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Elves (1989)


December 28, 2016 - 12:03pm | Ryan Tutolo

Your rating: None Average: 7.5 (2 votes)
Reviewer Rating: 
7
ReviewElves1989-1.jpg

Rating #: 
7/10
Director: 
Jeffrey Mandel
Cast: 
Dan Haggerty, Julie Austin, Deanna Lund


This is it. The final entry in the 12 Days of Christmas Horror 2016...unless you just happened across this review randomly, if so go back and read the other 11 you lazy slag! I’m not going to sit here and lie to you, pretending to give an unbiased review...all reviews are biased. We’re influenced by the world around us and liking or disliking something is all based on who you are and how your tastes developed. That being said, I adore this movie. I love every single shitty piece of dialog and terrible special effect.

The movie starts out with a girl out in the woods with her friends practicing some pagan witchcraft, as you would expect on any Christmas eve. She cuts herself with a broken glass and bleeds onto a spot where apparently an elf was buried. She returns to her house to her horrible family that consists of her mom, younger foul-mouthed brother and her grandfather.  Meanwhile the Elf (yeah there’s only one elf in this despite the plural title) crawls his way out of the ground to terrorize everyone. Dan Haggerty, fresh off of Grizzly Adams, is a homeless former detective who is down on his luck but gets a Santa job after the current one is seen molesting teenage girls in a department store and subsequently murdered.

So as the bad Santa is in the back of the store doing coke and getting pissed off because he bushy fake Santa beard is ruining his lines, the elf sneaks in and stabs him to death in the dick. He gets stabbed sooo many times in the dick, it’s at least a dozen. I know this because I went back and counted the stabbing sound effects. Afterwards, there’s a chalk outline with a huge bloodstain around the outline’s crotch. So the girls break into the mall to hangout, try on clothes, and go to 3rd base with their boyfriends. Unfortunately for them an elf is there along with a bunch of Nazis. After the gunfight ends everyone is fired for being involved in a gunfight with Nazis. At this point things really pick up and the elf lore is revealed to be resulted from Nazi experiments and some strange incest filled scheme.

If that description hasn’t turned you off yet, then this movie might just be for you. Unlike many modern bad movies, you can tell the filmmakers were actually trying on this one. That effort is what makes the difference in a good-bad movie and a bad-bad one. This has more in common with something like Troll 2 than it does with something like Santa Claws.



The acting is of course terrible, specifically the main girl and her family. Dan Haggerty is actually pretty good and believable as a man dumbfounded by the nonsense occurring around him. A quick side on Dan Haggerty, is there a scene where this guy isn’t smoking? Every single scene he’s waving a cigarette around like it’s part of his hand, I feel like part of his contract must have stated that Mr. Haggerty is allowed to smoke anytime he wants to.

There are so many classic scenes in this movie it’s difficult not to spoil it, but I think it’s worth going in not knowing what’s coming because if you like good-bad movies like I do, then you’re sure to be laughing your butt off on this one. Any scene with the little bratty brother is pure cinematic gold, and if you know me, then you know my aversion to child actors, so that has to say something in itself. The Grandfather is also hilarious with his nonchalant attitude towards the transpiring events and his own horrible part in them.

The special effects are pretty bad. The elf is only shown from the chest-up so we can assume there’s nothing else below aside from the puppeteer’s arm controlling him. There are also these tiny hands that can only open and close slightly, like the little t-rex head on a pole you had as a child. There are a few decent action scenes like the gunfight and the car chase that ends in a classic 80s explosion.  Good stuff. The gore is non-existent but there is at least one horrific scene involving an animal death. Don’t worry though, the party responsible for the dead animal gets what’s coming to them.

So here’s the hard part. Looking at this movie objectively, it’s terrible. It doesn’t deserve a rating above a 3/10. However, considering the entertainment I get out of it and the sheer joy of spreading the word on this underappreciated 80s gem it’s like a 9/10. Ah the dilemma of a horror reviewer. Go with your heart and be lambasted for having shit taste, or go with your head and be accused of having no sense of fun and humor. Best case scenario is that someone like the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew find this and does an episode tearing it apart. Or maybe we can get one of these amazing modern blu-ray distributors to release a beautiful version with Joe Bob Briggs commentary. Regardless, I say seek out this movie. Spread the gospel of Elves and let its terribleness spread forth throughout the lands for all to enjoy...or hate.

Elves is sooo bad that it’s great. It has everything; incest, Nazis, witchcraft, dick stabbing, nudity, bad acting, and a nonsense plot. How this movie hasn’t been riffed by the MST3K crew I don't know, but you should gather everyone you know, get a couple drinks and have a fantastic holiday laughing at this buffoonery on film.

Author Information

Ryan Tutolo's picture
Ryan Tutolo is a horror movie lover and host of the UHM Podcast. Follow him on Twitter and let him know why his reviews suck!

https://twitter.com/ryantutolo
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