Elves (Movie Review) The Best Worst Eighties Holiday Horror Movie You’ve Probably Never Seen (But Really Need To!)

Starring Dan Haggerty, Ten Thousand Cigarettes, Julie Austin, Deanna Lund, Borah Silver, and a Horny Nazi Demon Elf Puppet

Written and directed by Jeffrey Mandel

Elves is awful.

Elves is awesome.

Elves is truly one-of-a-kind, for better and worse.

If this is the first you’ve ever heard of Elves, then allow me to introduce you to the Troll 2 of holiday horror movies. There are no reasonable standards by which this movie could ever or should ever be considered because it is anything but. Everything about this Christmas schlocktacular is off in precisely the way great trash cinema should be. What this low budget 1989 obscurity lacks in the acting, directing, scripting, and special effects departments, it more than makes up for with sheer balls-out audacity.

Elves is the only movie in existence about a chain-smoking ex-cop turned department store Santa who has to save a virginal teenage girl from her family of incestuous Nazis that want to breed her with a horny, knife-wielding, pistol-packin’, demonic, two-foot elf in order to impregnate her with the master race’s Antichrist. That has to count for something.

By audacity I also mean distastefulness bordering on being downright sleazy. We are talking about a movie that features a small boy peeping on his naked sister as she showers, their mentally unstable mother putting a cat in a pillowcase and drowning it in a toilet, and a lecherous, cocaine-snorting, department store Santa groping an underage female employee, flipping off another young woman, and then getting castrated to death when the elf stabs his groin repeatedly with a kitchen knife.

And that’s just the first 15 minutes!

We haven’t even gotten to the stuff involving incest, Nazi eugenics experiments, deranged elflore, and the realization that the entire plot is about a teen virgin trying not to get raped by a horny mongoloid elf.

At this point you’re probably wondering the same thing I am — how is this not a Troma movie?

Elves would probably have more of a cult following today if more people even knew it exists. It was only ever released on VHS, and that was all the way back in 1989. Even back in the early Nineties this would have been considered a lower-tier rental offering from a small but briefly prolific outfit known as A.I.P. No, not the legendary American International Pictures that gave us Roger Corman and more or less shaped the course of cinematic history with their emphasis on populist genre flicks. No, this A.I.P. is Action International Pictures, a company that could best be described as the poor man’s Cannon Pictures. Actually, they’re more like the homeless man’s Cannon. Make that the homeless veteran hunted for sport version of Cannon. This A.I.P.’s most infamous offering is the all-time bad action movie masterpiece Deadly Prey.

Much like that unhinged work of schlock art, Elves is also overdue to be rediscovered by bad movie enthusiasts and those that just want a reason to gawk at a viewing screen in utter disbelief at what they are seeing and hearing. The way things are going of late with oddball obscure genre flicks getting hi-def upgrades, I wouldn’t be shocked if a company like Vinegar Syndrome or Scorpion or Code Red were to announce a Blu-ray any moment now. This one is just too wacko to continue to go ignored for as long as it has. It’s time for Elves to get some proper lovin’. But preferably not lovin’ with a purebred Aryan virgin because, well, keep reading.

Our heroine Kirsten is just your average teenage girl with average teenage girl problems: She’s a virgin being pressured to have sex despite claiming she wants to save it for someone special, her kid brother is kind of a pervert, her mother is a total mental case, and her wheelchair-bound grandfather is also her father. As if being the product of incestuous inbreeding weren’t bad enough, Gramps is also a Nazi.

The Nazis, you see, were big into both the occult and eugenics. Kirsten is a purebred Aryan female virgin, and it just so happens that they need a purebred Aryan female virgin to mate with a tiny malformed elf by Christmas Eve to impregnate her with the Fourth Reich Antichrist that will grow up to conquer the world.

Contrary to the film’s title, there is only one elf. I don’t know if that’s because the measly budget could barely afford the single elf prop as it is or because then there would be more than one elf wanting to impregnate Kirsten and the producers decided an elvish gangbang was a line even they weren’t willing to cross.

Kirsten and her two BFFs disobey wheelchair-bound crankshaft Gramps and go out into the woods behind the house to recreate their favorite scenes from The Craft, inadvertently unleashing the demonic elf he’s kept buried in the backyard for decades for, I don’t know, safe keeping? It makes more sense if you actually see the movie. Not much sense, mind you.

Only one thing stands between the Nazi elf and Kirsten’s untapped womb… actually, two things —

The first is the fact that the elf may not even be physically capable of mating since it is almost exclusively a puppet-on-a-stick. The arms and head have minimal articulation and the creature’s crooked mouth looks to be frozen open. Rarely do you ever see the elf from the waist down, and when you do, all you get is a shot of an arm here or some legs and feet there or a split second shot of a full-body prop devoid of articulation. We can only take it on good faith that this hideous thing that looks like someone spliced Spider-Man‘s man-rat nemesis Vermin and the guy from RoboCop after he got doused with toxic waste and then left it in the dryer too long. Makes you wonder how even the dumbest Nazi could believe this would give rise to some sort of supreme Aryan super being. From my vantage point, the best case scenario from this breeding experiment would be a blonde-haired, blue-eyed “ALF.” “Sieg Heil! I kill me!

Dan Haggerty found fame in the 1970’s as TV’s “Grizzly Adams.” That was a popular family show about the adventures of a pioneer mountain man and his pet grizzly bear. His career pretty much peaked then and there, and for the remainder of his career he mostly starred in low budget b-movies and z-grade direct-to-video nonsense such as this. Haggerty doesn’t so much act in this movie as he smokes – and smokes and smokes and smokes.

To say that Dan Haggerty chain smokes during nearly the entire running time of Elves doesn’t do justice to how much he smokes. The man has a lit cig either in his mouth or his hand in nearly every moment he’s on the screen. The man is actually shown smoking while brushing his teeth. The VHS should have had a Surgeon’s General warning on the side of it. That wouldn’t phase Haggerty one bit. He openly mocks Surgeon General nicotine warnings in the movie with the line “Surgeon General warns that a pack a day keeps the lungs nice and gray.” How did he not die of lung cancer during the making of this movie? I’m amazed viewers don’t suffer from second-hand smoke just watching it.

Haggerty smoking is so astounding I actually put together a supercut of nothing but scenes where he smokes like a chimney Santa himself wouldn’t want to slide down. Watch it if you dare.

Haggerty stars as a down-on-his-luck ex-cop who gets hired as the new department store Santa after the previous coked-out Santa gets castrated by the elf for sexually harassing his future baby momma Kirsten, who also works at the store. Being an ex-cop, he wants to know who murdered the previous Santa. Being newly homeless, he breaks into the department store and begins secretly living in the storage room. Good thing, too, because Kirsten and her girlfriends have never seen Chopping Mall and fail to realize whenever you sneak into a place of business afterhours for a sexy romp with your boyfriends, it will always end in death and mayhem. Murderous Nazis that all talk with Colonel Klink quality German accents and the elf who is nobody’s buddy crash the party, leading to Haggerty becoming suddenly friendless Kirsten’s smoking gun protector.

Luckily for the Marlboro Snowman, this town just happens to be home to both an expert in elf lore and another expert who specializes in the most specific field of Nazi elf lore.

It also helps that Gramps has had a change of heart and wants to save his grand/daughter after realizing that the offspring of Kirsten and the elf would become the Antichrist and not just the Aryan overlord he hoped for.

Hitler = good.

Satan = bad.

Impregnate your own daughter = good.

Let a monster impregnate your daughter/granddaughter = bad.

This is how Gramps thinks. Gramps has more issues than a comic book shop.

It also helps that there’s a magical elfstone that can defeat… You know what? I’m not going to spoil it. You’ll just have to one day see for yourself how Christmas Eve of destruction ends for virgin Kirsten, Rent-a-Claus, and the pint-sized satanic inseminator determined to spread his holiday cheer.

Spoiler warning: Elfish foreplay is hardly 50 Shades of Tingle and involves more insects than you’d probably expect. Ewww…

Elves is the kind of movie where you say to yourself, “Someone came up with this idea and someone else said, yes, that sounds like exactly the kind of motion picture I want to produce — here’s money.”  To those misguided moneymen I say, thank you. The world thanks you.

How does anyone even give a star rating to a movie like Elves? Positive review, negative review, they’re both 100% accurate. Ah, what the hell? It’s Christmas! Four snowflakes!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a bad movie night!

Elves (1989)
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