ELVES debuted on VHS in 1989. It’s a typical product of the eighties straight-to-video industry in many respects, complete with an above-the-title “star” in the form of Grizzly Adams himself: Dan Haggerty. Scary Christmas movies were popular in the 1980s (see CHRISTMAS EVIL, DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT), with ELVES being a late arrival. This explains why it isn’t as well known as its predecessors—aside from the fact that it’s a rotten movie!
One night three chicks, who dub themselves the “Sisters of Anti-Christmas,” perform a ritual in a forest that causes a hunched-over, pointy-eared creature to emerge from out of the ground. The thing makes its way to a local department store, where the luscious blond Kirsten—one of the gals from the opening scene—is working, and kills a guy dressed as Santa Claus.
The next day a new Santa is chosen by the store manager: a disgraced ex-cop named Mike. He and the sisterhood find themselves shut up inside the store that night, and some guys break in who the girls initially think are their horny boyfriends. The guys are actually gun-wielding German-accented miscreants looking for the elf creature—who it turns out is loose in the store. One of the gals is killed in the melee and the following day Mike is fired.
Mike uses his time off to do some research on what the elf thing might be, and learns of Nazi experiments designed to bring about a new master race by having a specially bred virgin impregnated by just such an elf on Christmas eve. As it happens, Kirsten is that intended virgin, having been raised as such by her Nazi grandfather and bitch mother. Will Mike manage to rescue Kirsten, and the world, from her intended destiny?
I think it’s safe to assume that writer-director Jeff Mandel wasn’t too into his job. ELVES isn’t merely low budget and amateurish (those things I expected), but also painfully lackluster in every department. The acting by all the performers, the experienced Dan Haggerty included, is atrocious, although in their defense the script gives the cast little to work with: none of the characters are developed beyond the most basic perimeters, and none ever display much emotion over all the killings in their midst—nor, for that matter, do they ever seem all that scared by the elf monsters.
The idea of Nazi elves invading a town’s Christmas celebration has definite promise, but Mandel and his collaborators have woefully failed to do it justice (see John Christopher’s novel THE LITTLE PEOPLE for a much better treatment of similar material). All the film really has in its favor are a lot of cheesy eighties action movie elements—car chases and crashes, some explosions, shootouts, gratuitous T&A—that, in keeping with the overall tenor, are too lackluster and uninspired to hold one’s interest.
Fitzgerald Films Corp./Triangle Film
Director: Jeff Mandel
Producer: Mark Paglia
Screenplay: Jeff Mandel, Mike Griffin, Bruce Taylor
Cinematography: Ken Carmack
Editing: Tom Mathies
Cast: Dan Haggerty, Julie Austin, Deanna Lund, Borah Silver, Mansell Rivers-Bland, Christopher Graham, Laura Lichstein, Stacey Dye, Winter Monk, Jeff Austin