer Aniston’s film debut. Following the film’s release, the actress found international fame starring as Rachel Green in the television sitcom Friends (1994-2004). However, many movie buffs like to go back to Leprechaun to see how Aniston’s film career has progressed.

Today, Aniston is one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors, and reports suggest that movies with her in the leading role tend to gross over $1 billion worldwide. But, like most actors, Aniston had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was a campy horror movie that turned into a cult classic. Interestingly, multiple actors have gone down this route. For instance, Drew Barrymore, who, albeit had been acting for years, was in Wes Craven’s original Scream (1996) movie, a young Johnny Depp starred in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and Kevin Bacon played Jack Burrell in Friday the 13th (1980).

29 years later, the original Leprechaun film is still considered a cult classic, spawning a commercially successful franchise that last put out a film in 2018. Between the seasonality of the film and the evil but humorous antagonist, we see the film world continuing to celebrate this horror comedy for many more years.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 12605 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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