This Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day – what better time to watch some horror films about deadly monstrous leprechauns!
Luckily, we’ve got something brand spanking new this year – Leprechaun’s Revenge, debuting on the SyFy channel on, you guessed it, St. Patrick’s Day. We caught up with Drew Daywalt, to discuss his new feature film and fascinating new creature concept that takes us far far away from the mythical “old man” legend we’ve all become far too familiar with.
Stacy Buchanan: Can you tell us a bit about Leprechaun’s Revenge?
Drew Daywalt: Leprechaun’s Revenge is a quirky and entertaining monster romp in the spirit of Tremors or Creepshow as well as old 1950‘s Jack Arnold films like Creature from the Black Lagoon or Tarantula. Courtney Halverson does a fantastic job of carrying the film as a young woman who accidentally releases an evil leprechaun who then goes on a vengeful killing spree in her small New England town. We got Billy Zane (who’s awesome in this, btw) to play as her father, the hapless town sheriff who’s absolutely baffled by the murder scenes left in the homicidal leprechaun’s wake.
William (Rolling Thunder) Devane plays Courtney’s drunken grandfather, and the only person in town who seems to know what’s really going on, since he’s the only one who believes in fairies and goblins from the old country. It’s an absurd horror film really, and we had a good laugh making such an odd film. What really carries it is the mythology behind the creature and how the main characters have to solve the mystery to kill the thing.
It’s straight out of my early days as a kid playing D&D where there’s a quest and you have to get X, Y and Z and then use it to kill the monster. Unlike a lot of bad TV monster movies, there’s a lot of humor here, albeit subtly so, and we’re in on the joke with the audience — and that allowed us to make a film that didn’t insult their intelligence.
How did you get involved with the film and with SyFy?
DD: I was developing a really dark and horrific script with After Dark Films when they told me that Syfy had approved me to direct this other thing they had that was going right away. It was about a town caught up in its own dark history with a mythological creature, in this case a leprechaun. I read the script, it made me laugh and I thought, what the hell. I’ll try a creature feature. And we were off to the races.
The Leprechaun is so unique and different! Was it your vision to make it more of a creature and less of a mythical “old man”? If so, what was your inspiration?
DD: Thank you very much! It’s funny, my vision of this creature from the beginning was that our leprechaun is what a real Celtic goblin from ages past might look and act like, not a caricature of a Lucky Charms box. I went with the conceit, “What if they were real? And what if they were really dangerous and fought the druids and lived in the woods like trolls or ogres or orcs.” So from there, the design followed and so did the mythology. We had a lot of fun with the creature – it bleeds green, it’s repulsed by lucky horseshoes the way a vampire is crucifixes. The mythology is fun and light on the one hand and intricately woven in on the other.
I’m so proud of the creature design. But I knew that on this schedule and with this budget that a fully CGI creature would look like shit, and would never do Jacob’s great design work justice, so I brought in my friend and favorite physical fx monster designer Jeff Farley to redo the design so that it could be a suit for an actor. I knew that an intelligent audience would forgive problems with a physical creature much more easily than they would crappy TV CG. Hopefully,
I’m right. The only CG that we used was on two action shots and they’re fast. The other CG was just used to enhance the physical mask – to make the brows furl and the eyes blink, nostril flares… small stuff. I like when CG is integrated into physical fx to blur the lines – to enhance the actual physical creature.
There seems to be some confusion regarding Leprechaun’s Revenge and its relationship with the popular Leprechaun horror franchise. Was any inspiration drawn from the franchise for your film?
DD: Ha, yeah… I’ve been getting that a lot lately. The comparison is inevitable, so I totally understand that, but there’s a funny story there. When I came on board, the Anthony C. Ferrante script was titled St. Patrick’s Day, so I never saw it as similar to the Warwick Davis Leprechaun films. The story’s different, and the creature was entirely different.
In our film, the Lucky Charms style leprechaun is something that people have panted over the years to hide the horrors of what real leprechauns of old were really like. During production, the script was retitled RED CLOVER because no agent in town was going to give their client a script called “Leprechaun’s Revenge”.
Not only is a bad title, but it apes the actual Leprechaun franchise, and not in a good way. But somewhere along the way, they changed the title from Red Clover to Leprechaun’s Revenge and now the cast and I have been burdened with having to repeatedly explain that “No, this is not part of the Leprechaun series,” and “No, Warwick Davis is not in the film.” The entire cast and crew is very disappointed and feeling a little duped at this point, and the horror crowd is smart. You guys are all seeing right through what’s been done and you’re not responding to it well either.
At the end of the day, though, what we do have here is a very entertaining and unique film on its own merits. I’m not sure why anyone would feel the need to latch on to a different franchise title like that.
What’s next for you? Any new projects in the pipeline?
DD: I have a couple things lined up, but I’m not allowed to talk about them in detail yet. One is a very dark ghost story that I wrote and will be directing later this year. It’s dark and layered and complex. It’s fun to dig in to something really dark and heavy after doing something like this that’s so light and entertaining.
What’s your favorite horror movie?
DD: I’d have to say 1963’s THE HAUNTING based on the Shirley Jackson novel, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. That film has minimal fx and to this day it scares the living hell out of me. I have to give a close second to Kubrick’s THE SHINING. Both films play on slow creeping dread, and that’s really truly my favorite kind of horror.
Leprechaun’s Revenge premieres on the SyFy channel on Saturday, March 17th, at 9pm. Catch a glimpse here: