Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) Arrow Video Blu-ray Review
A culmination of quite a few concepts that had been swirling around in the 1980’s like the satanic panic movement, the rise of the misfit like Pee Wee Herman, glam rock, and Elvira’s own appeal in the era that saw a renewed interest in crummy horror movies, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a fun screwball comedy with just a dash of horror mixed in for fans of the genre.
Plot: Having just quit her job as a Los Angeles TV horror hostess, Elvira receives the unexpected news that she’s set to inherit part of her great aunt Morgana’s estate.
Review: Queen of the quips, double entendres, and one-liners, washed up late night horror movie host for a local TV station Elvira (Cassandra Peterson in her iconic role / persona) loses her job, but on the same day she’s informed that her long-lost aunt in Massachusetts has died and left something for her in her will. She hightails it outta town and ends up in the burb of Fallwell (as in Jerry, if you’re paying attention) where morality reigns supreme, thanks to a tyrannical puritan of a school master (played by Edie McClurg) who runs the whole town on the juice of keeping everyone’s mojo dialed way down. When Elvira shows up to claim her inheritance, her very appearance (vampy, megaboobs, a high thigh-revealing dress, etc.) throws the entire population into a frenzy, namely the teen boys and girls who’ve never seen such a manifestation of gothic sexual energy before. Elvira’s crushed when she finds out that all she inherited is a big, decrepit old mansion and a “cookbook,” but when her evil uncle (who’s a warlock) demands that she hand over the book, she gets defensive when she realizes that the tome is a powerful spellbook, and that her aunt was a witch. The town comes with their pitchforks and torches to burn Elvira at the stake, but surprisingly, she has quite a few allies in town, like the local bohunk twerp (played by Daniel Greene, who had a nice career as an action star in Italy), who runs the movie theater in town.
A culmination of quite a few concepts that had been swirling around in the 1980’s like the satanic panic movement, the rise of the misfit like Pee Wee Herman, glam rock, and Elvira’s own appeal in the era that saw a renewed interest in crummy horror movies, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a fun screwball comedy with just a dash of horror mixed in for fans of the genre. Depending on your tolerance for Cassandra Peterson’s performance (which, admittedly, gets to be annoying after awhile), this movie can be a cute way to get acquainted with her personality, but if you’re not a fan of hers, then the movie will become a grating exercise from a one-trick pony whose appeal fizzled out with the ’80s. I like it just enough to recommend it to fans of Tim Burton-styled movies, and demographics who’ve ever felt marginalized. It’s adequate, but amusing. From director James Signorelli.
Arrow Video has just released new Blu-ray of this title, and the transfer is a brand new restoration from a 4K scan, which far exceeds the previous DVD release from Anchor Bay nearly 15 years ago. Signorelli’s video intro to the movie is a hoot, and other special features include several archival commentaries, plus documentaries, storyboards, and more. A newly commissioned piece of cover artwork can be reversed to the original theatrical image.