“ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK”— At Home in Massachusetts

“ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK”

At Home in Massachusetts

Amos Lassen

Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) is horror’s hostess with the mostest and now we have her on a Blu-ray special edition. Elvira just quit her job as a Los Angeles TV horror hostess when received the unexpected news that she’s set to inherit part of her great aunt Morgana’s estate. Arriving in the small town of Fallwell, Massachusetts to claim her inheritance, Elvira meets her sinister uncle Vincent, who, unbeknownst to Elvira, is an evil warlock secretly scheming to steal the old family spell book for his own evil ends. The camp begins and we are in for quite a ride and more double entendres than you would think possible. Made in 1988, “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” helped solidify the horror hostess as a major pop culture icon. She owns the screen with her quick wit, sass, and of course, cleaving-enhancing gown.

What is so immediately captivating about Elvira is the total disconnect between her physical appearance (including makeup and costuming) and her personality. She is a kind of combo of Valley Girl inanities and Mae West double entendres. Elvira became an instant sensation.  

Elvira quits her tv gig in what might be called a #Metoo reaction, even if Elvira’s blatant sexuality and frequent jokes about her own “attributes” might make that seem completely and unavoidably ironic. She seems to strike instant gold anyway when she finds out she’s inherited Fallwell.  

Of course, Fallwell turns out to be an ultraconservative town that has never seen anything quite like Elvira, and Elvira pretty much immediately invites the local busy body and moral custodian Chastity Pariah (Edie McClurg) to a meeting. The rest of the film is kind of vignette driven, with Elvira encountering both disparagement and acceptance in the little town, while also coming to the realization that her inheritance might be more than she bargained for. There are scenes that are quite funny, but there probably aren’t enough of them to sustain a feature film.  
Basically, the entire formula for comedy is comprised of a steady delivery of “sex joke, double entendre, joke about Elvira’s breasts, sex joke, double entendre, joke about Elvira’s breasts, sex joke, double entendre, joke about Elvira’s breasts.” It’s not a bad formula, but after an hour, it becomes so predictable, you can see when a joke is about to fly at the audience, and it doesn’t really land all the time. But then again, Cassandra Peterson makes even the most clunky one-liner land, thanks to her unabashed goofiness, and her ability to use her chest as a sight gag more times than not.

 “Mistress of the Dark” has a lot going for it. It never tries too hard and actually has fun with the premise. Cassandra Peterson uses the popularity of her character while also giving her something to do. She provides the audience with her origin, a back story about her family, and she never hesitates to flirt with men around her in spite of the disgust of the puritanical town she ends up in.

After moving into her dark mansion and adopting a dog, Elvira discovers she comes from a long line of witches. Meanwhile, her evil long lost uncle wants the sacred book of “recipes” Elvira’s aunt has left behind, while Elvira battles the town’s puritanical government, all of whom will do whatever it takes to run her out of town. Elvira runs amok garnering the love of the town’s teens, and even turns a small picnic into an orgy.

Elvira sticks closely to the horror genre, providing a fish out of water comedy. Elvira herself is a likable character filled with movie references and shameless homages, while also never afraid to flaunt her assets to everyone she meets. This may not be the comedy that re-invented horror comedies, but Elvira’s feature film debut is an entertaining and raunchy foray with the always sexy and unique Cassandra Peterson keeping it together.

Bonus Materials

  • Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of original film elements
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed stereo 2.0 audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Introduction to the film by director James Signorelli
  • 2017 Audio Commentary with director James Signorelli, hosted by Fangoria editor emeritus Tony Timpone
  • 2017 Audio Commentary with Patterson Lundquist, www.elviramistressofthedark.com webmaster and judge of US TV show The Search for the Next Elvira
  • Archival Audio Commentary with actors Cassandra Peterson, Edie McClurg and writer John Paragon
  • Too Macabre – The Making of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark – newly-revised 2018 version of this feature-length documentary on the making of the film, including interviews with various cast and crew and rare never-before-seen archival material
  • Recipe for Terror: The Creation of the Pot Monster – newly-revised 2018 version of this featurette on the concept and design of the pot monster, as well as the film’s other SFX
  • Original storyboards
  • Extensive image galleries
  • Original US theatrical and teaser trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring writing by Kat Ellinger and Patterson Lundquist

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