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Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

USA 1988
produced by
Eric Gardner, Mark Pierson, Michael Rachmil (executive) for NBC, New World, Queen B Productions
directed by James Signorelli
starring Cassandra Peterson, William Morgan Sheppard, Daniel Greene, Edie McClurg, Ellen Dunning, Susan Kellermann, Pat Crawford Brown, William Duell, Kris Kamm, Scott Morris, Ira Heiden, Jeff Conaway, Frank Collison, Jack Fletcher, Charles Woolf, Bill Morey, Lynne Marie Stewart, Deryl Carroll, Marie Sullivan, Robert Benedetti, Kurt Fuller, Kate Brown, Hugh Gillin, Eve Smith, Raleigh Bond, Phil Rubenstein, Larry Flash Jenkins, Damita Jo Freeman, Tress MacNeille, Edwina Moore, Mario Celario, Lee McLaughlin, Bill Swearingen, Bill Dance, William Cort, Sharon Hays, Bill Cable, John Paragon, Joey Arias, Tony Burrer, Alan Dewames, Tim Hill, James Hogan, Alex Magno, Sebastian Russell, Read Scot, James Zyzack Sterling, Peter Blanco jr, Gabriel Colbert, Michael A. Jackson, Derek Givens, Deron McBee
written by Sam Egan, John Paragon, Cassandra Peterson, music by James B. Campbell

Elvira

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) is a successful horror host - who just ditches her job when her new boss makes a pass at her. Now she thinks she has a Las Vegas show lined up for herself anyways, until she learns she has to put the money forward to put it on - money she doesn't have. So when she learns that her aunt she didn't even know about has died and has remembered her in her will, she's over the moon - only to then learn all she has inherited is a house in a state of disrepair, a poodle and a cook book. And because her car has just broken down she suddenly finds herself stranded in the small town that was the home of her aunt, a small town that's not very kind to alluring strangers in sexy dresses like she is - at least not the old folks are, let by Chastity Pariah (Edie McClurg), leader of the decency brigade in town. The young folks are rather fond of Elvira though and help her fix up her place, much to the dismay of their sheepish parents.

But there's a far bigger challenge for Elvira in this small town, and that's her uncle Vincent (William Morgan Sheppard), who has been disinherited by Elvira's late aunt and will now stop at nothing to get the cookbook - which Elvira doesn't even understand until she finds out it's actually a book of spells ... and she soon uses it to get back at the townfolks who have treated her like dirt in the name of "decency", by turning their annual picnic into an orgy. A childish prank of course, but Uncle Vincent uses this to accuse her of being a witch and convince the townfolks to have her burnt at a stake. Elvira's of course not out of tricks yet - but neither is Uncle Vincent ...

 

Much like its titular character, this movie is loud, at times crude, not 100% politically correct, sexy and prone to exaggeration - which also makes the film a perfect child of the 1980s, a time when subtlety took a bit of a backseat in popular culture. And that's what one has to keep in mind when watching Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, this was always a piece of mass culture (and thus drew its inspiration from there), never intended to be a piece of art - but if you see it as a document of its time, you're almost sure to enjoy it, thanks to many an intentionally campy performance by the supporting cast, and a very exhilarating turn by Cassandra Peterson herself, who has got her comic timing down, knows how to melt the screen when needed, and even gives a certain class to her somewhat (intentionally) cheap sexiness, and has a cartoon character aura to herself (in the best possible way). So no, it's not the perfect movie by a longshot - but good fun for sure.

 

By the way, despite Elvira's relative popularity as a horror host, this movie flopped at the box office - what with production company New World going out of business before its release and thus lack of marketing - but became a hit on home video and has since reached cult status.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD