Just when you thought every possible holiday had been exhausted for slasher films — from "My Bloody Valentine" to "Silent Night, Deadly Night" — along comes one that's just in time for St. Patrick's Day: "Leprechaun."

What's left? Killer trees in "The Arbor Day Massacre"?

Writer-director Mick Jones — who should go back to his day job — tries for a darkly comic, if perverse, twist on "Darby O'Gill and the Little People," with a lethal leprechaun (played by "Willow's" Warwick Davis, under tons of makeup) who is more like Chucky the doll in "Child's Play" than the jolly imp of the Lucky Charms cereal commercials.

The opening scene has the 600-year-old leprechaun sitting in the dark, counting the booty in his pot o' gold. Then the action abruptly shifts to a drunken Irishman named O'Grady at his home in North Dakota where he is greeted by his wife as he returns from his mother's funeral. On the porch, he breaks what appears to be an urn, takes out a bag of gold and explains that he stole it from a leprechaun.

The leprechaun, who has apparently come with him, kills O'Grady's wife. But O'Grady, using a four-leaf clover as if it were a crucifix for a vampire, traps the leprechaun in a crate in the basement.

The film jumps forward 10 years and now a single father and his spoiled city daughter are moving into O'Grady's rural North Dakota house. And as you can most certainly guess, the crate is still in the basement and the leprechaun gets out and goes after the girl and her father, as well as a handsome young handyman and a pair of comic bungling house painters.

The rest of the film is pretty much the same old thing, by-the-numbers killings with no rhyme or reason. The only twists are some ill-advised slapstick as the leprechaun looks for creative ways to do in his hapless victims — someone is pogo-sticked to death, another has an eye plucked out of his head, etc.

In fact, Jones is so bereft of inventive ideas that he refers to Lucky Charms cereal not once but three times! His big gag is having the leprechaun eat a handful only to spit it out.

"Leprechaun" is a cheapjack horror yarn of the type we got regularly about 10 years ago but don't very often see anymore. These days, they tend to go straight to video.

This one should go skip video and go straight to the recycling bin.

"Leprechaun" is rated R for considerable violence and gore, along with some profanity.