Elves (1989) — Santa dukes it out with Nazi elves

“Yeah, well, I had a rough day at work… Santa got murdered.”

Justin’s rating: Santa! I know that guy! He’s buff!

Justin’s review: As we close out Culty Christmas this year, I wanted to continue my personal tradition of identifying a truly memorable holiday flick to review. I’ve been sitting on Elves for a couple of years now (both figuratively and literally) and heard legends of its awfulness. So now it is time to give this demented Christmas flick its due.

A girl named Kristen is mildly miffed at Christmas for some reason, so she steals her grandfather’s spellbook and accidentally summons up an evil elf to terrorize the locals. If this movie was only that, it’d be an average but forgettable ’80s horror romp. What propels it into the realm of legendary is everything that the filmmakers pile upon this standard plot.

Where to start? Well, the main family here is incredibly messed up. Kristen’s grandfather is a Nazi warlock or somesuch who impregnated his own daughter (hence, our lead is both his granddaughter and daughter) to carry on an experiment from the Third Reich to breed world-dominating elves. The mom is psycho, the little brother is a foul-mouthed jerk, and even the sister isn’t blameless for starting the whole mess.

Then you can toss in a chain-smoking mall Santa (Dan Haggerty) who ends up defending the building against the well-armed Nazi militia that shows up, a woman who murders a cat by drowning it in the toilet, and a single, solitary elf who’s just an unmoving rubber head that moves around via Blur-O-Vision. The elf’s ultimate goal is to breed with Kirsten… to make more gawping rubber masks, I guess.

Santa decides to do some investigating — he was a police detective in his salad days — to find out the sinister truth behind the elf conspiracy and how to defeat it. That adds a whole lot of padding to this movie.

While it’s not the best “bad” movie I’ve ever seen due to its sometimes slow pacing, Elves proves that it can be just as bonkers as such classics like Jack Frost, Troll 2, or Samurai Cop. Out-of-nowhere bizarre quotes, terrible production values, and a main monster who’s thoroughly underwhelming combine for a Christmas treat that we all deserve.

Didja notice?

  • This movie is rated PG-13 — there is NO WAY it would get that these days
  • “Get real Kirsten!” “Get over it Amy!”
  • The Sisters of Anti-Christmas
  • Go ahead and slap people in advance for the “lies they were about to tell”
  • Go in grandpa’s room, mom will wipe out your savings account. That seems a proportional response.
  • Her little brother is a weird pervert
  • “I’m living a cliché — my cat is the only friend I have left!”
  • Elf vision is very blurry
  • The first mall santa has a terrible fake beard
  • CAT MURDER VIA TOILET. I know cats, you’d think this one would put up a better fight.
  • Well, Santa’s dead
  • “He was a pervert and a drug addict and somebody killed him. Isn’t that the spirit of Christmas?”
  • Yes, it was a ninja gremlin all right!
  • “Is everything alright?” “No, Willy, Grandpa is a Nazi.”
  • The police left the corpse outline tape in the Santa waiting room
  • “When there is no more room in hell, the elves will walk the earth.”
  • After-hours fashion show in the mall!
  • Oh now the girls are “Masters Without Slaves”
  • Hope you like hearing a store alarm for 10 minutes straight
  • These guns sound like those old cap gun toys
  • Those are some giant teddy bears
  • Giant shootout in a department store? Better “dust for prints!”
  • Always a good idea in movies to have a plugged-in radio right next to your bathtub

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