Elves~ 1989, Jeffrey Mandel
Will somebody put this out on Blu Ray!?! Elves hasn’t been available (that I know of) in region 1 home video since the age of VHS… And that’s ridiculous. Right now, we live in a world where you can buy a Blu ray collectors edition of The Amazing Spiderman 2 in this hideous Jamie Foxx statue, but you can’t buy Elves at all. That’s a world without logic. That’s a world where Isis has already won.
Elves is pretty much a shoddy, bargain basement imitation of Joe Dante’s Gremlins, a movie which spurred a wave of small, impish monster films (Troll, Hobgoblins, Ghoulies, Critters, etc…), but Elves goes that extra mile and keeps it festive by hanging on to the Christmas setting as well as the notion of the diminutive monster, which is a good move on their part. I like Elves a lot more than Gremlins, actually, and I think this movie is proof that bargain basement doesn’t always mean ‘bad.’ Sometimes you can find some pretty crazy shit in the basement, and crazy is interesting.
THE PLOT~ When Kirsten and her dim-witted friends swipe a Pagan Spellbook from her Grandfather’s library and boogie on down to the forest for an Anti-Christmas witches Sabbath (kid’s these days), they unknowingly summon an Elf, which in turn, begins to terrorize and murder various people in Kirsten’s life. The bodies begin to pile up, and as an elaborate, decades old conspiracy begins to unravel all around her, the burden falls on a hard drinkin’ ex-cop turned hobo/mall Santa to save the day, which will require him to battle both Neo-Nazis, and an elf, and then also to secretly sleep inside a department store, because he’s homeless, and it’s cold outside.
Oh, yeah, the Nazis… Apparently, unbeknownst to Kirsten, her damn Grandfather was once a full on member of The Third Reich, and even worse, he was one of those weird, black magic, occult Nazis you see in books and movies. Yes, gramps was into some crazy shit back in his goose-steppin’ days, and in fact, he and his SS homeboys once hatched a plan to very deliberately create the Antichrist, which I’m not sure why they wanted to do that, but they did, and this very plan remains in motion to this day, wether Gramps likes it or not. The reason being? Kirsten. She was actually strategically bred to be the ideal mate for a fucking elf, because apparently a half Aryan/half elf mix equals the antichrist. Apparently, that’s her destiny, to bang an elf and birth the antichrist. She got dealt a bad hand, no question about it. Only now Gramps regrets having created a child for the sole purpose of apocalyptic elf sex, so he fled to America and tried to escape his white-supremicist, black magic dabbling past. However, now the chickens have come home to roost, Elf style, and there’s no getting out of it. Unless, of course, our homeless gum-shoe mall Santa can put a stop to this pagan scheme once and for all! It’s worth noting that if there were actually any gum on this guys shoe, he might eat it, because he is homeless and drunk.
Production-wise, we’re not dealing with a masterpiece. The effects are cheap, the elf itself looks like garbage, the photography is bland and artless, and there isn’t any technical wizardry apparent in any aspect of this movie’s craftsmanship… Everything is just barely adequate, or worse, but that’s okay. Elves more than compensates for it’s technical shortcomings by being both entertaining, and borderline insane, a mix that constitutes 9/10’s of my DVD collection. I would say that this film has it goin’ on, and, when viewed alongside comparable films, like say, Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama, Elves is actually a head above.
I think my favorite thing about the film is that it’s actually pretty funny, and somehow, the comedy seems inadvertent, when it simply had to have been deliberate. That’s plain old magic, yo. The shabbiness of the production suggests to the viewer that anything nonsensical or absurd is probably included out of incompetence rather than for intentional comedic value, and thus Elves somehow makes you laugh with it, while duping you into thinking that you’re laughing at it, and thats such a satisfying experience. Some of the dialogue in this movie is just jaw dropping, the exchange between Kirsten and the original Mall Santa certainly comes to mind as being a true revelation in the art of cinema, but I’m not going to include it here… It’s better you experience that for yourself. I do have two short exchanges that I want to include, though:
Firstly, when Kirsten’s a-hole little brother Willie is woken up in the middle of the night and catches a glimpse of the titular elf. He screams, the elf peaces out, and when his mother arrives to investigate, she immediately wants to blame Willie’s elf sighting on the damn cat.
“Well there’s your answer, it was the cat!” Mom declares. Willie fires back with:
“It was a fucking real ninja troll!”
Well, maybe a child telling his mother that he had just seen a “fucking real ninja troll” doesn’t bring joy to your heart, but if that’s the case, you should probably just get the hell out of here right now. I have nothing for you.
Later in the film, a bunch of exposition is laid out, plot dump style, and Grampa is outted as being Hitler’s friggin’ Cabana Boy or whatever. Willie, who is unsure of how exactly the impending birth of the Antichrist is going to effect his Christmas morning, asks “What’s wrong?! Are we gonna be alright?” To which Kirsten responds; “No, Willie, Gramps is a Nazi.” That’s a pretty funny thing to drop on a kid on Christmas Eve. He’s gonna remember this Christmas forever.
There are a lot of Christmas themed horror films out there, and many of these are both much more available than Elves, and much shittier. Any list of festive, holiday themed horror films would be a little more diverse, and a whole lot more kick-ass with this flick tossed into the mix, and while it may not be a classic, it has all the qualifications to earn a cult following if it can manage to get a little more exposure. Recommended!