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Case Number 01342

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Elvira: Mistress Of The Dark

Anchor Bay // 1988 // 96 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // August 25th, 2001

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All Rise...

The Charge

Elvira busts out in her outrageous feature film debut!

Opening Statement

Sometimes weird people get to be in the spotlight. Pee-Wee Herman is a prime example. Putter around in a tight suit with rouge on your cheeks and they'll give you a movie deal. Same thing goes for prop comic Carrot Top, but with much more frightening results (Chariman of the Board makes me shudder just thinking about it…). In 1987 New World Pictures released a movie that would put both of those men to shame: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. If you're not already with the program, Elvira (AKA busty Cassandra Peterson) is a semi-famous "B-movie" TV hostess who looks like Lily Munster and talks like Bette Davis. Elvira's greatest talents are her boobs (hey, sorry to be blunt, but there's just no getting around it), and she is never shy about flaunting her greatest assets. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is brought back from the dead on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Facts of the Case

When Elvira (played by…uh, Elvira) quits her local TV hosting gig, what's a good "ghoul" to do? Well, if you're the scriptwriters, you send Elvira off to some small Christian town and throw her 17 million breast gags to play off of!

After being fondled by her new station manager, Elvira storms out and decides to take her show to Las Vegas! The only hitch is that she is about $50,000 dollars short of her dream. However, due to good luck (re: cheesy writing), Elvira's great aunt dies and she inherits her run-down estate! Like a bat out of hell, Elvira hops into her souped-up Chevy (complete with barbwire rear mirror and skull and cross bone hubcaps) and heads out for Fallwell, Massachusetts to seek her fame and fortune!

Just as she arrives in Fallwell, Elvira's car takes a turn for the worst, breaking down in the middle of the town square. Stuck in the small town from hell, Elvira heads to the will reading and collects her great aunt's estate, poodle, and ancient "cookbook." At the reading she also meets her Uncle Vincent Talbot (William Morgan Sheppard, Needful Things), a cranky old goat who wants the "cookbook" for himself. Why? Because that "cookbook" is no gourmet read; it's a spell book filled with incantations and horrid hexes! With the real purpose of the book unbeknownst to Elvira, Uncle Vincent offers to buy the book from her for fifty bucks. She accepts, but loses it somewhere in the house (which gives new meaning to the word "fixer-upper").

This plot point gives Elvira (and us) a convenient way to meet the local townsfolk, lead by the snippy Chastity Pariah (Edie McClurg, Ferris Bueller's Day Off). Chastity is the leader of the local morality movement, and decides that Elvira just doesn't fit in Fallwell. From the moment Elvira steps into town, all the adults see her as a prime example of the Antichrist. This being the case, the local kids all flock to Elvira, especially the boys who drool over her big…personality. Elvira takes a liking to them as well, and together they all redecorate Elvira's new mansion in hopes of selling it for Vegas money. Unfortunately, there are no takers for the house, and Elvira is left with a final option: host a midnight showing of a B-movie at the local movie theater (why? Because it'll be funny, that's why)! All the while Uncle Vincent is making his plans to get his hands on the book and become the "Master of Darkness."

Will Elvira ever see her Las Vegas dreams come true? Or will she fall victim to the right-wing conspirators of Fallwell, or even worse, the demonic Uncle Vincent?

The Evidence

I just don't know why, but I have a soft spot for Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. By no means is it a great movie. By no means is it a very good movie. It is, however, a dazzlingly entertaining movie.

I'm still a little fuzzy about why they even made an Elvira movie, but no matter; Elvira: Mistress of the Dark entertains and gives us more boob references than a two hour porn flick (and this movie is actually rated PG-13)! Elvira may not be Meryl Streep, but she does know how to dish out her fair share of sex 'n' horror puns. In fact, not a scene goes by where we don't get some kind of naughty jab at the expense of Elvira's rear end, her breasts, or some horny teenage boy.

For anyone going into Elvira: Mistress of the Dark looking for some good horror elements, you'll be sadly mistaken. Like a big budget Ed Wood film, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark couldn't scare a field mouse. This entire movie is played strictly for laughs. Even the end battle between Elvira and her Uncle is somewhat goofy. When asked if Elvira wants to keep her job at the station, she shoots back "I need this job like a leper needs a three-way mirror!" If you didn't laugh at that joke, then Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is going to be the equivalent of having hot pokers set on your eyeballs.

Elvira has a lot of fun with her movie, even if the title "character" is a bit limited. At some points she's sweet, other times she's sexy, and still others she retains a quaint motherly quality to her. The supporting cast has as much fun with this material as they can. Edie McClurg is funny as an uptight moral majority leader. Like every other character she's played (whether it be in the TV show "Valerie's Family" or in movies like Ferris Bueller's Day Off), McClurg is a dingbat, blustering and bouncing on and off screen with as much flair as she can muster. Character actor William Morgan Sheppard growls and grumbles his way through Elvira, looking as if he's cranky his agent even got him the audition for this film. The rest of the cast includes bland teens and boring townsfolk compared to the special effect that is "Elvira."

Once again, Anchor Bay does a fantastic job on a mediocre title. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the transfer looks very good. Colors were very bright with blacks ending up exceptionally solid. Though there were some minor flaws with the picture (i.e., grain, dirt, etcetera), they were not very frequent, and for a film of this age and budget this is the best Elvira: Mistress of the Dark transfer we'll probably ever see. A very fine job by Anchor Bay!

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark has been given a new Dolby Digital 5.1 track, though I'm not sure why. There aren't a lot of scenes that benefit from this track, though when it does kick in it sounds very good. Dialogue, effects and music were all mixed evenly. Also included is a Dolby 2.0 Surround track in English. Alas, the deaf shall never enjoy Elvira's titty gags, for Anchor Bay has included no subtitles.

You Elvira fans out there are going to be slightly disappointed in this edition of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. I'd have assumed that Elvira would have been free to do a commentary track for her movie (and in character would have been a scream). Sadly, there is nothing of the sorts featured on this disc. The only extra material Anchor Bay has bestowed upon us is a Cassandra Peterson bio and two trailers; a teaser and a theatrical trailer, both presented in anamorphic widescreen. Funny for a single viewing, but that's about it.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Truth be told, after a while Elvira: Mistress of the Dark got a little stale. There is only so many times that you can hear a boob or ass joke in one movie until it becomes painfully redundant. It's as if the writers couldn't think of anywhere else to go, so throwing in a hundred sexual references seemed to be the ideal way to keep the pace moving.

But, what can you do? Elvira's got some major juggs, and you've got to do your best with the talents you've been given.

Closing Statement

Elvira fans rejoice! This is the best looking version you'll be apt to find, even if there are no substantial extra features to speak of. Even with its flaws, I still enjoyed Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. Maybe it's got something to do with nostalgia. Maybe it even has to do with the raunchy humor. Or, maybe it's the fact that I just like staring at Elvira's major melons.

You be the judge.

The Verdict

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is free to go and cast her spell on B-movie fans everywhere. Anchor Bay is acquitted for doing nice work on this itty-bitty title.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 92
Audio: 88
Extras: 60
Acting: 80
Story: 75
Judgment: 84

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
Genres:
• Comedy
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer
• Teaser Trailer
• Cassandra Peterson Bio

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Elvira's Official Site








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