Judge Brett Cullum likes his horror movies with big ole knockers...of the cast iron variety.
"Lucky for you, I come with my own air bags!"—Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Elvira's Haunted Hills is a fun little romp that pays homage to Hammer Horror, all those Vincent Price Poe movies, Roger Corman cult classics, and mixes them all up with jokes about big boobs. It has a great cast including The Rocky Horror Picture Show creator and star Richard O'Brien appearing as a twisted lord of a Transylvanian manor. Amazingly enough it has no relation to Elvira's first movie, and instead plays out as if the Mistress of the Dark were starring in a film she was hosting on UHF television late at night. It looks and feels authentic from the sets to the go-nowhere plot, and what is added is Elvira's sense of Borscht Belt humor and ample bodily assets. It's an admirable piece that is handsomely made, although it's nowhere near as tight or funny as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. This latest DVD incarnation celebrates the tenth anniversary of the flick's release with a new transfer and plenty of extras.
The plot is a bit impenetrable with Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) and her French maid Zou Zou (Mary Jo Smith) getting stuck at a creepy castle on their way to a Can Can revue as they make their way through the Carpathian mountains. The lord of the manor (Richard O'Brien) thinks our heroine looks like his dead wife, and so Lord Hellsubus traps her in his maze of a castle which has its own torture room and several screaming women. Everything you expect is here: cemeteries, raging fires, creepy portraits, and there is even a stable stud who somehow has all his lines dubbed by a better actor. Then there are the things you might not expect like a tassel-twirling Vegas number complete with a kick line.
This edition features a brand new mastered visual and audio transfer that look and sound amazing. Elvira's Haunted Hills excels in design and cinematography, so it is nice to see a clear and accurate representation of the picture at its strongest. Colors are a touch vibrant on purpose as if the feature were treated for technicolor. It looks great and fun. Sound design includes the original stereo as well as a full surround track for elaborate home systems. Amazing to think this film cost 1 million to make rather than the 14 million spent on her studio film, because it looks and sounds just about on par with the earlier work.
The extras are overflowing, just like the top of Elvira's best dresses. A commentary track kicks thing off and includes Elvira herself, director Sam Irvin, as well as some of the supporting actors including Mary Scheer, Mary Jo Smith, and Scott Atkinson. It's a great listen with plenty about the production and what they were paying homage to. The original trailer is included. There is a "tell-all" featurette with the cast and crew talking about the project, which looks like it was recorded recently. Elvira appears as Cassandra Peterson for this, and she spills the beans on how everything went down. Also included is a making-of featurette that further explores the origins of Elvira's Haunted Hills; this was recorded a few years ago, probably for the original DVD. Thankfully we get an on-set interview with Richard O'Brien proving he is just as crazy as you'd expect. There are outtakes, which mainly include Elvira forgetting her lines and cursing like a truck driver as a result. A photo gallery showcases the publicity shots. Also gathered together are a whole collection of sneak previews of the first season of the revival of Movie Macabre
It's interesting that Elvira found a way to make a sequel to her 1988 feature thirteen years later by running off to Transylvania with Richard O'Brien. It's even better that she decided to make a smart and campy take on the Vincent Price and Roger Corman flicks from the sixties. It's a cool idea to insert the Mistress of the Dark into a film that she'd be making fun of if it were screened on Movie Macabre. Fans of Elvira will find plenty to love, and non-fans will probably not even make it past the opening credits anyways. This is a great little package which offers plenty of extras which easily eclipses the previous release, so an upgrade is in order. Elvira's Haunted Hills has never looked better and it has aged very well. This one is perfect for Halloween or any time you want a black comedy about a showgirl schlepping through a haunted castle. Elvira knows what her audience wants, and she delivers it all without any hesitation or apology. It's all just a knowing wink, a jiggle, and an impeccable knowledge of camp cult horror that gels perfectly.
Guilty of enhancing Elvira's hills.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
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