Looking back at ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK

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Wil takes a look back at the 1988 comedy horror movie, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.


Cassandra Peterson first developed the role of Elvira in 1981 to play the hostess for a series of horror themed movie nights on an LA TV Network. Previously Ms. Peterson was taking on various supporting roles in movies and TV shows (including Happy Days and St. Elsewhere), but her alter-ego became more and more popular and so she began to start guest starring as Elvira on shows like CHiPs and The Fall Guy.

Combined with her own Movie Macabre series and Halloween specials, Elvira grew into something of a cultural icon in the world of 1980s horror. Films like Fright Night and TerrorVision incorporated homages to, and spoofs on, her TV work, so her very own movie was the logical next step.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark left me hysterical with laughter when I first saw it 25 years ago. If you like corny films, filled with silly jokes, ridiculous costumes and a heroine who flaunts all she's got to the camera (and boy does Elvira have a lot!), then you'll love this.

In the movie Elvira finds out that the TV station where she works hosting the late night horror movies slot has been sold. She is outraged when the new owner harasses her and so she quits. Elvira has plans to do a show in Las Vegas, but she soon discovers that she has to come up with $50,000 to help cover the costs for the production, money she doesn't have. Fortunately she learns she's named in the will of her great aunt Morgana. Thinking that she is going to inherit a fortune, Elvira heads off to the very conservative Fallwell, Massachusetts.

Her inheritance turns out to be a rundown house in what is essentially Small-Town USA. However, Small-Town USA isn't really ready for Elvira, her revealing clothes, and the problems that follow her. Unknown to our heroine she is the daughter of a witch, and her scheming warlock uncle wants her inheritance for his own dastardly reasons. So the movie focuses on Elvira's attempt to defeat her evil and powerful uncle, which is not easy when you are witch without training.


At first Elvira decides she'd rather sell the house and head for Vegas, but she soon finds herself fighting for her birthright, which includes a magic ring, a book of very powerful spells and a Witches Familiar in the form of funky poodle who can become a Rottweiler if the need arises.

Elvira makes does make some friends along the way, mainly young people like herself who feel constrained by their town's ultra conservative attitude. She is soon mixing potions to liven up the place, the highlight being the 'sex-fest' which occurs after the local residents eat a specially prepared casserole at the town fair, it's one of the films funniest moments, along with the Flashdance parody and Elvira's transformation into a female Rambo complete with Bazooka gun.

This is a silly, silly, film but it is well worth watching. Some of the acting is, at best, borderline adequate, but it's easy to overlook because Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is packed with heart. It's an enjoyable, funny, totally screwy, very 80s movie. It's cheesy as hell, but I love it!

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