Directed by: James Signorelli
Starring: Cassandra Peterson, William Sheppard, Edie McClurg and Daniel Greene
Written by: Sam Egan, John Parago and Cassandra Peterson
Runtime: 96 minutes
Release Date: September 30, 1988
ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK (1988) begins with Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) lying on a couch, looking as sexy as ever, inside a low budget TV studio doing her nightly horror movie show. Once it comes to an end, she’s introduced to the station’s new owner who immediately gropes her breasts. Seconds later the station loses Elvira when she quits to pursue her dream in Las Vegas.
Back in the dressing room, Elvira is told by her manager that if she wants her own show she’ll have to finance it herself. This wouldn’t be a problem if she had $50,000 laying around. Moments later, a telegram arrives and Elvira finds out that her great Aunt Morgana (also played by Cassandra Peterson) has passed away and she’s asked to attend the reading of the will.
Once at the reading, Elvira meets her Great-Uncle Vincent Talbot (William Sheppard). She inherits Morgana’s house, pet poodle and an old family recipe book which turns out to be Morgana’s spell book. Great-Uncle Vincent is left nothing. However, Vincent does have an interest in the recipe book and offers Elvira $50 for it. Elvira accepts the offer, but has bigger things on her mind (as do we when we watch this film) like selling the house to fund her Las Vegas act.
ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK isn’t a serious horror film. In fact, some may argue that it’s not a horror film at all and that it leans more towards comedy. They’d be right. While the film’s script revolves around Elvira trying to gather the cash to start her Las Vegas career, it does so with a lot of great one-liners delivered brilliantly by Cassandra Peterson who has great comedic timing. The dark undertone of the story is delivered in the third act of the film when Great-Uncle Vincent exposes who he is and why he wanted that spell book so badly.
As far as the film goes – and believe me when I say this – the viewer needs to go into ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK with an open mind and the ability to have fun while watching a comedy themed horror film. From the outset, Elvira shovels one-liners left and right and it works with the overall tone. The supporting cast is also brilliant. Daniel Greene as Bob Redding is fantastic in a shy love-struck sort of way. Edie McClurg as Chastity Pariah was the perfect choice for the town gossip and hypocrite. Jeff Conaway as Travis and his side-kick Frank Collison as Billy are brilliant in their roles as bowling alley lounge lizards
ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK was directed by James Signorelli, written by Sam Egan, John Parago and Cassandra Peterson, and was shot by Hanania Baer. The film was distributed by New World Pictures and released in September of 1988. The films budget was $7,500,000 and it grossed $5,500,000 making it a studio flop in terms of its financial outcome. Director James Signorelli’s background is for the most part in TV, playing director to NBC’s Saturday Night Live (1975 – Present). His only other directed film was EASY MONEY (1983) starring Rodney Dangerfield. Cinematographer Hanania Baer has been very busy in his career. In addition to ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK, he’s shot films such as BREAKIN’ (1984), AMERICAN NINJA (1985) and MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987) to name a few.
Cassandra Peterson is best known for her on-screen horror persona Elvira Mistress of the Dark, the host for the TV show Movie Macabre (1981 – 1993). Movie Macabre aired terribly bad horror films where Elvira would poke fun at them coming in and out of commercial breaks. Peterson has a rich, deep, interesting history. You can learn more at her Wikipedia page (as Elvira) and IMDB page. Movie Macabre vaulted Peterson to fame, eventually leading to numerous TV spots, film roles and positions as spokesperson for many different products throughout the years.
ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK is a fun, campy and comedic horror film that should be taken lightly and with a buttery bowl of popcorn. I find the film thoroughly entertaining and Elvira’s boobs a pleasure to look at as well.
Contributed by Mike Murphy