Candyman Vs Leprechaun Could've Happened, But Tony Todd Said No

Jeff McQueen's 2006 documentary film "Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film" goes into great detail as to what made a good slasher and dives deep into the genre's cultural meaning and impact. It also argues that the genre was petering out by the late 1980s, as endless sequels were making slashers' once-comforting banality seem less and less appealing. The early 1990s would have been the ideal time to bid the genre farewell with the on-screen conflict every gorehound wanted to see: Freddy Krueger from Wes Craven's 1984 film "A Nightmare on Elm Street" fighting Jason Voorhees from Sean Cunningham's 1980 film "Friday the 13th." 

And while rumors circulated about "Nightmare Friday," new notable horror villains began appearing in slasher movie's waning ebb, particularly the eponymous Candyman from Bernard Rose's 1992 film, and the eponymous Leprechaun from Mark Jones' 1993 film. The former was critically lauded, the latter was not. 

It would take until 2003 for "Freddy vs. Jason" to grace big screens. The heat had died down on the slasher genre, but nostalgia was riding high, and Ronny Yu's massive macabre mashup proved to be an enormous hit, making $116 million on a $30 million budget. The success of a horror movie with "Vs." in the title — a practice usually reserved for Godzilla movies and universal monster flicks — began the Hollywood speculation machine humming, and many other potential monster mashes were floated. "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash" was planned, but dropped. And, it seems, someone somewhere suggested that "Candyman vs. Leprechaun" should be made into a feature film. 

Perhaps mercifully, "Candyman" star Tony Todd rejected the idea, a stance he made clear in a 2019 interview with Dread Central.

Candyman vs. Leprechaun? Really?

Dread Central, in talking to Todd, brought up a rumor that Bernard Rose had been approached by ... someone ... about the possibility of a fight between two of the most famous movie monsters of the early 1990s. It was certainly an odd idea. Candyman was an urban legend who, once a murdered artist from the 19th-century South, manifested in Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects the wreak revenge. The Leprechaun (played by Warwick Davis) was, well, a leprechaun who escaped from a basement prison to find his gold, polish shoes, murder people, and make atrocious jokes. "Candyman" was a contemplative, almost funereal film. "Leprechaun" was unapologetic, comedic matinee trash.

Todd confirms that the Candyman vs. Leprechaun idea was indeed pitched to him sometime after the release of "Freddy vs. Jason." It seemed that the tone of project, however, was to be more silly and comedic along the lines of the "Leprechaun" movies, a detail Todd rejected. In his words:

"This was right around the time of 'Freddy vs. Jason' and ['Candyman vs. Leprechaun'] did come across my desk. I saw it and I said, 'I will never be involved in something like that.' I respect the character. Once a horror character becomes something of an icon [like Candyman], reluctantly or not, you have to treat that with respect that."

Todd understands that the Candyman has gained a great deal of cultural significance. The most recent "Candyman" sequel, released in 2021 and also called "Candyman," saw a great deal of sociological context laid upon the character, transforming him from something specific into a universal symbol of Black pain. Carvell Wallace wrote very eloquently on the film for the Atlantic in 2021. 

Candyman is not a comedy

"Leprechaun," meanwhile, has not been the subject of a great deal of sociological scrutiny. Indeed, the "Leprechaun" movies — and there have been eight to date — are often laughed at for their sheer absurdity. This is a series of films that saw a folkloric Irish imp murder magician in Las Vegas and face off against mutants in space. In two separate films, the Leprechaun visited South Central Los Angeles. Perhaps someone figured that if the Leprechaun can visit modern cities like L.A., then surely he would fit into Chicago, home of Cabrini-Green? The connection is tenuous at best. Also, "Leprechaun in the Hood" is an aggressively terrible movie. 

Todd, now 68, did acknowledge that adding a comedic tone to otherwise serious monster movies has proven successful in the past. As a child, Todd watched Frankenstein's monster and his ilk face off against the most famous comedians of 1948. "Candyman," he felt, wasn't quite the same kind of fit to Abbott and Costello, however. He said: 

"I remember watching 'Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein' continuously as a kid and being amazed that my horror legends were making a comedy. So, I guess there are some ways to make something like that work, but I wasn't interested in doing that with Candyman."

Davis, now 52, has not commented on whether or not he would have been interested in playing the Leprechaun in a Candyman fight movie. Anyone who has seen his "Leprechaun" movies, however, can attest to the actor's gameness. He appears to be having a blast every time. The project at large, though, was strange from the word jump, and is likely going to pass into the realm of Hollywood urban legend.