Like the original “Friday the 13th”, “Elvira” is one of those movies that everyone talks about but no one has seen. It’s become so ingrained in the horror culture that we think we know everything about it, and in reality know just about nothing. In the case of “Friday”, you get a decent slasher flick a good bit of insight into the story behind the franchise. With “Elvira”, we all know she’s a horror host with huge boobs, but what you discover when you actually watch the movie is that… there really is nothing more to the story. When they’re not making boob jokes, they’re setting up for the next boob joke. Don’t get me wrong, this is pretty entertaining, but there is definitely a reason “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” fell off into horror obscurity.
First things first: There actually is a plot to this movie. Like any good 80’s horror comedy, the plot takes a backseat to goofy characters and over-the-top jokes, but it is there, lurking in the background. The movie starts with Elvira being fired from her current gig, hosting a late night horror theater on cable. She wants to move to Vegas and start her own show, but she doesn’t have the money to make it happen. Almost simultaneously, she receives word that a mysterious great aunt has passed away, and is leaving her fortune to Elvira. In the interest of starting her career in Vegas, she travels to the little New England town where her aunt lived to claim her fortune. Hilarity ensues as the ever-shameless Elvira butts heads with the stuck up locals. Oh, and there’s some witchcraft and stuff.
Calling this a scary movie is a grave misunderstanding of the term “horror”. We certainly have all the elements to make it a horror movie: a spooky house, demons being summoned, an old evil warlock, and plenty of magic. These are all key elements to the plot, however the movie really centers around Elvira’s “assets”. No, not physical assets, necessarily. We get most of the plot movement through Elvira’s sassy attitude towards the town through her inheritance proceedings. When the inheritance ends up being a house, Elvira is stuck in the town until she can manage to sell it, which proves difficult. Eventually she finds a spell book in her great aunts possessions and saves the town from another relative who attempts to use the book to take over the world. Townspeople back on her side, she is able to sell the house and move to Vegas to start her show, which turns out to be nothing more than a burlesque show in which she flaunts those assets we’ve been hinting at the whole time. By the time the “Singin’ in the Rain”-esque final number ends and the credits roll, you’ve totally forgotten you’re watching FearNet.
As far as gore is concerned, we get a whole lotta nothing. There is an attempt a shock value where a demon pops out of a soupy concoction, but other than that the grossest thing we get is a bunch of old people dancing in their underwear. In all honesty, that could have been the scene that got this thing labeled “horror”. Other than that, Elvira is constantly doing her “how much cleavage can I show without actually showing anything” routine throughout the whole movie, which is usually fairly entertaining. But alas, perverts everywhere, nothing is bared, and the PG-13 rating is intact.
Continuing with the B-movie theme, “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” is chock full of actors you will recognize. Unfortunately, they are the type of actors that you recognize, but couldn’t name if you tried. Cassandra Peterson herself is fairly well known, but because of Elvira. In fact, she is just billed as “Elvira” in the flick. There are a few other notables, specifically the realtor and Chastity. I can’t help more than that, but if you see the movie you’ll know who I’m talking about. Anyway, in terms of acting prowess, everyone overplays their roles to the extreme, which is exactly what is called for. You can’t ask for much more in a B-movie like this, so I won’t.
“Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” is an interesting movie if you’re bored and young and curious what all the fuss was about. Maybe some people grew up with the Mistress on TV every Friday night hosting some terrible horror movie, but I sure didn’t. The character of Elvira is actually very entertaining, with her sassy, no holds barred attitude and disregard for anything conventional. I will definitely be on the look out for Elvira cameos when I dip into my 80’s horror collections, but I can’t say I’ll be picking up “Elvira’s Haunted Hills” any time soon.