Elves Movie Review
Written by Robert Gold
Written and Directed by Jeffrey Mandel
1989, 89 minutes, Rated R
VHS released on December 19th, 1994
Dan Haggerty as Mike McGavin
Julie Austin as Kirsten
Deanna Lund as Kirsten’s mother
Borah Silver as Gramps
Christopher Graham as Willy
Kirsten (Julie Austin) lives a dysfunctional life with her wicked mother, perverted little brother and wheelchair-bound Nazi grandfather. She works the lunch counter at Golem’s department store and is being smothered by the chaos of the holiday season. Feeling decidedly anti-Christmas, she goes into the forest with her friends Brooke and Amy to perform a ceremony that will help them understand boys and to feel superior to the local residents. Kirsten cuts her hand and decides the ritual isn’t worth the effort, so everyone just goes home. What the girls do not realize is that the blood awakens an evil beast buried within the woods.
Upon returning home, Kirsten is slapped around by Gramps (Borah Silver) for taking one of his books and entering the forbidden forest. She runs upstairs to shower and is soon met by her 8-year old brother Willy (Christopher Graham), who exclaims “You’ve got fucking big tits, and I’m going to tell everyone that I saw them!” Her mother (Deanna Lund) isn’t very supportive either — in fact she murders Kirsten’s cat and buries it in the yard, simply because she is a bitch. Later, Willy is attacked by the woods elf that has followed Kirsten home. He calls for help against what he dubs the “fucking ninja troll” in his room, but the family only sees an open window and dismisses his claims, despite his bleeding shoulder wound.
Mike (Dan Haggerty) was once a police detective, but his alcoholism finds him looking for work at Golem’s department store. Nobody is hiring, as times are tough, so he returns home to find that he has been evicted…from his trailer. Meanwhile, Kirsten is fondled by Santa at work, but luckily the woods elf has followed her and when Santa goes into the back for some cocaine, the man is castrated by the monster and dies on the floor.
Returning to the department store for coffee and donuts, Mike is given a job as a replacement Santa. The dressing room in the back is still marked by a chalk outline where the last Santa died and Mike discovers a symbol on the floor nearby. His detective skills are tingling and he decides it will be perfectly acceptable for him to live in his dressing room until this mystery is solved.
The plot thickens as we learn that the origin of elves dates back to Noah’s ark, and that the Nazis were experimenting with cross-breeding elves with teenage virgins of Aryan descent in order to create super soldiers. This mating ritual must occur at midnight on Christmas Eve in the year 1989. Oh, if only all prophecies could be that specific!
Mike returns to his dressing room/apartment and is surprised when he discovers Kirsten and her friends having a sleepover at work later that evening. They agree not to disturb each other, but the Nazis missed that part of the deal and interrupt everything. Luckily Golem’s keeps loaded guns in unlocked display cases, and Mike is able to participate in a pretty lackluster shootout. The elf is lurking around the store for good measure and soon Mike and Kirsten are on the run.
Kirsten learns that she is the intended virgin bride, and that Gramps is actually her father. The confessions continue as it turns out that Gramps really was a Nazi, but after reading the Bible he discovered that the hybrid elf child would actually be the antichrist and he had a change of heart. Soon both the elf and the Nazis arrive and mayhem ensues.
Elves is a terrible film with a far-out B-movie concept throwing everything into the script but nothing into the budget. The first thing audiences may want to watch out for is the fact that despite what the title implies, there is only one elf and it looks like dookie. The puppet has zero facial movement and is shown way too often.
The script travels so far over the top that it is hard to throw any blame at the actors who make the most of a laughable situation. Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams) is miscast as the most laid-back action hero, lethargic to the point of appearing asleep while chain-smoking through every scene. Deanna Lund (Land of the Giants) is sufficiently cunty as the mother with a heart of coal, and Christopher Graham is excellent as the creepy little brother obsessed with his sister’s nudity.
Director Jeffrey Mandel has created a midnight movie so perplexing that one must conclude that every time a creative decision had to be made the wrong answer was given. The end product is so bizarre that it is hard to believe any other result would be possible, yet everyone on-screen appears completely sincere in the effort to tell this story.
Elves succeeds at sucking despite the enthusiasm of cast and crew, and has been banished to a place where movies do not see a proper video release. The original VHS is long out-of-print and suffered from a miserable transfer, but an official DVD release never followed. There is an audience for this movie, largely due to the outlandish plot and highly quotable dialogue. Sadly the film is more of a disappointment if it is too fondly remembered, and I am granting an extra half star for absurdity and nostalgia.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded.
Day nine of Robert Gold's "12 Days of Christmas".
Day 2: To All a Good Night
Day 3: Silent Night, Deadly Night 2
Day 4: Jaws: The Revenge
Day 5: Christmas Evil
Day 7: Santa Claws
Day 9: Elves
Day 10: Dead End
Day 11: Santa's Slay
Day 12: Black Christmas (1974)