You don’t have to know anything about Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, a hilarious blend of horror and comedy to love it. However, we shall delve a bit into what brought on this eighties cult classic just to make a couple of things clear. Firstly, this movie came about after the huge success of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a tv show about horror movies that ran from 1981 to 1986. Elvira or Cassandra Peterson, was the host discussing and usually trashing B horror movies. Her appearance was provocatively gothic but at the same time very eighties. Although the first thing your going to notice is her cleavage revealing a stunning set of “gazongas”.
Cassandra was a rebel with a passion for show business from her youth. She was a showgirl in Las Vegas, a singer in an Italian goth-rock band, and had a very rich career before becoming Elvira. The combination of her beauty, intelligence, and sense of humor were mesmerizing. Plus, she was willing to go over the line, questioning authority and morality. Something quite popular in the eighties. This brings us to the movie we’re going to be talking about today. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark features a very vibrant atmosphere and a great script. I know it’s a bit shlocky and campy but that also makes it a lot of fun. Especially from this time distance.
You might think that this is a movie full of nudity but I assure you it’s not. Everything is tastefully done without any forced moments. You can see that Cassandra, I’m sorry, Elvira had a lot of fun with this role along with the rest of the cast. After all, she was one of the writers. This sets apart Elvira: Mistress of the Dark from all those other eighties erotic horror comedies. Hell, only The Return of the Living Dead can come close to it and it has a lot more nudity. Too bad Daniel Greene playing her hunky love interest Bob didn’t take off any of his clothes, they are such a cool couple.
Most of all, this is a cool movie about a woman who’s not afraid to show off her body. Moreover, she will not take any crap from obnoxious men that keep pestering her. You might even call her a feminist, paving a way for what’s to come. She’s got a cool dress, a cool haircut, and a super cool car. Elvira drives a heavily modified 1958 T-Bird hardtop purchased for just $2,500. To younger generations, she might seem like Dita Von Teese’s predecessor. Bare that in mind during the spectacular finale of this masterpiece.
After she told her boss where to stick it following his sexist remarks, Elvira is now out of the job. She keeps hoping that she will land a gig in Las Vegas but without $50.000 that’s unlikely. To make things even worse, Elvira receives a telegram informing her that her great-aunt Morgana has passed away. However, it seems that she stands to inherit something so she sets off for Fallwell, Massachusetts, to claim the inheritance. What happens next is something she couldn’t even dream of.
I just loved the fact that Elvira: Mistress of the Dark pokes so much fun at the small-town mentality. I mean, I have nothing against small towns but I do have a lot against ignorance. And not just that, this rigid set of rules they’re the arbiter of along with morality. And seeing Elvira showing them the middle finger brings great joy to me. The plot is outrageous but also very familiar from all of those B horror movies of the seventies and eighties.
It casually weaves this story of persecution, bigotry, jealousy, and sexism without you even noticing it. Probably because the scenes are so in-your-face and visually impactful. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark has a huge replay value and I’m sure you’re going to keep coming back to it in the following years. Not only it’s a time capsule, preserving that rebellious spirit of the eighties but also a very titillating movie.
As I kept watching it over the years I noticed that I was becoming increasingly concerned about its exploitative nature. However, as soon as I thought that, I had to bring myself back to reality and take this movie for what it is: an entertaining horror-comedy. And the fact that her boobs are a large part of the plot is just her reclaiming them from the society that designated them only for feeding babies. You should know that there’s a sequel to this movie that came out in 2001, titled Elvira’s Haunted Hills. It’s not as good as this one but it will keep you awake.
Also, just last year Netflix released a four-episode special Elvira’s 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special, Special. It’s funny to think that it’s been now more than forty years since the premiere of the original show. You can get a feel of it during the theater scene in which she makes fun of a classic so bad that it’s good movie, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Finally, I can’t help but mention a line from another cool, this time nineties movie, Airheads: If it’s too loud, you’re too old!
Director: James Signorelli
Writers: Sam Egan, John Paragon, Cassandra Peterson
Cast: Cassandra Peterson, Edie McClurg, Daniel Greene, William Morgan Sheppard, Susan Kellermann
Fun Facts: Brad Pitt auditioned for one of the teenage boy roles, but Cassandra Peterson thought he was too cute, writing “Yum, Yum” next to his name.