Today’s flick explains the historical link between Santa’s little helpers and the Third Reich: 1989’s Elves.
Elves was written and directed by Jeffrey Mandel, who worked on the television series Super Force and the low-budget flicks Firehead and Cyber-CHIC.
The cinematographer for the film was Kenny Carmack, who shot a handful of similar low-budget sci-fi features like Alien Seed and Laser Moon. The editor for Elves, Tom Matties, also worked on Alien Seed: one his few other listed credits.
The special effects work for Elves is credited to Evan Campbell, who has worked on such productions as The Faculty, Spawn, Darkman III, Darkman II, and Super Mario Bros., among many others. The stunt coordinator for the movie was an equally season B-movie veteran: Bob Bragg, who worked on Hell Comes To Frogtown, Friday the 13th Part VII, Mac And Me, Zandalee, and Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood.
The musical score for Elves was composed by Vladimir Horunzhy, who provided music for a couple of episodes of Tales From The Crypt, as well as for the notorious Stephen King miniseries adaptation of The Langoliers.
The most prominent and recognizable member of the cast of Elves is Dan Haggerty, who is best known for his lead role in The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams. He also notably served as an associate producer on the movie.
The plot of Elves is summarized on IMDb as follows:
A young woman discovers that she is the focus of an evil nazi experiment involving selective breeding and summoned elves, an attempt to create a race of supermen. She and two of her friends are trapped in a department store with an elf, and only Dan Haggerty, as the renegade loose-cannon Santa Claus, can save them.
Elves currently holds an IMDb user rating of 4.1, along with a 35% audience aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes. Its limited releases mean that it has mostly spread through word of mouth, but it has developed quite a reputation among bad movie fans as a holiday favorite.
Elves is, above all else, a very goddamn strange movie. The premise, that elves are not just real, but the result of genetic experimentation by Nazis, is so impossibly outlandish that it is hard to believe that this movie isn’t a comedy. When you include how awful the eponymous elf puppet looks, it is astounding that anyone would imagine releasing the finished product of this movie, even direct to video.
Lucky for us all, this movie was made with its atrocious plot and dialogue in tact, and with the cheapest effects the production could afford with spare change. The result is a movie that is nothing short of gut-bustingly hilarious: the performances are laughable (particularly the German accents), but honest, and there is never even one hint that this movie wasn’t a 100% serious effort to make a horror movie. Despite dialogue about evil elves, Nazis, magic, and incest, every one of these performers plays it totally straight, and the result if pure magic.
Elves isn’t quite on the level of Troll 2 or The Room as a good bad movie, but I think it is the closest thing there is for the holiday season. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians and Santa Claus are good fun, but neither reach the heights of what-the-fuckery offered with Elves. For bad movie fans, this is a must see. Unfortunately, it has never received a DVD release, but VHS and digital copies are floating around in the ether, and you can find them with a little bit of digging.
For more thoughts on Elves, I suggest checking out Red Letter Media’s Best of the Worst, The Cinema Snob, Dark Corners of This Sick World, and the Bad Movie Fiends podcast. As it turns out, the real good-bad movies have a way of making the rounds quickly.