Director: Jeff Mandel                      
Dan Haggerty, Deanna Lund, Julie Austin

Well, from the credits, it seems the city of Colorado Springs really lent out helping hands to make this movie. Judging from the end product, the filmmakers really needed it. With the paying of a Hollywood "star", they didn't have much more money to actually make the film. So I'm sure that one day, they were brainstorming ways to compensate for the lack of a budget, and finally came up with a solution - make the movie as sick as possible. And whatever you say about the rest of the movie, you can't deny that the makers of Elves succeeded on that level. Elves is an incredibly tasteless movie, finding all sorts of ways to offend as many viewers as possible. It's so perversely twisted, one can't help but find affection for it on that level. Those looking for anti-Christmas films and are willing to tolerate some really cheap filmmaking will find it amusing, and they certainly could do a lot worse.

It's not surprising that there's an undercurrent of black humor in this movie. After all, how could anyone take seriously a movie that includes (and not limited to) Nazis, ex-Nazis, nudity, rape, incest, children spouting four lettered words, urination, and drowning a cat in a toilet? No, having all of this material in a story hardly leaves any room for taking things seriously. The movie is so absurd, it becomes fascinating.

It's near Christmas in a small town which I assume is in Colorado. Times are tough for McGavin (Haggerty), a former police detective out of work and evicted from his trailer. He begs for a job from the owner of the local department store, but is turned down. After McGavin leaves, the department store Santa gets slapped by teenage Kristin after he feels her up while she sits on his lap to ask him for presents. Told to take a break, Santa goes into the back and snorts cocaine. While getting reacquainted with his dollar bill, an ugly creature hiding in the back picks up a knife and stabs Santa repeatedly in the crotch, killing him. Merry Christmas, Santa! With a position in the store now open, McGavin is hired to play Santa. His detective skills find a clue at the murder scene that points to mysterious forces. He finds out there's more to the case, and that Kristin is involved, when a trio of Nazi agents break into the department store that night to kidnap Kristin, who is camping overnight in the store with her friends. Fortunately, there's a gun department at the store, so Kristin and McGavin manage to hold off those Nazis in a wild shootout until the cops arrive. Ho ho ho! Eventually, we learn that the mysterious creature is an elf created in a genetic experiment during the Second World War, to be used in a plan for Nazi world domination - though I don't know exactly how this would work. (It's also never explained how the elf got all the way to Colorado from Germany.) The plan involves the elf mating with a virgin on Christmas Eve, for reasons that are also never explained. However, it's clear that it's up to McGavin to stop the upcoming threat - whatever it is - from ever happening.

There's actually only one elf in Elves, but never mind. For what was a very low budget, the effects crew actually came up with a decent looking elf that can actually make some movement and facial expressions. However, though, these things happen in a somewhat jerky and slow fashion. We never see the entire body of the elf until the last shot; the legs of the elf (shown in close-ups)  are obviously legs fastened to vertical poles off camera that are picked up and placed down to create the illusion of walking. It looks as ridiculous as it sounds.

Judging by the optical effects, it seems Elves was shot on videotape but placed through that process that makes videotape look like film -  a common ploy for many independent filmmakers in this period until audience standards went up. Whatever you say about the technical aspect of the movie, one has to admit that the filmmakers sure manage to squeeze a lot out of their limited funds.

Somehow, though, these technical aspects seem right at home for this movie. I can't imagine seeing a big budget or a regular low budget doing justice for the material. A tacky approach to potentially controversial matter frequently works better than a slick approach. Maybe that's why the independents have cornered the market on exploitation. Anyway, if you rent Elves, and expect a tacky movie, then you will no doubt get some enjoyment out of it as I did.

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)

See also: To All A Good Night, Troll 2, Theodore Rex