12/19/09

Elves (1989): It's Like Troll 2 For Christmas...With Nazis!

Hey, folks. With less than a week until Christmas, I bet lots of you are thinking, “Hey, what’s something I could see that’ll give me the same feeling as Troll 2, has a Nazi subplot, and a Yuletide connection.” Well, get ready to deck your halls with boughs of awesome, because I’ve got the film for you. Legend has it that Santa gets all his work done with help from his elves, and we know what those are. Sometimes they end up wanting to be gay dentists, but that’s all good. What Tolkien freaks tell us is that elves were beautiful sacred creatures too pure for our warring world. That’s generally when you punch them in the face. What we encounter in the 1989’s Elves, is decidedly neither of those.

The creature in Elves looks a little like someone deflated a mask that was originally intended to be Panthro from Thundercats. It doesn’t really have expressions or facial movements for the most part. That’s because magical, evil, Nazi summoned Elves want but three things. First, to kill people with small knives, second, to make it with a virgin, and third to look as much like a poorly made mask as they can while doing it. It’s a matter of pride with them. I’m not sure why, and no one has ever lived long enough to ask one of the Elves why that might be. Maybe they think it impresses the virgins?

The virgin in question here is Kristen played by everyone’s favorite Julie Austin. You know Julie Austin from Twisted Justice (1990) and Smoothtalker (1993). Maybe that should have been a question. So I don’t know who she is, but she’s really entertaining to watch. This girl can really pout, and she’s got good reason. After all her mother (Denna Lund) drowned her cat, and her granddad appears to be both a Nazi and more closely related than previously thought. That’s right. Name one other holiday film with Nazi’s and incest. I dare you. So who’s going to help a girl like Kristin when magical Nazi Elves come for her?

How about a former police detective turned alcoholic turned dry drunk department store Santa.? Grabs you pretty good don’t it. Then you put Dan Haggerty in the role, Grizzly Adams himself, and you’re really talking about something special. It’s quite a sight to see Haggerty’s Mike “Santa” McGavin go about a Robert Langdon style hunt for the meaning of a occult symbol. I kept waiting on the an evil monk to come get him, but I had to settle for German gunmen with mullets. That’s more than a fair trade. Haggerty is the highlight of this film, and he is incredibly earnest even when facing down one of the plastic Elves wielding a tiny knife. I really felt bad for poor Mike, and in the midst of all this campy silliness, I really wanted things to work out for him.

Let’s talk for a second about director Jeffery Mandel. This was Jeff’s first feature following an 8 episode run on the Pat Morita cop show “Ohara” (1987). Mandel was doing double duty on Elves as the writer/director working for Action International Pictures. They’re the same find folks who brought us David Carradine’s 1989 film Future Force and 1991’s Teenage Exorcist with Brinke Stevens. So you know you’re dealing with real quality here. I really can’t say much about the direction or look of the film because it would be unfair to judge from the 10th generation copy I watched. I would have to include fallout lines in my thoughts on the cinematography, and that’s just not fair. If this one got a reissue on DVD and cleaned up a bit, it still wouldn’t be anything special to look at, but at least I could see what was happening.

Elves is chock full of laughable lines, loosely applied logic, and a terrible looking monsters. The Nazi sub-plot never made much sense, and neither did anything involving Kristin’s home life. The great thing is that none of it mattered. All that mattered was that there were terrible looking Elves killing people, and it was up to Grizzly Adams to stop them. Now this film didn’t reach epic proportions of bad goodness like Jack Frost, but it definitely was an enjoyable watch even if I had to wade through a shady, soft copy to watch it. If you can get your hands on this thing, and it is out there in the ether to be got, then Elves is one you should add to your Christmas viewing list. I know its one I’m going to be checking off, and then checking off twice.



Bugg Rating
I could not come up with a trailer, but I found a clip of a gal being stalked by one of the Elves. It surely will give you a better example of what the film is like than any trailer I could show. Check it out.

4 comments:

  1. The tag-line on this film pisses me off a little... it puts "anymore" after the "..." as if the word "anymore" is the focal point of the line. In contrast, I would say that the fact that they're NOT WORKING FOR SANTA is the focal point of the line, and thus it -should- read something more like: "They're NOT working for SANTA anymore!!" The ellipsis is superfluous. How dare they include an unneeded ellipsis!?

    Judging from your review, the same amount of sloppy, lack of attention to detail went into the film itself Still, sounds fun. I'll keep an eye out for it! Thanks, Bugg. Happy Holidays.

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  2. Ive been wanting to grab this one for years, the plot itself earns it a watch no matter how terrible the movie may be, but if the words TROLL 2 appear in any form in any review of any film, Im instantly hooked! DVD RELEASE!!!

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  3. I watched this VERY young. I remember many details about it for a couple reasons. One milestone is it was one of my first exposures to nudity when the mom gets electrocuted in the bathtub (what a way to get sex ed!)

    Second this was my first intoduction to low grade B film making. Never looked back!

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  4. Thanks for the comments y'all.

    @J. Astro- My problem with the tagline is the inference that they were working for Santa at one time. Doesn't seem like it.

    @ Carl- No doubt very overdue for a DVD release where's Blue Underground when you need them?

    @Grey- While the mom was quite a bitch she was also quite foxy when she doffed her clothes. No doubt a great way to get a into to sex.

    Interesting that this film was so pivotal in your B-movie upbringing. It's always fascinating to find out where people got their start.

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