Chris Mills is the founder of Great Stories and sometimes blogger. He enjoys coffee, hockey, strategy games, traveling with his wife, and tracking the movements of his favorite vigilante.
I know it has been a while since I have written a proper blog here at Great Stories. But I was moved to write this little piece after experiencing some disappointment in some recent movie choices. Netflix streaming services have been a blessing for movie fanatics, such as me. There is never a shortage of choices, and new content being added every week. Horror movies, in particular, are always in plentiful supply. So after I cheated on Netflix by renting Jupiter Ascending at a local Redbox (that movie was just dreadful), I had to make good with movie partner by settling in for an immediate screen of Leprechaun: Origins. One of the finest horror movie franchises ever made, the Leprechaun series is known as the playground for the wonderfully talented Warwick Davis (the first ever little person leading man in Hollywood)!
His comedic delivery and charisma rivals that of his contemporary Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. The result? A movie villain that you find hard to route against! Yes, while Davis has made a career of dispatching pesky greed hounds trying to get his gold, he is without a doubt both the protagonist and antagonist of every movie. Quite the conundrum for those people who like to square things away in tidy little categorical boxes, but for those of us who just enjoy B-rated cinema, it is sheer delight. OK, back on point about the latest sequel. With the wife sitting in a Dean College classroom, the TV was mine, and I was not to be denied. Hitting the play icon, I sunk back in my seat for another fun romp with a wise-cracking Irish mythical menace, when I suddenly spied the words WWE Films on my screen. NO NO NO NO NO NO! Have they ever produced anything approaching decent quality? I think not! But, it’s alright. My man Warwick was going to set things right with his wit, passion for the role, and on-screen presence…..but wait. No mention of him in the opening credits. Could it be? Yes, they did it. They made a Leprechaun movie without the ingredient that made this series so wonderful. How could you WWE? I soldiered on, however, and watched the catastrophe unfold before my eyes. And by the time the credits rolled, Leprechaun: Origins had not so much undone a franchise, as it had revealed itself as some inferior cinematic doppleganger, lacking any of the endearing charms (lucky or not!) of the previous entries. The other films did not take themselves too seriously, and as a viewer, that disarming quality can allow one to bask in the sugary and not so nutritious type of film without any trace of guilt. The fact that the makers of Origins did not retain the sense of humor or the iconic character is not so much the crime, however. It is doing all of this and then having the audacity to slap the Leprechaun franchise tag on the whole affair is where I take most umbrage. Had they made their own movie under a different title, I may have actually enjoyed this one far more. Is this a reasonable position, or perhaps just some middle-aged movie tantrum? Who knows? But my head and heart are certainly aligned on this one.
WWE and Leprechaun: Origins are far from alone in this criticism. Horror cinema is chock full of franchises that churn out sequel after sequel on relatively short money, milking their creative properties for all they are worth. And more often than not, the artistic integrity suffers. Quantity over quality is far too often the modus operandi. Leigh Wannell and James Wan created a masterpiece in the movie Saw, but the series has (in my opinion) been dragged into the depths of repetition and cheap gore-induced shock horror. Properties like Poltergeist, Friday the 13th and Nightmare of Elm St have been resurrected by studios intent to seize upon recognizable trademarks with proven commercial success without really telling any new stories and “re-making” what should have just been left alone. And it is all too rare to have a horror franchise release a sequel that meets or exceeds the standard set by the forerunner (Aliens, 28 Weeks Later, and Phantasm 2 being examples of those aforementioned rarities).
Picking on horror films is easy…there are plenty of obvious targets to be had. I say this as a huge fan of the genre. I am perfectly willing to sit through many bad movies to find the diamonds in the rough. I just want to see film-makers have a bit more respect for their viewing audience as they go about their job. Horrors (along with their polar-opposite romantic comedies) may be the least-respected genre of film to the critics out there, but there is no reason for the artists and creators to put the exclamation point on the punch line. The fans don’t care what they (the critics) have to say anyway, so it is my hope that when the next studio decides to cash in on a name, they exhibit a small ounce of integrity by not changing the characteristics that best define that intellectual properties success. Oops….too late!
As I write this, news has broken of a remake of Stephen King’s Cujo. The new movie will be entitled C.U.J.O. (Canine Unit Joint Operations). Seriously….this is what I am talking about Hollywood! King’s chilling story of a neighborhood pet driven mad by rabies seems to be getting the very poor Ally Sheedy “Man’s Best Friend” treatment. Stephen King can’t be happy about this, can he?
I would love to hear your thoughts!