The Ghost of Christmas Past Presents: ELVES (1989)
Bill’s Bizarre Bijou
William D. Carl
This Week’s Feature Presentation:
“They’re not working for Santa anymore.”
Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk-till-awn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open. Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes!
Ah, Christmas . . . a time to relax on the couch with a cup of warm cocoa (with mini marshmallows, of course), a time to bring the family together to view one of the great holiday films from yesteryear that always brings a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat. What is it to be this year? IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)? MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947)? The Mexican atrocity SANTA CLAUS (1959)? No, this year good cheer and warm cockles will be brought to you via the 1989 horror/fantasy film, ELVES. You’ve never heard of it? Well, there’s a reason. Several reasons, in fact.
During a typical Christmas movie title sequence, I discover the star is none other than Grizzly Adams himself, Dan Haggerty (Haggerty was the star of THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GRIZZLY ADAMS from 1977 – 1978). This does nothing to instill confidence in the director’s choice, but he does sort of resemble a coked-up Santa with his bulging belly and golden beard.
Next, we meet three typical 80’s chicks, complete with big hair, Spandex outfits, and candles. Their leader, Kirsten, played by Julie Austen (EXTREME JUSTICE – 1993) claims they’re the Sisters of Anti-Christmas, and they decry the holiday as a commercialized, media-driven event. Well, duh. Kirsten displays a piece of nearly pornographic art called ‘The Virgin of Anti-Christmas,’ and they try out a satanic ceremony so one of the girls can obtain the attentions of a boy. They hurry home as a thunderstorm approaches (at Christmas-time?), while something scrawny and wrinkled and rubbery tracks our naughty artist to her home, where she’s bitch-slapped by her German grandfather (Borah Silver, who played Prince on the KOJAK television series from 1973 – 1978). It’s his spell book the girls were using. In the stark lighting of the home, we can plainly see this ‘girl’ is at least forty years old. We also meet her mother, played by Deanna Lund (Valerie on THE LAND OF THE GIANTS TV show from 1968 – 1970), who looks both younger and prettier than her daughter, and she threatens to clean out the girl’s baby-sitting money from her bank account. Cue shower scene, where little brother peeks on Kirsten. When discovered, Sis calls him a pervert. He calmly replies, “I like looking at naked girls. And you’ve got f—-g big t—ts, and I’m gonna tell everyone what I saw!” Meanwhile, the rubbery creature conjured out of the ground watches as sister and brother make up and wrestle inappropriately on her bed. What is with this family?
Anyway, the elf creature breaks a window with its wobbling little rubber fist and we’re treated to two minutes of blurry elf-vision until the gremlin rip-off straddles the foul-mouthed kid brother. Sadly, it doesn’t kill him.
Our hero, Mike McGavin, played by Haggerty, walks into the local department store after giving a few shekels to the Salvation Army outside, so you know he’s a good guy. Due to the prevalence of elf-vision POV shots, we ascertain the creature is following Kirstin to her work in the department store cafe. Behind her, Mike is pleading with the store manager for a job, any job. I think we all see where this is going. The ‘teenaged’ girls get in line and wait to sit on Santa’s lap, where Kris Kringle cops a feel up her leg and talks dirty. Back at home, Mom drowns her daughter’s kitten in the toilet. Why? Just to be mean, that’s why! Joan Crawford had nothing on this evil witch!
Santa’s mild gropings get him fired, and he is promptly castrated by a rubbery knife in a little rubbery hand while he is snorting cocaine. Merry Christmas, everyone! Slay bells ring!
Kirsten arrives home and says, “It was a rough day at work. Santa got murdered.” Grizzly Adams—I mean, Mike—arrives home to his trailer and finds it padlocked. When the girl sees a little monster peeking in her window, her grandpa goes crazy and interrogates her. He speaks to his daughter in German and she screeches, “Don’t start in on those elves again!” Again? Is this a typical conversation in ANY home?
Mike makes friends with Kirsten at the department store, and he’s spotted by the manager. Soon, he’s the new Santa, getting peed on by infants and with a changing room with a bloody chalk-outline on the floor. Luckily, he used to be a detective, so he can investigate the death of the previous St. Nick.
Grandpa has another German friend from the old days, Ruebenkreutz (I’d love a Rueben with kraut, please) who gets really excited when he finds out Grandpa’s granddaughter has been “chosen” by the elf. Grandpa, however, seems less than thrilled.
After investigating in the local library (“Section 666”), Camel-smoking Mike discovers a link between the Nazis and the murder. You see, Hitler ordered his scientists to create a race of supermen (feeble little rubbery guys?), but they must mate with a virgin to achieve their true superpowers. Mike heads back to the store, where he plans to sleep, and the trio of girls break into the place for a party in the lingerie department. Yowza! Three boys show up to join the party. So now we have three bubble-headed, big-haired girls in fancy underwear, Grizzly Adams, an oversexed boy band, and the Elves of the Third Reich all in the same cheap location. Trouble is definitely brewing. And this is before the house detective is killed and three robbers in bad suits (also Nazis) show up. Several people are killed, and the store manager declares “It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow. You think anyone’s gonna want to shop here with blood stains on the floor?”
Back home, Gramps is determined to protect Kirsten from his wheelchair, but Mom doesn’t believe in any of his “stupid myths.” Mike enlists the aid of a professor who provides all the exposition necessary . . . and it deals with Noah’s Ark, God, and elves. He’s smart, you know, because he smokes a pipe. He even says about the Nazis, “If you ignore their brutality, they were just a bunch of crackpots.” What?
Mom goes a bit crazy when her daughter says she wants her father. “Go down to the study,” she screeches, harpy-like. “He’s your grandfather and your father!” I waited for the slapping to start (“He’s my father. He’s my grandfather. He’s my father.”) Gramps explains how Mom wasn’t harmed at all, that he needed to sleep with his daughter in order to produce a Kirsten – a receptacle for elf sperm. (All I can say is. . . Ewww!)
Mike tracks down another exposition-spouting John Waters look-alike professor to explain the very last pieces of the elf puzzle to him, and he’s off to the rescue. Racing to Kirsten’s house at an amazing forty miles per hour, his car is possessed by an elf spirit (what the what?) and blows up just as he leaps from the vehicle. But will he make it in time to prevent the master race from being created or even to stop the elf from getting his floppy hands on Kirsten’s virgin (Ha!) body? You’ll have to watch till the ludicrous apocalyptic ending to know for certain, but I really wanted to shout out “Oh, mighty Isis!”
Dan Haggerty must have been in his pre-Betty Ford Clinic days when he made this. He slurs his lines in a barely intelligible manner that sounds like Brando with a bag of marbles in his mouth. He’s pretty bad, seemingly bored out of his probably stoned skull.
And let’s take a moment to talk about the Elf himself. Despite his crinkled, scary face, the little beastie doesn’t look like he could chase down a double amputee. He’s weak, powerless, and if the elf-o-vision POV is any indication, he’s nearly blind. All he can do is sneak up on the clods in this move and attack them by surprise, because these schmucks don’t even try to fight back. At one point, the elf is actually frightened by a wind-up plush toy pig. They look like the kind of thing you can pick up at any Halloween City to decorate your lawn. Some poor P.A. is probably under it moving it around a bit. And what’s with the plural nature of the title of the movie? There’s only one damn elf in it!
Despite all these problems, ELVES moves quickly from point A to point B, with plenty of quotable dialogue, ugly violence, pretty girls with giant hair and 80’s slang, an extended nude scene by Deanna Lund in a bathtub, a throbbing synth score, car wrecks, scary faces inside Christmas trees, drugs, bad puppetry, and some seriously messed-up family situations. It’s never boring! With a bit of help from a few alcoholic beverages, this would be a laugh riot to watch with friends during the holidays. Peppermint Schnapps would probably be perfect.
More good lines:
“What’s going on? Are we going to be all right?” “No, Grandpa’s a Nazi.”
“Now that Hell is full, I wonder where you will go?”
“Santa said oral.”
A sick and twisted no-budget movie that’ll have you in stitches, this little wonder of ickiness is a cool antidote to all the syrupy Christmas films available, but I wouldn’t rush out to try and locate a copy. Good luck if you do, because it is tough to find.
I give it two incestuous Nazis out of four.
© Copyright 2011 by William D. Carl