ELVES (1989)

Ho ho howdy folkses! It's that not-quite-a-holiday holiday season again! I so love writing my Twelve Days of Shitmas articles each December I just can't wait a whole year for more of that sweet, pungent Yuletide cheese. I've therefore decided to once again share a delightful Shitmas in July treat with my teeming hordes of loyal readers. Well, maybe not "teeming hordes." It might just be that one really friendly guy who keeps leaving messages in my MMT inbox...and yes, I would love to earn $5000/month from the comfort of my own home! Please tell me how!

It's hard to believe 2021 is already more than half over, isn't it? It seems to be whizzing past us at a breakneck pace, but maybe that's only because 2020 was the longest fucking year of our lives. I wish I knew where the time goes. Then I could go back and rescue the negative of Erich Von Stroheim's original nine-hour cut of Greed (1924), before MGM melted it down for its shiny silver nitrate.

I'd watch it all at once, wearing an adult diaper so I wouldn't even have to get up to pee.

Speaking of shiny things, I've always thought of July as the perfect time to clean and polish your balls so you can whip them out with confidence come December. If we're honest, all of your holiday decorations could probably use a good airing after six months in your damp, muggy basement. Everything down there tends to absorb that stale, musty stench of mildew, cat-litter and mouse turds...a very similar aroma to the two festively fragrant productions we have lined up for you today.

Our feature presentation Elves is bad enough all on its own, probably one of the most egregious examples of the notoriously diminishing-return-afflicted subgenre of Christmas horror films I've ever seen, but our bonus short subject is pretty darn diminished and horrifying, too, and though only ten minutes long it still manages to give our main abomination a serious sleigh-run for its money.

Santa Claus' Story (1945)

Santa Claus' Story is a real enigma. No existing copy has any credits attached, so no one knows who's in it, who made it or who in St. Nicholas' name thought it was a good idea, but it sure is something the same sense that stagnant urine is something different from lemonade.

It recounts that magical Christmas Eve when Santa came down the chimney and told a pallid, demon-haunted girl and a strung out, cynical husk of a boy a rambling, aimless tale about monkeys and a pretzel...presumably because the filmmakers had some stock footage lying around that needed to be used before the rental option ran out.

The film begins with a few lines from the famous Clement Clarke Moore poem A Visit from Santa Claus (1823), and it ends with a condensed version of Francis Pharcellus Church's equally famous article Is There a Santa Claus? (1897), but what happens in between is the stuff of Yuletide nightmares.

We open with a honey-voiced narrator reciting "T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house..." over a still frame of a snow-girt suburban split-level, panned and scanned in the eerily mechanical manner of a crime documentary where they zoom in diagonally on the window of the room where the murder took place. In this case, however it's just an innocent children's bedroom where Demon Girl and Strung-Out Boy are asleep in their twin beds.

Once the narrator reaches the end of " the hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there," we hear some sleigh bells jingling and jangling in the distance, and an offscreen voice shouts "Whoa Donder! Whoa Blitzen!" which is really nice I think, because Donder rarely gets a mention these days. Clement Moore changed the original Dutch "Donder en Bliksem," meaning "thunder and lightning," to "Donner and Blitzen" for his poem, and these quickly became the standard names in America, so it's interesting to see the mixed usage of the original and modern nomenclature here.

At any rate, Santa's shouting wakes the little Demon Girl, who rises breathlessly from her stifling bedsheets as if from some hell-haunted night-terror.

That doesn't look like childhood whimsy to me.

Demon Girl wakes Strung-Out Boy with excited shouts of "It's Santa!" and he rises to a weary elbow, groggy and hung over, lost in the fog of an evening steeped in booze and pills. He rubs his bloodshot eyes and scratches at the skittering staggers and jags of his delirium tremens.

"Santa better have some H or somebody's gonna get fuckin' hurt."

Demon Girl is all a-titter about Santa's arrival, but Strung-Out Boy is skeptical, even blase about it. He's from the dark, mean streets of decaying American suburbia, a seedy, soul-crushing world of gang wars, prostitution and drug deals gone violently wrong. He has no time for gossamer childhood fantasies and fairy tales of jolly fat men bearing gifts. His has been a hard-knock life of burdensome lessons, brutal disappointments and bitter blue ruin. His only friends are the pipe, the bottle and the needle.

Also, he has a puppy.

So the kids shlep downstairs to the raucous, demented laughter of the jolly fat man himself and find him enjoying a refreshing stretch after having just hauled his massive bag of street drugs and satanic paraphernalia down the chimney and out of the fireplace. He stands laughing like this for an uncomfortably long time, and it's apparent he's been sampling a few of his own wares.

"Ho ho hoooo! Now that's some primo shit!"

Santa greets the children as Virginia and Jackie, and Demon Girl asks in astonishment how he knows their names. Before he can respond that it's because he's goddamn Santa Claus, bitch, and surveilling children 24/7 is his mutha-humpin' jam, Strung-Out Boy jadedly explains "Because he's daddy dressed up, that's how."

Well, you're just a bundle of sunshine, aren't you, buddy? It's bad enough your poor sister is posessed by demons, can't you just let her enjoy this one, harmless little delusion for awhile? Haven't you ever heard that old saying "Trying to make yourself feel good by making someone else feel bad is like fixing your brakes by slashing their tires?" No? Well, that's probably because I just made it up. What I'm trying to say is maybe just don't be such a cynical dick, okay?

Aside from all the implied drug use and possible demonic possession Santa Claus' Story has been your bland, standard, mid-century, white-middle-American Christmas fare so far, but when Santa sits down in a big comfy armchair and invites the kids to sit on his lap, it suddenly takes a firm, fast, one-way tram-trip to What-the-Fucksville, U.S.A.

First Santa explains how he wants them to believe in him, not to provide succor to his own delicate ego, of course, but because if they don't he fears they'll miss out on the joy of Christmas.

Strung-Out boy looks like an elf who just drew the short straw on shoveling out the reindeer stalls, but Demon-Girl settles in, thinking she's got a good thing going here. She figures since they're already snug on his lap and he's probably got nothing else important to do, Santa ought to tell them a story. Surprisingly, despite it being Christmas Eve and his having to visit millions of other children that night, Santa thinks it's a fine idea. He says he will tell them the tale of "The Monkeys' Christmas," and proceeds with a scintillating little narrative fantod he assures them they will never, ever forget.

"Even the sweet release of death will not wipe clean the taint of its corruption..."

"...that goes for you, too, Fido."

Santa tells them that monkeys are a lot like people and often do the same things people do, and by way of example we fade to some stock footage showing a zoo someplace, where a bunch of monkeys are pouring from the mouth of a fiberglass cave. Last time I checked I am a people and that's certainly something I've never done, but I can roll with it. Each of us experiences the world from our own unique perspective and I'm sure there are lots of folks who live crammed together like sardines inside fiberglass caves.

Santa tells us that in the Spring the monkeys like to get out in the open and enjoy the fine weather, and that this is not a zoo at all, but "a place called 'Monkey Mountain.'" It's called that because it's a mountain and monkeys live there.

This has what exactly to do with Christmas?

The monkeys crawl all over each other like swarming ants then crowd together six and seven deep at the edge of an artificial pool. Somebody off-camera tosses a big honkin' pretzel into the water, but the monkeys are afraid to jump in to get it.

Finally, one desperately hungry "good little monkey" named Charley, who's probably been bullied by the bigger monkeys, had his lunch money stolen and hasn't eaten for days, leaps in after the treat out of pure desperation and grabs it in his teeth. Every time he heads towards the shore, however, the other monkeys block him from climbing out and, worse yet, as soon as he gets close enough to them they steal his prize.

This happens again and again, with poor Charley grabbing each newly thrown pretzel and each one getting snatched up by the opportunistic bullies on the shore. "No matter how he tries," Santa says, "he can't get away from those bad monkeys who steal his dainty morsel."

"The moral of the story is 'monkeys are assholes.'"

Now we see the monkeys swarming around a heap of bananas and Santa derisively calls them "greedy pigs," adding disgustedly "Even Charley gets his share," like it's a moral failing for the poor suffering creature to finally get a little something substantial in his aching stomach.

We fade back to Santa, hip-flanks hanging over the edges of his double-wide chair like over-filled water balloons, grinning across his double-wide face with its double-wide, double chins, with two kids sprawled across his milk-and-cookie-stuffed double-wide mid-section like a couple of otters sunbathing on a sand bar. He says to Strung-Out Boy, without a hint of irony or self-awareness, "Maybe you know people like that."

"Yeah. Maybe I do."

Now we fade to some chimpanzees dressed up like patients in a hospital, and I promise I'll only say it once that chimps aren't monkeys, they're fucking apes. Santa explains that eating too much too fast has led these greedy bastards to the doctor, which again I have no idea what this has to do with the holidays unless it's maybe a warning against the dangers of too much Christmas turkey, candied yams and mince pie.

A human "doctor" encourages one of the chimps to take some medicine orally via an atomizer, then Santa totally flips the script on us, claiming that the chimp isn't ill from over-eating after all, but actually has a bad cold and needs a hot water foot bath with Epsom salts before going to bed. "If sick monkeys do what they're told," he adds, "they get well quickly."

Fifty-fifty odds one of them shits the bed.

Now we cut to a bunch of chimps bobbing for apples and Santa says "Monkeys celebrate other holidays, too," besides the one he himself represents yet seems strangely reticent to mention. He insists that on Halloween monkeys have parties, dress up in funny costumes and wear masks just like people do.

Leave it to the world-weary old cynic Strung-Out boy to interrupt the jolly old fraud and ask what the audience has been wondering for the past five minutes, which is when are we going to get to something even tangentially related to the Christmas holiday?

Santa switches gears again and circles back to what may or may not have been his original point with "When Christmas draws near even the bad monkeys try to be good, and they even get all prettied up for the Christmas holidays!" Nice segue, Santa. Very smooth.

Now we see a chimp getting a mani/pedi and a shave and...I'll be honest, I've completely lost interest. Suffice to say we get even more stock footage of chimps pretending they're people. They get their natty people-haircuts, pose in their fancy people-clothes and build a sturdy brick people-house for themselves so they'll have a people-chimney for Monkey Santa to come down on Christmas Eve.

Finally we see Monkey Santa himself crawling out of the chimney and shaking around some toys and candy canes like he's having an epileptic fit. Naturally this is just another trained chimp, but they've put him in an absolutely horrifying suit and mask straight out of H.P. Lovecraft's sugar-plum fever-dreams.

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."

Monkey Santa leaves toys for the other "monkeys" and we finally cut back to Santa and the kids. Santa explains, "So you see, children...monkeys are very much like you in many ways, except one."

Demon Girl naively takes the bait and asks, "What way is that?" and Santa answers with a mischievous arch of his eyebrow and cruel glint in his eye: "They know they're monkeys, but you don't!"

"Oooh, burn!"

Strung-Out Boy glares at Santa as if to tell him to fuck right off...he may be a drug-addled, proto-goth, smack-addicted punk but he sure ain't no trained monkey. Even Virginia seems taken aback, and finally questions whether this weird, monkey-obsessed fat dude whose damp lap she's been sitting on all evening is really Santa Claus.

Santa says he'll answer by telling her what to say to any of her other "little friends" who may doubt whether he is who he says he is. He begins reciting the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" article by Francis Pharcellus Church. It's an abridged version but it hits most of the mawkish, gut-flushing, purple prose money-quotes that have made it the single most reprinted newspaper essay in United States history.

Demon-Girl is well-pleased by Santa's earnest reading of the sacred text...

...but Strung-Out Boy just wants that speedball he asked for when he saw him at the mall last Wednesday.

With these words of the great holiday prophet F.P. Church, Santa, speaking of himself in the third person as grandiloquent sociopaths often do, reassures Demon Girl that "He lives, and he lives forever...a thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

As the hell-spawn squatting within the stricken girl-child's body revels and capers and dances and sways and slavers for human blood, Strung-Out Boy plots his exit strategy from Santa's suddenly Satanic lap.

"I need an old priest, a young priest and a Super Soaker full of holy water."

Then the kids go back to bed and Santa has a jolly good laugh at the stupid dupes in the audience, including me, who just walked through this rancid pile of reindeer shit.

The End

Elves (1989)

We hope you've enjoyed our little amuse-bouche, but now it's time for the main dish of our Shitmas in July feast, which this year includes a complimentary voucher for your choice of Tums, Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate. It's the least we can do considering the steaming poo-poo platter of off-brand offal we're about to serve you.

Elves constitutes the long-promised fulfillment of a reader request, from a loyal fan in the UK, who in the waning days of last year's Twelve Days of Shitmas project expressed a vain hope that it might be our final offering in that series. My Shitmas list was already set in stone at that point, but I promised I would review the film for this year's Shitmas in July.

I'd already contemplated mixing up our usual maudlin Christmas fare with something more hard-edged and horror-oriented this year so it seemed in the abstract like a perfect choice. I'd seen it before, or at least I thought I had, on a rented VHS tape some two and a half decades prior. I recalled it as having had plenty of cheese and cheapness to rag-on and ridicule, and watching it again all these years later I can confidently confirm that, so far as those attributes go, my memory certainly did not deceive me.

I wonder now, though whether I had actually watched it all the way to the end during my original viewing, because my overwhelming impression upon seeing Elves today is just how sick-mided, mean-spirited and downright unpleasant it is. Like many horror films, it's both violent and perverse, but it works neither as a psychological purgative in the manner of a well-structured slasher nor as a wink-and-nod, bad-taste boundary-pusher like the guiltily-entertaining films of Troma Studios. A movie that's ostensibly about murderous Christmas elves running amok in a department store should have been schlock-filled fun, but it's irredeemably tainted by what I can only describe as genuine misanthropy on the part of the people who made it.

It's scalding-hot-shower, wash-it-off-of-your-skin bad, gratuitously nasty and a serious chore to watch, but as a special bonus it's also rank-amateur, micro-budget bad, with terrible acting, a rambling, incoherent plot and laughably ineffective gore effects.

Also, Grizzly Adams is in it.

In short, I do not recommend it. It's also the only film I've ever reviewed that comes with a trigger warning for people who may have experienced certain kinds of family trauma. Maybe I'm being hyper-vigilant, but I do work in mental health care, and there's some twisted shit in this thing that I myself would have found pretty upsetting before electro-shock therapy transformed me into the cheerful and well-adjusted fellow I am today.

One man's coping mechanism is another man's free online entertainment, though, so I can only hope that your reading about Elves is more enjoyable than my actually having had to watch it.

[Please note: The only available prints of this film are fuzzy, dark and poorly-scaled VHS rips, so some of the screen shots are extremely hard to make out. In the immortal words of Hedwig Robinson, "It's what I have to work with."]

Our opening salvo in this direct-to-video war against taste and decency is a brief montage of cheap Christmas toys and chintzy decorations, and because this was made in 1989 for whatever the producers could beg, borrow or steal from their unsuspecting families, it's scored with chintzy, homegrown synth music, likely played on a $15 Casio keyboard from the local Radio Shack, probably by a guy who owed them money and who likely had taken only a handful of piano lessons when he was twelve. A music-box ballerina slowly spins, a wind-up Santa rings a little tin bell, and someone off-screen tugs on a visible piece of fishing line to make a glass ball ornament fall from a bough on an artificial Christmas tree.

We dissolve to some misty, murky woods where three allegedly teen-aged girls are trudging about looking for the perfect spot to have a little "Anti-Christmas" ritual using an old occult volume one of them pilfered from her creepy old grandpa's study.

The pale, blonde leader of this blasphemous trio decides they should set up at the center of a particular clearing because "it feels right" to her. This is our Final Girl for the evening, accompanied by her two Doomed Generic Friends whom we already know will be dead by the end of the first hour.

Final Girl. Seven acting credits on IMdB.

Doomed Generic Friends. Two acting credits between them, both for this movie.

Final Girl and her DGFs engage in some terrible, tin-eared teen talk of the "Valley Girl" variety, which was already five years past its expiration date when the movie was made. DGF1 tries to set down a blanket on the grass, but Final Girl pulls it away, claiming that they "have to be close to mother Earth" for their bullshit ceremony, which will aparently involve nothing but a votive candle, a notepad, the borrowed book and a drawing of "the Virgin of Anti-Christmas" that Final Girl claims came to her in a dream.

I also dream of tattooed titties.

DGF1 asks Final Girl about her Creepy Grandpa having told her never to touch his shit, and Final Girl says sure, she took the book without permission, and he also told her never to come out to the woods but fuck that guy and his rules and sovereign personal property. Final Girl and her pals can do anything they like, she says, because "We're girls, remember? The Master Race."

That's a phrase with an awfully specific connotation, and it smells like foreshadowing to me. What do you think the odds are her Creepy Grandpa has a German accent?

So after the "ceremony," which is a one-paragraph screed about how much they hate Christmas, because it's so fake and consumerized, man, DGF2 looks down and suddenly shouts "the candle!" as if there's some impending calamity connected to it. In reality it's just sitting there flickering contentedly like candles normally do, so I don't know what the hell she thought was happening. Nevertheless they panic and all go to grab it at the same time. The glass somehow spontaneously breaks, cutting Final Girl's hand, and as she winces in pain some of her blood drips into the ground at the "feels right" spot in front of her.

She wraps her wound with a scarf and the three decide they'd better head home. It looks like rain, apparently, and although the first rule of Anti-Christmas Club is you do not talk about Anti-Christmas Club, the second rule of Anti-Christmas Club is you never carry an umbrella.

As they gather their things and trudge off we see some curls of smoke rise from the spot where the blood soaked into the soil, and a sinister, rubbery hand emerges from the earth.

Two words: "Emery Board."

Final Girl gets home and sneaks into Grandpa's study to return the book. As she does so she sees a little pink glowing shard of crystal on the fireplace mantle and gently strokes it with her fingers like it's somebody's dick. Grandpa sneaks in on his wheelchair and rolls up behind her. She turns and he slaps her hard across the face twice, explaining in the absolute worst German accent I have ever heard "The first was for being here without my permission! The second was for the lie you are about to tell!"

He seems nice.

Creepy Grandpa is--big surprise--an old German guy, probably a Nazi scientist, probably involved in some of that occult shit Hitler was so obsessed with during the war. He berates Final Girl for taking the book and accuses her of going into the forbidden wood, both of which she denies having done. He notices her wound and gently takes her hand in his. He smiles lasciviously at the gash and offers to help her wash it out. She pulls away from him saying no thanks, Creepy Grandpa, she can wash it out herself.

We cut back to the forest where we get a hazy, Vaseline-on-the-lens POV shot from what is obviously the titular Elf's perspective. Despite the title there's only one elf, by the way, and despite the tagline on the poster he never worked for Santa. He grunts and snorts his way about in his dark, muddy, out-of focus way for awhile, then grabs a little frog off a tree and gobbles it down, making the exact same noise my childhood dog used to make every single time we sat down for a meal, when she'd decide that this was the absolute perfect moment to sit next to the table and start loudly licking her crotch.

Back at the house Final Girl has just finished washing and bandaging her hand when her Mom comes in to express her eager, exquisite pleasure at her daughter having injured herself. She confronts her about being in Grandpa's room, and explains that since she broke the rules she needs to be punished. The punishment will be that Mom is going to close her savings account and confiscate all the money she's earned from her shitty job at the local department store.

She seems real nice, too.

Y'all know by now that I do enjoy my little bit of profanity here and there. It's an admitted peccadillo of mine and all my efforts to curtail it have come to naught. Still, there is one word that I find so personally offensive that I only use it when absolutely no other expression will do. I reserve it for the worst of the worst of the worst, and I have never before uttered it in any of my 40-plus reviews for Million Monkey Theater. In fact, I've only spoken it aloud a handful of times in my entire adult life. I hesitate to type it even now. I can only tell you that it sounds remarkably like the third syllable of "contrapuntal" and that it describes this woman to a "T." I promise I'm not exagerating, and you'll find out why I've resorted to such drastic language just a little later on.

Final Girl goes upstairs for a shower, and as she's all nekkid and drying herself off we see her little brother, who is perhaps eight or nine years old, spying on her from the hallway and trying to get a glimpse of her boobs. She catches him in the act, slaps on her robe and chases him into his bedroom. She calls him a "little pervert," but he says he's not a pervert, he just likes naked girls, which might well be a valid point except that she's his sister. She points out this fatal flaw in his pre-pubescent reasoning, but he is unfazed, and defiantly declares "Yeah, and you've got fucking big tits and I'm gonna tell everybody I saw 'em!"

They're not actually that big, kid...not that I'm complaining.

It's just that you've had nothing to compare them to.

Little Brother brags that Mom told him he's getting all his sister's money, and in response to this revelation they have an uncomfortably copulative-looking tickle-tussle on the bed, watched through the window via Elf-Cam, with the titular beast panting, growling and slurping like an obscene caller in a 70's grindhouse flick.

This brings back memories.

So, yeah...we sure do have a lot of none-too subtle incest subtext happening in this first seven minutes, and that leads me to the promised trigger warning. The subtext is gonna be front, center and all up in your grill before this thing is over, so please assess your individual tastes and tolerances before reading the rest of the review.

Later that night Final Girl is looking at some photos that we are meant to assume are of her dead father and snuggles with her big fuzzy black cat Agamemnon. She laments that she's now living a horrible cliche where her cat is her only friend, and begs kitty not to ever abandon her "because I need all the friends I can get." Come on, girl! You don't fucking say that in a horror movie! It means something terrible is going to happen to the cat, and I'm not okay with that!

Final Girl also reveals during this little soliloquy that she's completely inept when it comes to gendering animals. She initially mistook her cat for a boy, hence the male name, but it turns out she's a girl and now she's quite heavily pregnant. Mom is none too happy about this, and is always looking for an excuse to get rid of her. You see what they're setting up here?

This is not a kitten, by the way. She's clearly fully grown, which would make her at least two years old, an age at which a tomcat's scrotum sticks out like a ripe Georgia peach. There is absolutely no way anyone with a modicum of sense or a wisp of basic biological knowledge could have mistaken her for a male.

You could make a cobbler with that thing.

Meanwhile the Elf breaks in through a basement window and starts ambling through the house, and again we get this point-of-view nonsense. It's maddeningly dark to begin with and has been further obscured with a post-production haze-and-lag effect, perhaps to suggest that the Elf suffers from advanced glaucoma.

So Elf-Cam slogs up the fuzzy, tenebrous basement steps, then slogs past the barely-discernable Christmas tree, then slogs up to the caliginous second floor and into one of the bedrooms. We slowly track towards Final Girl sleeping peacefully in her bed, and suddenly she's jarred awake by her Little Brother's screams!

"Gahhh! You wouldn't happen to know a good optometrist, would you?"

Thankfully the cat walks in and scampers right across the kid's chest at that very moment. She starltles the Elf, who leaps off the boy, ripping his pajamas as he goes. The thing opens a window and heads back to the woods. See? That cat's a goddmned hero! Leave the poor thing alone!

When Mom and Final Girl burst into the bedroom Little Brother swears he was attacked by a little monster man, but Mom insists he was only dreaming and should get the fuck over himself so she can go back to bed. When Final Girl shows her the tear in his shirt Mom sees a good opportunity to blame it on the cat. She stalks towards the poor thing with a blanket in her hand but Final Girl scoops her up and escapes with her back to her room.

Now we meet our requisite famous name actor fallen on hard times and forced into b-movies to pay his bills, which in this case is Dan Haggerty, best-known from the theatrical film The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (1974), a popular television spin-off series and a couple of later TV movies continuing the titular character's frontier escapades. Haggerty's acting career was at its nadir following a 1985 conviction for selling cocaine to an undercover police officer, and Elves is fairly typical of the independently-produced bargain-bin trash he was making in the decade after his arrest. Although he never again reached the popular reknown of his most famous role he still managed to work steadily until his death in 2016.

In honor of that beloved Western icon, but mostly because I'm too lazy to remember his character's name in this movie, I'm just going to call him Grizzly Adams for the remainder of the review.

So sad-sack, chain-smoking Grizzly Adams drags his carcinogen-addled bulk across a small-town American sidewalk to a small-town American department store, outside of which a small-town American brass band trio is playing "Deck the Halls." If you want a single, easy-to-digest indicator of how astonishingly cheap this movie is, they couldn't even afford a stock music track of a real brass band playing a public domain song, so they had to mock up a synth version using the brass setting on that $15 Radio Shack Casio keyboard I mentioned earlier.

"You guys got any cigarettes?"

As it happens, Final Girl is a waitress in this department store's cafeteria, which is how she made all the scratch her horrible mother just stole from her and gave to her Little Brother.

The DGFs are there with her, too, sitting at one of the tables and commiserating with her about how awful her Mom is. Final Girl concludes that what her Mom really needs to straighten her right out is to get laid, which brings the girls' conversation around to some sort of illicit sex-related caper they've got planned fof the following night. Gee, I can't wait to find out what that's about.
Looking up at the clock Final Girl realizes she's got a work break coming up and says they should all go down to the toy department and "goof on Santa," which after all that sex talk sounds like an awkward euphemism to my well-trained ears.

As they walk out of the cafeteria and into the store we get a shot from the Elf-Cam, observing them surreptitiously from behind a display case. The sinister critter seems to be stalking Final Girl for some reason, probably connected to her Creepy Grandpa, the dusty old book and the luscious pink crystal.

We cut to an Uptight Asshole Store Manager berating a timid, wilting salesgirl just outside the women's department. It's a brief exchange but it tells you everything you need to know about him: he's petty, mean and enjoys throwing his weight around in a dominating, abusive way, particularly when it comes to the many young women in his employ.

"I'd better just zip this up."

Uptight Asshole spots Grizzly Adams huffing and puffing his way across the room and walks over to greet him in a cold but familiar way. We learn from their conversation that Griz was once a security guard at the establishment but had to be let go because he had a drinking problem. It's probably the only believable thing in the entire movie.

Griz has returned to the fold to tell his former boss that he just got his 90-day sobriety pin from the local chapter of Acoholics Anonymous. Uptight Asshole tells him that's great, why not go get some coffee and donuts at the cafeteria, on the house, but Grizzly Adams says what he really needs is a job.

"All this beard oil is expensive."

Because Uptight Asshole Store Manager is both uptight and an asshole...and also the store manager, he flares a sassy nostril and tells Grizzly Adams sorry, but they contract out for security now and don't need him. Griz gets a little lippy about this, and Uptight Asshole tells him he can calm the fuck down or get the hell out. Griz opts for the former...because free coffee and donuts don't grow on trees.

Meanwhile the girls have arrived at the lineup to see Santa, who's really just a seedy-looking, thirty-something dude in an ill-fitting suit who lazily tells kids what department to take their parents to for whatever useless shit they're asking him for. He has some "comic business" where his beard is constantly falling down, and frankly even a two-year-old would be able to see that this guy is not the real Santa, but just some twitchy jack-wad who took the job to support an all-consuming drug habit.

"Ya like snow, kid? I like snow, too."

Back at the old homestead Mom is sneaking up on the cat. Fuck, fuck, fuck, I fucking knew she was gonna kill the cat!

Long-time readers will already know this about me--largely because I never shut up about it--but I am deeply connected with animals, and I've spent most of the past two decades caring for a feral cat colony, finding homes for over eighty stray and feral cats and kittens, and providing often life-saving care for other animals in need. It's a true vocation, a calling of the soul, and my wife and I have made some pretty extreme sacrifices over the years to be able to keep doing it.

If there is one thing you can do in your movie to completely turn me against it, it would be to kill a cat, especially if it's done in a flagrant, gratuitous manner that doesn't even serve the narrative. This movie goes out of its way to be extra cruel by having the victim cat be pregnant, then it pushes that outrage even further by having Mom stuff the poor thing into a pillow case and drown her in a fucking toilet.

You wouldn't think it possible they could make that any worse, right? Well, you'd be wrong. The whole nauseating process is intercut with what the filmmakers doubtless thought was the hi-lar-ious spectacle of Final Girl sitting on Cocaine Santa's lap, playfully flirting with and teasing him as he slowly inches his fingers up her thigh. At the very moment the cat dies, held under the water by rhymes-with-runt Mom's bare hands, we jump to Santa slipping his hand up Final Girl's skirt and whispering in her ear that he wants her to give him oral sex.

She slaps him hard, but not as hard as this movie just slapped the audience.

Final Girl complains to Uptight Asshole, who sends Cocaine Santa to his dressing room to cool his heels for a few minutes and maybe rub one out. He's far more concerned about a female employee fraternizing with Santa while in uniform than with the fact that Santa just committed a sex crime in front of a room full of children. He basically lets Santa off with a gentle tap on the wrist but threatens to fire Final Girl on the spot...and that's why we need to burn the motherfucking patriarchy to the ground. Am I right, ladies?

Santa skulks back to his dressing room, followed by the Elf-Cam, and lays out a couple of lines of coke to soothe his shaky yuletide nerves. Yeah, I wasn't kidding about the "Cocaine Santa" thing.

He's actually the kid from Santa Claus' Story,all grown up. I'm surprised he made it to adulthood.

Santa tries to snort the coke, but his fake beard brushes it off the mirror. As he curses his rotten luck the Elf sneaks in with a steak knife and stabs him about twenty times right in the balls...which for some reason makes him bleed from his mouth.

He finally understands the parable of the monkey and the pretzel...but alas, it is too late.

After waiting awhile for Cocaine Santa to return from his luxurious digs down by the boiler room, Uptight Asshole sends a pretty young blonde Santa's Helper to go see what's keeping him. It seems to me when a male employee has just demonstrated a penchant for sexually assaulting pretty young blondes in public, immediately sending him another pretty young blonde in private may not be the most prudent course of action, but in this case it all works out just fine. Instead of enduring the lasting trauma of sexual harassment and molestation she merely stumbles upon a genitally mutilated corpse.

We cut to a pallid detective lifting a sheet to look at the body while a uniformed officer dips his finger in Santa's cocaine and gives it a quick taste. He tells the Detective that Final Girl is outside waiting to be interviewed, and as the guy heads out to question her the Uniform Cop rubs some more of the stuff directly into his gums.

Clearly he got into police work for the perks.

The Detective's probing, cogent interrogation of Final Girl lasts all of fifteen seconds. The gist of this speed-dating-style not-quite-a third degree is "A guy feels you up, now he's dead. Didja do it?" He's a man of few words and all of them are stupid.

Final Girl is pretty bland and matter-of-fact about the whole thing, and not just because her character is drastically underdeveloped with very little personality and few recognizable human emotions. She was also working in a public place at the time of the murder, with dozens of potential eyewitnesses to give her an ironclad alibi, so she's surely not going to get upset about this pale buffoon and his flimsy suspicions about her guilt.

Who knows, though? Maybe he's secretly brilliant and plotting some Columbo-level cat-and-mouse, twelve-dimensional chess thing to force her to confess.

Then again, maybe not.

When Final girl gets home the first thing she does is start calling for the cat, while Mom stands at the sink smirking to herself. The one-letter-off-from "punt" gives a cursory glance over her shoulder to inform her daughter that she looks like shit. Final Girl explains "I had a rough day at work. Santa got murdered," in the off-hand tone one might use to say that the copier jammed or the restroom was out of paper towels.

It's plain that Mom knows nothing about the incident as she thinks Final Girl is making a tasteless joke, and I have to wonder how in the hell the police could have interrogated an underaged suspect in a murder investigation without even contacting her family. Isn't that kind of the first thing they have to do? Who trained these fucking people? Also, this seems like a small enough city that news of something like a murdered department store Santa would have immediately spread around town like herpes in a whorehouse. People love that kind of seedy, unsavory violence, especially around the holidays.

Final Girl continues to call into the still, chilly night for Agamemnon, and we see that the Elf is hanging around below her window, lustful and lovesick and biding his time.

Later that evening Grizzly Adams is heading home, smoking heavily and fatalistically mumbling to himself "The Surgeon General says 'a pack a day keeps your lungs nice and gray,'" which indicates to me he is at least aware that he has a problem. He gets to the door of a beat-up, Airstream trailer and finds it padlocked shut with a "Notice to Vacate" taped to the door.

I want to let any enthusiasts out there know that I didn't actually look up whether that's an Airstream camper or not, because I don't really give a shit.

We cut back to outside the house where the Elf is getting a bit peckish. He sniffs around the garden and begins digging in the spot where mom buried the cat.

Up in her room final Girl is sitting on her bed doodling in her sketch pad. She looks at the bandage on her hand and removes it to find that not only has the cut completely healed, there's absolutely no trace that it was ever there in the first place. This does not seem to confuse or surprise her in any way, she just stares at it in an idle, half-engaged way, like she's bored and pretending to read her palm.

"My love line says I'm about to meet a short, dark stranger, but my career line says I'm only gonna be in six more movies."

She falls asleep, but awakens later to hear a scratching at her window, which is a second floor window, mind you. Thinking it's Agamemnon asking to be let in she gets out of bed and pulls aside the curtain to see the Elf munching away at her poor little kitty friend. The Elf gets startled again and bolts, but not before graphically smearing the bloodied remains of the cat on the window.

This is not the way to win me back, Elves.

Later on Final Girl is sitting at the dining room table while Mom stalks around behind her and bitches about being woken up for a second night in a row. Final Girl insists she saw some kind of little troll, but Mom says it was just a raccoon and she'll call an exterminator to take care of it in the morning.

She seems to get off on seeing animals suffer. Maybe the Orkin Man is gonna get lucky.

Creepy Grandpa rolls in with Final Girl's sketch pad and demands to know where she saw the big boob lady with the funky tattoos. She tells him she made it up and he frantically re-accuses her of having gone into the forbidden woods. Mom steps between them and sends her daughter to bed because she's tired of her shit. She's also tired of Grandpa's shit. She's also just plain tired.

Once Final Girl is gone Grandpa grabs Mom's arm and says "They're here! The Elfen-Hunte!" Which translates as "Elf-Chuckled," by the way, so clearly they just made up something they thought sounded German without checking to see what it meant. He raves on a bit about the Elf killing the cat and dragging it to the window, but Mom ain't having this nonsense, not tonight, not ever. She tells him with some visible satisfaction that she killed the cat. Sure, a raccoon or something may have dug it up, dragged it to the window, and smeared it against the glass, but it was her wot done the murder.

She leaves him to go get her precious rest, but it's obvious he's not satisfied with her explanation. He knows what he knows and if we can stomach about another hour of this bullshit we'll know what he knows, too.

After a brief montage of Grandpa gently fondling his pink crystal, Final Girl tossing and turning in her bed and the Elf gazing lustfully up at her bedroom window we dissolve to Grizzly Adams sitting at a table in the store cafeteria the following morning, enjoying a cup of coffee with a cigarette between his fingers, a full ashtray in front of him and an entire case of Camels at his side.

He's the picture of health.

Final Girl comes over to refill his cup and there's a relatively tender moment where Griz notes how sad she looks and they bond over her dead cat and his dead childhood dog. The dialog is a little stilted, but I must grudgingly admit it feels passably authentic and it's as close to fully human as any of the characters get in the entire movie.

Uptight Asshole suddenly bursts in to offer Griz a job filling in as Santa, which to be fair, when you look at the guy, it was kind of inevitable. We cut to him ho-ho-ho-ing with a baby on his lap, and when he gets up to give the kid back to its mother we see that it's piddled all over his leg.

Back in the dressing room he cleans himself off while chatting idly with the tape outline of the dead guy the police left on the floor. The blood stains are still there, too, apparently having had just a cursory wet-mop run over them, which just seems pretty sloppy and unprofessional to me. Has no one heard of bleach? He crouches down and notices a weird little symbol carved into the concrete next to where the body was found. It seems distantly familiar to him and he sleepily ponders its possible meaning.

The artist formerly known as Cocaine Santa?

Griz's curiosity is piqued, but he tries to talk himself out of getting involved. "I'm not a detective anymore," he mutters, "I'm not even a department store detective anymore...I'm Santa." Resigned to his fate, he heads back out, probably to have some bratty, ungrateful child piss all over his leg again.

Back in the house Grandpa has visitors in the form of a Talky Nazi with an accent almost as bad as his own and two spear-carrier chorus Nazis who have no dialog but look real nice in their slick jackets and skinny ties. I suspect they are Community Theater Nazis...the very worst kind.

"We won't be doing "Fiddler on the Roof," I can tell you!"

They've come looking for Grandpa because the time of their wild, elf-centric prophecy is at hand. Talky Nazi produces a small shard of pink crystal and sets it on Grandpa's desk as the Minions stand guard at the door. Grandpa gets out his own pink crystal and fits the second piece into it, creating a perfect, glistening dildo.

Grandpa pulls a gun on the interlopers, unsure of his loyalties after the many years of waiting for the Elf plot to come to fruition. Talky Nazi just keeps calmly talking. He picks up a picture of Final Girl and exclaims "It's her...your granddaughter," adding excitedly that she is now the most important person on Earth, because from her the New Order will be born. Presumably via some sweet Elf-lovin', probably on a Blue Monday.

Grandpa has decided that he doesn't want any more of this sinister plan in which he's been a central player since the 1940's. He vows to release his Granddaughter from playing her part in it, too, but Talky Nazi sees her acquiescence to their needs as something predetermined. He gently pries the gun from Grandpa's hand and heads for the door, cautioning as he leaves that "With or without is happening."

We cut to closing time at the store cafeteria where Final Girl is cleaning up and getting ready to go home. As she knocks over a tray of donuts we see that one of the Nazi Minions is at a table pretending to read a book.

They didn't have a copy of "Mein Kampf" so he settled for the sequel, "Mein Kampfy Chair."

The DGFs show up now and one of them gives a sneaky peek of a new, snazzy red bra that she's worn special for their evening's romp. The other DGF says "Give it up! Dave doesn't like red," as if that would be a deal-breaker for a horny teen-aged boy when sex is involved.

There's more wooden teen banter of the "please, for the love of all that it good and holy, stick a pencil in my eardrums" variety, and we learn that the big caper they'd hinted at earlier involves sneaking into the store that evening to have some frisky time with three boys from school.

Do department stores even have cafeterias anymore?

Next we see Grizzly Adams putting his Santa shit away. There's a cot in the room and it's plain as a pancake he's planning on sleeping there, but first he's got an errand to run. He heads out to the employee door and disconnects the alarm, then puts some tape over the latch so he can get back in.

A few minutes later Final Girl goes to leave through the same door. She tries to put some tape over it, too and is puzzled to find that someone has already done it. Instead of getting spooked about being caught or giving so much as a single thought about who else might be sneaking back into the building that night, she just shrugs her shoulders and leaves to carry on with the caper.

Meanwhile Grizzly Adams arrives at the local library, hoping to research the rune he found on the dressing room floor.

Can you imagine smoking in a library today? Can you imagine even going to a library when you could just use Google?

As he thumbs through a book about mystical symbols he remembered reading back in his college days he licks his fingers repeatedly, either in anticipation of turning the page or because they're coated with nicotine and he's not used to going this long without a puff. He finds a picture of the rune but the next few pages of the book, ostensibly those explaining its significance, have been torn out. He takes down the name of the author and the university where he worked, hoping to look the guy up later.

Now we have Final Girl and her two DGFs sneaking into the store. There's a bit of dull schtick where DGF1 rips the tape off the door on their way in, then Griz tries to get in but can't, then Final Girl realizes what her dumb friend has done and goes to put the tape back on so the boys can get inside, then Griz picks up a bar by a dumpster and goes back to try and force the door, only to have it swing right open when he pushes on it.

So Griz enters, removes the tape--again--then re-connects the alarm and heads back to his basement bungalow to read a book about alcoholism recovery. He barely gets into it before he hears an unusual sound. He goes out onto the salesfloor to have a look, watched from the shadows by the Elf.

Meanwhile the girls borrow/steal some sexy/revealing clothes and get themselves gussied up for their hot dates.

There's a whole lot of 80's going on here.

Grizzly Adams steps out onto a balcony and spots them at the make-up counter. He walks down to confront them, but Final Girl correctly guesses that he can't really do much about it because he's not supposed to be there either. He agrees to let them slide as long as they don't steal anything and they clean up after themselves.

There's some more tedious cutting back and forth now, first with Grandpa and the Nazis, then with the boys trying to get in the locked door, then with the girls looking for a suitable place to make some whoopie. None of it's worth describing in any detail so I'm gonna cut straight to the action.

The Nazis break down the back door, setting off the alarm. As they enter they drop the battered body of one of the boys on the floor. We never see what happened to the other two boys, so we're left to assume they're lying dead in the alley. No one cares. They were on-screen for less than a minute and barely registered as human beings anyway. The Nazis head inside to look for Final Girl so the can take her back to Grandpa to await the fulfillment of their prophecy.

Of course any rational person engaged in criminal tresspass at a retail establishment would flee the premises immediately at the sound of a burgular alarm, but instead the three girls decide to split up and go looking for their boyfriends, whom they assume set it off and are now in the building. Griz, meanwhile finds the body at the exit door and realizes there's something pretty heavy going down. To his credit his first instinct is not to run, but to head back inside to protect the girls from whatever dangerous maniac just broke into the place.

DGF1 decides to sneak into an elevator in her purloined lingerie, hoping to bump into red-hating Dave so they can get wiggly in a corner somewhere before the cops arrive. DGF2 stands outside the elevator door when it closes and stares perplexed by the up/down buttons, as if they're written in cuneform and require special training to decipher.

These are not bright people, but at least we don't have to put up with them much longer.

When the elevator with DGF1 stops at the next floor the three Nazis pile in and try to interrogate her about Final Girl's whereabouts. When it becomes clear she's too hysterically frightened to give them any information one of the Minions gives up, pills out a luger and blows her brain all over the elevator walls, the silver lining of which is that it at least definitively proves she has one.

Meanwhile Final Girl spots the Elf staring at her lustfully from across the sporting goods department and leaps behind a display counter to hide.

"Since your boyfriend isn't coming, maybe I could come instead, tee hee!"

The Nazis step out of the elevator just as Griz reaches the bottom of the stairs. He dashes towards the gun department as the two Minions spot him and open fire. When he ducks behind a counter he finds Final Girl cowering there. He opens the unlocked firearms display case and pulls out a couple of handguns, then finds another unlocked case full of ammo about two feet behind him...a very secure arrangement. He loads up and returns fire.

During the ensuing gunfight Talky Nazi closes his eyes and mutters to himself "And his angels shall rise to impede us!" as if he's quoting biblical scripture. I sure don't remember an end-times elf uprising in my Bible, but maybe I skipped Sunday School that day to go read something legitemately educational instead.

During the melee, Final Girl spots the Elf again. Griz sees it too, this time and when he asks what the hell it is she responds "I think it's a troll...and I think it knows you're trying to help me." I'm not going to debate the merits of that statement, suffice to say the Elf decides he'd rather not be in the middle of an active firefight and shuffles off to seek some mischief elsewhere.

Meanwhile GDF2 is still waiting for the elevator, because she's still having trouble processing the idea of hiding someplace or maybe using the stairs. The elevator door opens and she finds GDF1's body, and she runs screaming into a nearby storeroom. The Elf is there waiting, posing amongst some half-assembled manequins. He chases her out into the seasonal department, and as he's putzing around amidst the holiday decor he spots a little mechanical elf doll with a Santa hat on its head and thinks "Hey...I'm an elf! Maybe I should wear a Santa hat, too!"

There's your money shot, people.

Then he brutally hacks DGF2 to death with his steak knife, leaving her body sprawled out between the outspread legs of a giant teddy bear.

All of this makes me wonder: where the hell are all those contract security people Uptight Asshole was talking about earlier? The alarm has been going off now for what must be something like twenty-five minutes. Are there no first responders in this town?

At any rate Talky Nazi gets a glimpse of Final Girl peering from behind the counter and realizes his goons have been shooting at his precious Aryan flower for the past fifteen minutes. He shouts at them to stop firing.

He figures they've got to get rid of Grizzly Adams somehow if they're going to get to Final Girl, but he decides it's too dangerous to do it here. We finally hear the oncoming wail of police sirens in the distance as the Nazi trio retreats and escapes.

When Final Girl and Griz emerge from their bunker there's a brief gag where Griz pauses to look up at a taxidermy bear, which is both a nod to his co-star Ben the Bear from The Adventures of Grizzly Adams and an astringent reminder of how steadily his career had been circling down the toilet since the series' cancellation back in 1978.

They walk over to GDF2's corpse and just before the scene fades out Griz notices the same rune carved into the floor he saw in the dressing room, this one full to the brim with the dead girl's blood.

I think it's supposed to represent one of those s-hooks you screw into the ceiling to hang a plant.

The following morning the store is full of cops and forensics people combing the place for evidence. Fake Columbo is there, too, and he harangues Grizzly Adams for getting himself involved in such a mess, saying he was the best detective he ever saw but, damnit, he drank it all away....blah blah blah. It's the same ex-cop anti-hero bullshit you've heard in a thousand better movies by a thousand better actors than this pasty, withered fencepost with his pasted-on scowl and dollar-store mustache.

Griz pleads with his old pal for a little time to look into the case on his end, and as a personal favor Fake Columbo gives him 24 hours.

Now Uptight Asshole comes in, incensed that his store has been left shot-up and in shambles the day before Christmas Eve. He gives Final Girl a raft of shit for being in the store at all, blaming her for everything that happened and telling her she's responsible for every penny in damages the Community Theater Nazis caused. When he complains about the blood stains on the floor, though, she's had all she can take and fires back at him, saying she's sorry her best friends' blood has soiled his precious concrete and would he like her to clean it the hell up for him? Instead of being chastised for his grotesque insensitivity he raises a hand to hit her, but Griz appears, grabs his arm and tells him "if you're gonna hit somebody hit me!"

Uptight Asshole sure ain't gonna try that with a dude who wrassles bears for fun, but he does tell them that they're both fired and he wants them out of the store immediately.

"And I expect you to pay for the coffee and donuts too!"

It's early in the morning now as Griz and Final Girl head to his car to chat about the weird situation they've found themselves in. He promises her he's going to get to the bottom of it and offers to drive her home and explain to her folks about the danger she's in. She's sure it won't do any good but he's determined to try to protect her in any way he can.

Back in the now-darkened seasonal department the Elf pulls the sheet off DGF2's corpse, caresses her shoulder then lifts up her arm and bites off a couple of her fingers.

I know he's hungry but I have questions.

Having the Elf run free in a darkened store implies that there's no one else in there, so in the time it took Griz and Final Girl to walk from the store to his car the police completed their forensic analysis, packed up their shit and left the building? Did they also forget to call the coroner to pick up the bodies? Did Uptight Asshole decide to blow off getting the store cleaned up for one of the busiest shopping days of the year and go out for an omelette instead? Aren't fingers the least filling and nutritious part of the human body?

Grizzly Adams drives Final Girl home and explains to Mom and Grandpa what happened overnight, and we get even more evidence that this town has the worst-trained and least professional police department in the country, because this is the very first time they're hearing about their teenage dependent's involvement in three murders over the course of two days. In fact, Mom flat-out tells Griz he's lying, so it's obvious no police officials have contacted her in the entire thirty-six hours since Cocaine Santa got his crotch pureed.

She accuses the two of being on drugs and threatens to call the cops and have Griz removed from the premises. He tries to talk some sense into her, but she won't listen. She heads out to the kitchen to dial 911.

"Listen lady, if you can't trust Grizzly Adams you can't trust anyone."

Final Girl tells Griz he'd better cheese it before the police arrive, and as he's heading out Grandpa rolls over to interrogate him about the creature he saw. Griz figures this Teutonic tosser has the inside scoop about what's been going on but the old coot tells him to forget it, that he's up against something he can't possibly understand and should just walk away, because really bad things are about to happen.

Then there's this delightful pearl of shit dialogue, delivered by Griz with his trademark combination of droopy eyes and drowsy earnest: "Hey why don't you tell me somethin'? You tell me here what's goin' on, you seem to know everything that's goin' on around here!"

"It's redundant and also repetitive, too."

So Grizzly Adams grudgingly leaves, but before he drives off the property he pulls out the book he got at the library and decides to go find the professor who wrote it.

Meanwhile Grandpa tells Final Girl to pack a bag, that the time has come for them to get out of Dodge and for him to tell her many strange, dark things about her destiny and the part he himself played in creating it.

We're at the point now of the big reveal explaining the sinister machinations underpinning the plot, and I have to say I've seen worse conceits for orchestrating a massive exposition dump. We get one part of the story from an academic perspective as Griz questions a couple of college professors regarding the significance of the rune and its implications for what he's seen with his own sleepy eyes, and we get the other side from Grandpa as he spills the beans to Final Girl about his shameful Nazi past. It would have been a nice little narrative trick if only the acting weren't so bad and the story so repulsive and stupid.

First Griz tracks down the guy who wrote the Rune book that, if you'll recall, he remembered first reading when he was in college. Dan Haggerty was born in 1941, so that would have been sometime around 1960, nearly three decades before Elves takes place. This Professor guy looks like he's maybe forty at the outside, so he must have been a once-in-a-generation child prodigy to have written such a learned tome and been teaching university level classes at the age of nine.

The Professor looks at the rune and says sure, he knows what it is, then takes Griz on a whirlwind walking tour of a rare books library seeking a particular volume with which to bolster the point he will eventually make about it. All the while he's recounting the tale of Noah's Ark from the book of Genesis in a manic, pressured-speech pitter-patter. He reminds us of God's displeasure at Adam and Eve's first transgression in the Garden, of His frustration with men's pettiness and foibles and the bad habits of His own fallen angels who had been copulating with human women at the time, and how He'd finally had enough and decided to kill almost everyone and wipe the slate clean.

So God ordered Noah and his family to build a boat so they could save themselves and the animals. He specified that among those species to be saved were "the little creeping things." Now if you assumed God meant insects, or maybe lizards, or possibly small rodents like mice or rats, you'd be solidly in harmony with the unanimous consensus of Biblical scholars both in modern times and throughout church history. According to this guy, however, what God really meant by "little creeping things" was elves.

He should have his own show on the History Channel.

The Prof tells Griz that the little s-hook symbol is the traditionally accepted mark of the elves, particularly those who like to hang spider plants in their little elf-lairs to kind of liven up the place and bring the room together. He finally finds the book he was looking for and shows Grizzly Adams a drawing of a trio of elves raping a human woman.

That's a very specific target audience for an Only Fans page.

Griz asks if there's any cult or sect around today who might still believe in this unholy horseshit. The Prof says no, but there was a group who believed it about fifty years before. It seems the Nazis were way into that elvin gang-bang shit.

He says unfortunately Nazis aren't really his area so he doesn't have much in the way of specifics, but one of his colleagues, a Dr. O'Connor, knows more about the Nazi occult stuff than anyone. When Griz asks where he might find the guy the Prof says since it's Christmas Eve he's probably at home with his family.

As Griz drives off to make his second academic visit of the evening we see one of the Nazi Minions take off in another car and follow him. We also see that despite it having been early in the morning when he left Final Girl at home it's now completely dark outside.

Back in the study at Final Girl's house we see Grandpa pouring some scented lubricating oil over his sexy pink penis crystal, which commences to glow with an erotic inner light. He coils a little chain with a crucifix medallion around it and wraps the whole thing up in a red velvet cloth.

We cut to Final Girl upstairs in her bedroom, picking out clothes from a drawer, and if the lack of sunlight is any guide she's probably been packing up her suitcase for the past twelve hours.

Y'all remember that trigger warning, right? The thing about the incest? They're gonna go into that right now.

Mom walks in to say she's finally talked to the police! She grudgingly admits that her daughter was telling the truth about the murders. Final Girl says she wishes her dad were there and believes he would have known just what to do about a bunch of Nazis and a maniacal elf running around murdering people all over the place. Mom spends about ten seconds pretending to give a shit about her daughter's feelings then totally goes off on her, calling her a self-absorbed narcissistic bitch and blaming her for her friends' deaths.

Final girl shouts back that she hates her Mom, that she wishes it was her who had died all those years ago instead of her father...and now we learn the repugnant truth. Mom's face breaks into an insufferable, ironic smirk as she tells Final Girl that if she wants to talk to her father all she has to do is go down to the study. Final Girl makes the obvious and accurate observation that there's no one in the study but her Grandpa...and mom tells her she's absolutely right..."He's your grandfather, but he's also your father."

I told you this movie was icky.

Then Mom slaps her, because she's still that word that you could make from "duct" if you replaced the "d" with an "n" and reversed the first three letters.

Now we're inside a big suburban house that's been all tarted up with festive holiday lights and decorations. The doorbell rings and a Hispanic maid opens the door, and Griz bursts in asking to speak with Doctor O'connor, who as it happens just about to carve the Christmas Eve turkey for a quiet Christmas Eve dinner with his family. Oddly, the dining room is located on the second floor, directly at the top of a flight of stairs, which just seems wrong to me.

Griz apologizes for the intrusion, explaining that he got the address from the Professor. He insists that it's a matter of life and death, and that he needs to get some immediate answers about what the Nazis were planning with the elves.

O'Connor naturally thinks he's dealing with a nut case and tries to tell the maid to call the police, but his Spanish is worse than her English and she doesn't understand what he's trying to say. Griz observes that by the time the guy gets through to her about the police he could have his info and be gone, so the Doctor grudgingly tells him the sordid tale of the Nazi Elf Project as his wife and two young daughters listen attentively from their places at the table.

It seems the Nazis hatched a plot to cross breed elves and humans, mixing science and the occult to produce an unstoppable Master Race of super soldiers who couldn't be hurt or killed by mortal means. The plan was to produce a perfect Aryan host female through an incestuous coupling between a perfect Aryan father and a perfect Aryan daughter. The host would then be raw-dogged by an eager elf, with the consummation to occur at midnight on Christmas Eve.

"Now tell us the one about Josef Mengele again, Daddy! That's our favorite!"

Back in Dadpa's study the old pervert is telling Final Girl that sure, he got jiggy with his own daughter, but it was all for science and the glory of the Reich! Plus she was drugged and he didn't even enjoy it, so no harm, no foul. He did what he felt he had to do, for the Fuhrer and the Aryan race, but now he says he loves her so gosh darn much he's had second thoughts about sacrificing her virginity and her future and the fate of the entire world to a two foot tall, hook-nosed, pointy-eared hell-spawn. He says he wants to explain how to save her, but she's reached her weird/disturbing famly secrets quota for the day and can't listen to another word. She runs upstairs and into her bedroom to try to take stock of everything that's happening around her.

Meanwhile Mom prepares a nice relaxing bath and listens to some calming Christmas tunes on the radio. She does one of those "I'm stressed to the point of derangement so I'm gonna frantically apply way too much lipstick while I bravely fight back tears" things male screenwriters seem to believe ladies do when they're alone and upset.

"Only the violent application of cosmetic products can assuage my existential pain!"

So Final Girl has run away from her Dadpa and up to her room, unable to process what he's told her and unwilling to listen further to his insane Nazi rantings. Little Brother comes in and innocently asks her if she thinks they're going to get any decent presents that year, because there's barely anything under the tree. Final Girl, desperate for the sort of normality his question represents reaches out and pulls him to her breast...which probably gives the nasty little perv the thrill of his young life.

Although it's never explicitly stated, Little Brother's dad is obviously the guy in the photos Final Girl was looking at earlier in the film, though why anyone would have voluntarily boinked that cat-murdering termagant of a Mom is beyond my feeble comprehension. To make the film ever-so-slightly more interesting than it actually is, I'm going to pretend that the Nazis, monitoring Dadpa and Final Girl from afar, arranged a fatal accident to get the guy out of the way, lest he figure out what was going on and become an impediment to their blasphemous plans at some later date.

Elsewhere Grizzly Adams is driving along back towards town, still being followed by the Nazi Minion. As usual when he's not actually smoking he's absolutely dying for a cigarette. When he tries to fire one up he finds that the car lighter isn't working. He pounds on the console with his fist and a bundle of dynamite falls out at his feet!

So...I need to call out a little itty bitty bit of bullshit here. Not about a Nazi Minion wiring a bomb to a car lighter. That's pretty much Nazi Minion 101. My issue is that because Grizzly Adams smokes about a half a pack of cigarettes every fifteen minutes in this movie, he would have noticed that lighter wasn't working the instant he got in the car and been blown to carcinogen-soaked smithereens something like an hour ago. It's patently absurd and I don't cotton to it...but then again this is a movie about horny Nazi elves trying to fuck their way to world domination, so maybe I need to get some perspective.

So Griz, thinking as fast as he can with all that lard and tar clogging his arteries and slowing the flow of blood to his brain, drives off the road into a field and jumps out. The car continues on its own about another hundred yards or so then explodes in a massive fireball.

That's half the budget right there.

When Nazi Minion stops and gets out of his own car to admire his handiwork Griz tackles and beats the shit out of him. He interrogates him old-school, rogue cop-style, about Final Girl and the Elves and just what the hell he and his Nazi pals are up to, but before he gets any answers the Minion pops a suicide capsule and dies.

Griz spots an s-hook elf-rune pin on the guy's collar, pockets it and looks around sadly at all the carnage, but if you thought for an instant that a burning car and a dead guy were gonna stop Grizzly Adams from defending Final Girl from a concupiscent elf and a bunch of Community Theater Nazis you've got anothing thing coming. He shakes off his ennui, takes the Minion's car and just keeps on truckin' back to town.

"Goddamn cigarette lighter better work in this one!"

Back at the house Mom slips off her robe and gets in the tub, and now I see why Little Brother's dad boinked the cat-murdering termagant.

That's how they get ya, fellas.

There's a clumsy edit just as Mom turns to undo her robe, and it's obvious the woman who gets into the tub is a body double in a bad wig. Apparently actress Deanna Lund was unwilling to go nude for the approximately $27.85 they were paying her for her role. When we get another clumsy edit to a close-up of the real Mom settling into the tub she takes a deep breath, and for just an instant we see her heaving busom wrapped up in a red and white striped towel, fully covered and completely dry.

Speaking of shitty editing...

If there's anything at all these filmmakers have demonstrated a talent for thus far it's in making quick, simple things like packing a suitcase or drawing a bath seem to take forever and making long, complicated things like police forensic procedures and Grizzly Adams' beard grooming routine seem quick and effortless. It's all in how poorly the film is cut, but that poor cutting is also something of a necessity.

These filmmakers may not have had a particularly good story to work with and that story may have been needlessly sick and unpleasant, but it does does manage to just barely hold itself together with its own internal logic. There just isn't enough of it to justify a feature film, and the production team lacked the narrative and cinematic skill to expand upon it effectively. Instead of genuinely scary or exciting set pieces we get purely functional elements stretched to their tedious limits to fill the void left by the filmmakers' utter lack of inventiveness.

Did we really need all that back and forth with the department store door and the masking tape on the latch? Or the endless shots of Grizzly Adams smoking and walkng and smoking and driving and smoking, visiting two professors when he should have been able to get what he needed from one? Or how about the oodles of out-of-place and obnubilated Elf-Cam bullshit? Now that we're finally careening towards a climax here we only have--if I'm being generous--about ten minutes of story still to tell, but there's more than twenty-five minutes left in which to tell it.

Our final act begins with the Elf creeping around the house and eventually making its way up to the bathroom where Mom has been soaking in the tub and wiping her face with a rag for approximately 72 hours. The little fella doesn't like how she slapped his sweetheart earlier, so he pushes the radio into the water and electrocutes her. The body double writhes and twiches torturously, the lights flare and flicker, and the Elf nods his head in sadistic satisfaction.

Making it all the more obvious that he's a rubber hand puppet.

Grizzly Adams reaches the front door just as the lights go out. He busts it open and heads inside, calling out for Final Girl. She shouts for him to come upstairs and Little Brother hands him a flashlight so they can go see what happened to Mom. Needless to say, when they find out they're not as happy about it as I was.

Griz says they've got to leave the house immediately, but Dadpa blocks the door and tells them it's no use running because the Elf will simply follow them wherever they go. He insists that they need to hear what he has to say if they're to have any chance of defeating it.

Back in the study Dadpa tells Griz all the Nazi incest stuff we've already heard about, but I guess if you're really into that sort of thing to the point of building your entire movie around it you're gonna feel it's worth savoring. Griz shows him the lapel pin and asks him what it means to him, and by way of answer Dadpa grabs Final Girl's sketch of "The Virgin of Antichristmas," holds the Elf-symbol pin in one hand and a pencil in the other, and demonstrates that if you draw just a few more lines on the boob-tattoos they magically become swastikas.

It's like a really lame Aryan party trick.

Dadpa explains that when the Elf nails his daughter/granddaughter at midnight the resulting child will be neither elf nor human, but something else entirely, something infinitely more evil and destructive. He asks if Griz has read his Book of Revelations recently, because that hybrid mutant elf-people baby is gonna be the goddamned Antichrist.

Dadpa starts to tell Final Girl about the phallic "elf crystal" and how she already has inside of her the knowledge of how to destroy the critter with it, but just then they hear Talky Nazi calling for Dadpa, full of frolic and whimsy, walking on air in anticipation of their big night of elf rape and Master Racing.

Griz makes himself scarce, and when the guy steps into the room holding a video camera, intending to make a record of the happy event for the human posterity there won't even be after it happens, he leaps from the shadows and punches him across the jaw. Unfortunately the other Minion appears and starts beating the shit out of Griz.

Dadpa pulls his gun and shoots the Minion twice in the belly, but the big, buff guy manages to take the gun and throw the old coot off his wheelchair before collapsing to the floor himself. Then Talky Nazi pickes up the gun and kills Grandpa, then Griz tackles him again and knocks the gun back to the floor.

As they tussle Final Girl and Little Brother head for the door. She looks over at the crystal sitting on the edge of Dadpa's desk but despite his having explicitly told her that she needed it she decides to go without it. As we'll see shortly, this decision serves no purpose except to add an additional ten minutes to the film.

Just as the kids are skedaddling the Minion suddenly sits up, grabs the gun and shoots Grizzly Adams, then falls back dead.

In the immortal words of Ferdinand the duck, "Christmas means carnage!"

So now it's just Final Girl, Little Brother and Talky Nazi, who's been beat up a bit but is still kicking. The two kids head for the forest, and Talky Nazi gets in his little white Nazimobile to follow on a road along the edge of the wood. There's a lot of running and driving in the dim and barely-discernable night, but eventually Talky runs himself off the road and flips the car...not to avoid traffic or an errant deer or anything, but just because he's a fucking moron.

He learned to drive through a correspondence course.

Wouldn't you know it, Final Girl ends up back at the very spot in the woods that felt so right to her just a few nights earlier when all she wanted to do was light a candle and bitch about Christmas with her Doomed Generic Friends. Just as she realizes exactly where she is Talky Nazi shows up.

She trips backward over a ditch trying to get away from him, painfully twisting her ankle. Talky Nazi tries to help her up, but she screams at him to get the fuck away from her. He tries to explain how he loves her because she's so perfect and so special and he'd sure never ever do anything to hurt the precious Antichristian brood mare he's spent his life waiting for, but she continues to scratch and scream and kick at him.

Suddenly the Elf appears and, believing Talky Nazi to be attacking his future baby-mama, shoots him with the gun he apparently found lying around between the corpses back at the house.

"At least we got Terre Haute!"

Remember how Final Girl decided to leave the crystal back home? Yeah, now she decides she needs it. She sends Little Brother back for it and we get ten minutes of the kid running in the dark while the Elf tries out a little awkward foreplay, offers her a cockroach to eat, then leans in and starts stroking her milky white Aryan thighs.

Little Bro makes it back to the house, but when he reaches the spot where the crystal was sitting on the desk he's flabbergasted to find that it's gone. He looks around in confusion when suddenly Grizzly Adams, wounded but still very much alive, pops up from behind the desk and hands it to him. He twlls him his sister needs it, so he'd better run and give it to her right away.

"Yeah, what the fuck you think I came back here for fatty?"

So Little Bro makes it back to the clearing before the hardcore hanky panky has commenced. He gingerly steps over to his sis to hand her the crystal. The Elf seems somewhat fearful of the thing and withdraws from Final Girl as soon as she has it in her hands. She gazes longingly at it, then fondles it again in that vaguely sexual way, muttering to her Brother, "Grandfather said I would know what to do, that it was inside of me."

Something else is gonna be inside you if you don't hurry the fuck up.

There's some fuzzy flashbacks to the boobie lady drawing, then Final Girl slowly, instinctively crawls over to the place in the earth from which the Elf initially emerged. She thrusts the crystal into the vaginal cleft in the soil with a primal shout.

That doesn't look like crystal we saw earlier...

...and I think she just nicked a gas line with it.

Smoke begins pouring from the Elf's mouth and he screams in agony. The director must not have been happy with how the raw footage looked, though, because he added a cheesy 80's music video spiral lag effect to it, transforming the climax of the film into an inscrutably obscure and nebulous blob of pulsating grey muck.

The Elf's last gasp, I think.

Final Girl and Little Brother awaken the next morning in the middle of the woods, where it's just begun to snow. We get a long, slow zoom out as serene, hopeful music plays, then suddenly a dissonant chord spoils the calm of the moment. We fade to a little glowing elf antichrist fetus, ostensibly gestating inside Final Girl's womb. Either it was an immaculate conception or the blue-balled Elf prematurely ejaculated so hard his nut shot all the way through Final Girl's underpants and up into her uterus.

Either way this miserable fucking movie is finally, mercifully over.

The End

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm gonna go curl up in my own fetal position, get wasted on eggnog and cry myself to sleep.

Please don't wake me until December.

As always, Cheers and thanks for reading!

Written by Bradley Lyndon in July, 2021.

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