Friday, December 4, 2015

Midnight Movie: Elves (1989)

"You've got fucking big tits and I'm going to tell everyone I saw them!" — 7 year old boy to his sister.

spoilers in this trailer

Three edgy teenagers who call themselves "the sisters of anti-Christmas" convene in the woods to "bemoan Christmas as a petty, over-commercialized media event." One of them asks, "What's 'bemoan?'" The ringleader replies: "It means I didn't get any good presents last year."

I love this shit.

One of the girls cuts her hand when a candle holder inexplicably shatters. Spooked by the strange occurrence, the girls freak out and run, but not before dripping blood on what's presumably the burial spot of a demonic elf... or something like that. Honestly, I'm not sure what the hell is going on in the opening scenes, but it doesn't matter. What matters is the leader of the "witches" has managed to bring a monstrous elf into the world. Calling the monster a puppet would be too good for what it really is. It's more like a barely articulate torso the special effects crew simply shove into frame from time to time.

It's a Christmas miracle! 

Before we go further, I have to point out that the character's little shit of a brother spies on her when she showers. When she catches him, he says, "I'm not a pervert, I like seeing naked girls!" Later the boy is attacked by the troll in the middle of the night. When the mother tries to convince him he was only having a nightmare, he responds with poetic delivery: "No, it was a fucking little ninja troll!" The mother then convinces herself it was the family cat who scratched the kid, so she ends up awkwardly drowning the pet in the toilet, presumably because the sink was full of dishes.

Enter Dan Haggerty—yes, Grizzly Adams. He's a recovering alcoholic, ex-homicide detective who just so happens to have a bit of occult knowledge. He falls into the role of a department store Santa after the previous one is repeatedly stabbed to death in his nuts. To make matters worse, Grizzly Adams has just been evicted from his camper trailer. Soon after, he discovers a clue the homicide detectives missed and struggles with the decision to follow the trail.

the life and times of Grizzly Adams in the city

Meanwhile, the teenage main character and her airhead friends decide to have an after-hours party in the department store, which is coincidentally where Grizzly Adams is sleeping nowadays (in real life as well as the movie). They invite their born-to-die boyfriends who arrive shortly before three Nazi goons appear, who're hunting the elf for reasons you won't fully understand until later on... if it at all.

Not only is the plurality of "Elves" bullshit, it's hardly about the singular elf, either. It's so thoroughly messed up on a technical level, the film has no shortage of laughs. My biggest complaint is the film's insincerity: there are several hints that indicate the filmmakers were trying to make a laughably bad movie, including a Chinatown parody, an obvious Mommy Dearest influence, and the integration of Nazi mythology ("The Fourth Reich," as Grizzly Adams calls it). It's not quite as obvious or obnoxious as modern attempts at self-aware cheese, which means it's still entertaining enough to watch with an audience, especially when the wheelchair bound grandfather professes... eh, better let you go down that road on your own.

the director explains the plot to an actress

I really enjoyed Elves. Haggerty may not have been the best of actors, but he's got a unique screen presence, which kind of makes me wish he had been in more of these kind of movies. Sure, it's only a gimmick, but gimmicks can be fun.

Note: Several internet sources claim this film is rated PG-13. There's no way the version I saw would get a PG-13 rating, so I'm not sure if there's a heavily cut version floating around out there or not. There's a good amount of blood, a close-up of a cokehead getting stabbed repeatedly in the crotch, full frontal nudity, and a kid who cusses roughly as much as an episode of Def Comedy Jam. If any of these things are absent in the copy you manage to track down, you might as well just turn it off and find a better source. Who knows... maybe the full movie is on YouTube.

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