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  Elves Santa's Little Helper
Year: 1989
Director: Jeffrey Mandel
Stars: Dan Haggerty, Julie Austin, Deanna Lund, Borah Silver, Mansell Rivers-Bland, Christopher Graham, Laura Lichstein, Stacey Dye, Winter Monk, Jeff Austin, Allen Lee, Paul Rohrer, Ken Carpenter, Michael Tatlock, Michael Herst, Chris Hamner, D.L. Walker
Genre: Horror, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Christmas is approaching and Kirsten (Julie Austin) is out in the woods with her friends Brooke (Laura Lichstein) and Amy (Stacey Dye), having stolen a book of her grandfather's which they plan to use in a ritual. Kirsten is most dissatisfied with the festive season and wants to use arcane magick to fix that, but as they light a candle she accidentally cuts her hand, dropping blood onto the ground. This puts the girls off continuing with their ceremony so they head back home - except it seems they might have done enough, or too much, as once they have left a hand bursts through the earth. What have they awakened?

Certainly there's a tradition of horror stories, or ghost stories anyway, for Christmas, and in that vein there have been plenty of shocker-themed movies of which Elves is one of the most obscure. Although it looks like a straight to video flick from the eighties, it apparently did secure a small cinema release before belatedly escaping onto VHS some time later, though even then the punters were not exactly lining up to watch it. However, over time it has generated some interest among bad movie buffs for whom Troll 2 is a great night's entertainment and the notion of so bad it's bad taste horrors are just the thing to amuse, with the fact this had a Yuletide theme making it all the better.

What's the least Christmassy Christmas story, then? How about an elf trying to impregnate a young woman to create the Nazi master race? Huh? Well, that's what writer and director Jeff Mandel conjured up for his festive fun as our heroine is about to have the worst Christmas ever when she finds out what her family have been up to for the past few decades. A hint of this might be that her dear old grandpapa (Borah Silver) sports a very strong German accent and resembles a bearded Dr Strangelove, or he would if that accent was any good: he makes the cast of 'Allo 'Allo sound like Boris Becker or Werner Herzog. Anyway, there's a reason the old geezer has all this occult paraphernalia.

And it's because he was part of the Nazi programme to crossbreed women with "elves", and in spite of the title we only ever see one, an extremely poor puppet of whom only his head, his feet or his hand are visible as he lurks about in the shadows (the lighting here was noticeably dim). He very slowly chases after his victims, but spares Kirsten and even goes as far as stabbing the Santa in the department store where she works because the sleazebag groped her as she sat on his knee - this in the opening act, where we've already heard her younger brother swearing his head off after spying on her in the shower and seen her evil mother (Deanna Lund from Land of the Giants) drown her pet cat in the toilet bowl. Ho, ho, er, argh?

Basically, nobody involved in this acts in a sane manner, and that's before we are even introduced to the hero, who turns out to be the chainsmoking replacement Santa, Grizzly Adams. Not the actual Grizzly Adams, but Dan Haggerty playing a sacked detective who chooses to live in the store because he has nowhere else to go, and looking at him he may have been hired thanks to his bushy beard and big belly, but he also looks as if even walking from one end of the shop to the other will leave him gasping for breath. This fellow, named Mike, is to be Kirsten's saviour, for a while at any rate, as when she visits the store after hours to try on skimpy clothes with her two friends she is stalked by the troll and as if that were not bad enough, three Nazis who have been trying to capture her getting into a gun battle with Mike. There is a sordid revelation to come about Kirsten's family, leaving the overall impression this was made by people who truly hated Christmas and wished to cinematically fart in the face of anyone who disagreed. Music by Vladimir Horunzhy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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