Monday, December 19, 2016

ELVES (1989)

I've known of this little Christmastime occult monster tale for years but never sought it out until now. The only point of interest it had for me was the presence of TV's Grizzly Adams in the person of big, hairy Dan Haggerty. I have some vague memories of the show and of him as a pleasant enough actor with a certain skill set that I just couldn't imagine translating well to a horror film. Turns out I was right.

In ELVES Haggerty plays an alcoholic ex-cop on his last financial legs and on the verge of homelessness. He appeals to an old friend and is eventually offered the job of department store Santa for the holidays where one night, after hours, he makes the acquaintance of three of the store's teenaged female employees. (Mind out of the gutter! This isn't porn.) The trio of ladies have recently conducted an Anti-Christmas ritual in the woods nearby by reading an incantation from Kristen's grandfather's book of ancient gobbledygook. You know - like you do. It seems that this recitation of occult gibberish has unleashed an elf hellbent on carrying out a generations long plan to impregnate a teenage girl. (Maybe this IS porn, in a way.) It turns out that Kirsten is the intended 'mother of elves' and her grandfather is tied up in some odd cult that is trying to stop this from happening. Or trying to make it happen faster, or something. I forget. The movie is kind of dull.

But what isn't dull is watching Haggerty shamble his way through this half-assed low budget silliness. About thirty percent of his performance seems to have been a series of first takes that no one thought would get used and the rest seems like a man making a valiant effort to not throw his hands up in disgust. He tries hard, but you can sense that he knew this was crap. To be honest, his efforts are often undermined by sloppy direction and camera placement so his earnestness is sometimes wasted. Plus, I really don't know how any actor could have delivered some of ELVES' dialog without cracking up occasionally. Also, I was impressed by Haggerty's ability to smoke Camel cigarettes in nearly every scene and he is even pictured clutching his fresh carton of cancer sticks in one shot. It's like a window into a stinky past where all clothes smelled of stale smoke and restaurants were so cigarette friendly that they sold the things right there in the place. 1989 is a world away!

As for the film, it sucks. The story isn't terrible but it is terribly told. The actors are trying but the grandpa character should never have been sporting such a cartoonish German accent although the Nazi reveal adds spice to the bizarre Germanic occult weirdness. This might have been an interesting film with more time, talent and money but what we have is at best a completely skip-able jumble of half baked ideas and boring execution.

But I did laugh a LOT at Haggerty's discovery of a bomb planted in his car! That whole scene must be seen to be disbelieved! 

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