Welcome to Script to Pieces, a recurring feature at Wicked Horror where we look at the best, most interesting and at times most unbelievable horror movies that never happened. Sometimes these will be productions that never came together at all, other times, they will be original incarnations that were completely different from what we wound up with. Each should be fascinating in its own way, because the stories of movies that never see the light of day can sometimes be even more interesting than the stories of those that do.
The Leprechaun franchise is not often held in high regard among horror filmmakers. When writers or directors are asked about their bucket list picks for series they would love to work in, you generally hear them say that they might want to make a Halloween or a Nightmare on Elm Street movie. But not Darren Lynn Bousman. When he finished his run on the Saw series and moved onto Repo! The Genetic Opera he was asked a lot about what he would like to tackle next, and he always had an answer.
“I would do Leprechaun in a second. If Lionsgate is listening, give me Leprechaun,” Bousman said in a 2008 interview with MTV. He even went on to explain his pitch. “Back to the old west. You send him in a time machine and transport him to the old west. There are gold rushes. There are gunfights. It’s awesome! I have the whole thing already worked out!”
Although it’s admittedly puzzling that Bousman would put the Leprechaun in a time machine when he’s a thousand years old and was definitely around during the gold rush, but then again, time travel just seems par for the course for this franchise.
Speaking to why he wanted to do Leprechaun of all franchises, Bousman said, “It’s just one of those fun popcorn movies. I would love to bring back the fun popcorn movie – extreme violence, extreme absurdity – but make it fun. My version wouldn’t be horror.”
Of course, Bousman’s Leprechaun never quite came to pass. The WWE, in partnership with Lionsgate, instead crafted a reboot in the form of Leprechaun Origins. They made their disdain for every entry in the series clear, including the original. They voiced a plan to strip the concept of its inherent humor and attempted to make a truly terrifying movie about a killer Leprechaun. It went about as well as you might expect.
But even as of 2015, Bousman had not given up hope for his Leprechaun idea. “You make it jokey – it’s f**king Leprechaun! How do you make that scary? What made the first one so awesome to me is how over the top and ridiculous it is. You can have scares in it, absolutely, and make it macabre, absolutely, but I think trying to terrify someone with a Leprechaun is kind of hard. For me, I want to make Leprechaun fun again. I want it to be one of those movies you high five your friends during. I’m not trying to terrify you with Hornswoggle. But I’m sure he was great.”
It seems unlikely that we’ll see Bousman’s movie at this point. In fact, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see another entry in the Leprechaun saga. The failure of Leprechaun Origin seems to have killed the franchise for good. There’s been no word on another entry. Warwick Davis was recast with wrestler Hornswaggle, who didn’t get to deliver much of a performance as he played a suited monster with no lines.
Despite Origin following Davis’s successful TV series with Ricky Gervais, Life’s Too Short, it was not his decision not to come back for another Leprechaun. As the producers at WWE were not fans of his portrayal in any of the previous films and wanted to take the series in a completely new direction, he was recast without ever actually meeting on the project.
Had the series continued, Davis had his own ideas for what he would have liked to have seen in it. His version would have played almost like the Nutty Professor of Leprechaun flicks, as it would introduce us to the Lep’s entire family, all of whom would be played by Davis as well. That idea, similarly to Bousman’s gold rush, seems too absurd to pass up.
But sadly neither one happened, and I think Leprechaun Origin is what we’re going to have to make due with.