Holiday Horror Guide #4–Elves

From the depths of straight-to-video obscurity rises the 1989 feature ELVES. Directed by Jeffrey Mandel, this slice of holiday mayhem offers a species of pint-sized creatures summoned by the Nazis as part of a “selective breeding” program to create their master race (though the movie’s frank-and-beans budget only allows for one creature to run rampant). Rather than explain how an army of two-foot rubber-faced monsters would achieve that goal, ELVES focuses instead as its lead beastie stalks a pair of potential impregnables in a shopping center.

Starring Dan Haggerty as the down-on-his-luck mall Santa who saves the day, ELVES earns chutzpah points for trying to pass off an goofy-looking, inarticulate mask as an object of terror but fails just about everywhere else. Insipid where it aspires to be shocking, dull when it tries to be thrilling, it might please fans of celebrity schadenfreude (Haggerty gives not so much a performance as a prolonged sense of discomfort) and completists who feel compelled to watch every direct-to-tape atrocity that can get their hands on me. Like me.

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