When it comes to beloved genre figures, they don’t get much more beloved than Cassandra Peterson’s Elvira. And now, the prolific team at Arrow Video have put together a swanky new 4K release of 1988’s Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. With that in mind, then, let’s take a look to see whether this a devilish delight or simply a soulless cash-grab.
In terms of the plot, Mistress of the Dark finds Elvira in desperate need of some moolah. Having quit her TV hosting gig, Elvira decides to start her own Las Vegas show. The only hitch? Why, that’s stumping up the $50,000 needed to start such a show. As luck would have it though, Elvira is soon on the end of a hefty inheritance windfall which lands her with, amongst other others, a house that she can easily flip to raise the relevant funds. The problem here, however, is the local townspeople don’t take too well to her quirky charms and she can’t find a buyer for love nor money. Added to that, her Uncle Vinny (W. Morgan Sheppard) has his own agenda where Elvira’s inheritance is concerned. Stuck in a deadbeat town, no money to fulfil her Vegas dreams, and with everybody against her, whatever will Elvira do?
We guess the thing with Elvira is that she can often split opinion. Some grumble grumps see the character as pointless trash that is simply bad humour and excessive cleavage shots. Luckily, we’re on the other side of the fence, for here at Moonbase Alpha we can never get enough of Elvira and her antics. In Mistress of the Dark, we have a movie that is energetic, tongue-in-cheek fun that has some genuine laughs dotted throughout. From mild titters at Elvira’s brash, no-nonsense approach to proceedings, to legitimate belly laughs at some of the one-liners on display, this is a film that never takes itself too seriously. Added to that, there is a whole lot of heart and a deeper meaning to the picture; not least in how Elvira is shunted just for being a little different.
At the centre of happenings, of course, we have Cassandra Peterson. Marvelling in her feature film debut, Peterson is on absolutely perfect form as Elvira. But then again, the actress is always “on” when Elvira comes a-calling. Having been involved in the lengthy development of the movie and its screenplay, Peterson is hugely instrumental in giving audiences the ultimate Elvira experience. As alluded to earlier, if you enjoy the Elvira character, this is a picture that you will have an absolute blast with.
Where the bonus material on this new release is concerned, the standout attraction is the Too Macabre making-of. Actually longer than the main movie itself, this documentary is an utter treat for longtime fans of Elvira. Taking the previous version of this doc and sprucing it up with some new content, this is just as much fun as Mistress of the Dark, if not more so. And that says a lot, for Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is ridiculously entertaining. Elsewhere, the archived audio commentary featuring Cassandra Peterson, Edie McClurg, and John Paragon is another particular highlight, with the chat track being a brilliant accompaniment to this cult favourite. Finally, there’s the brand new 4K restoration for the film, which gives an extra crispness to the spooky shenanigans of Elvira, in particular adding an extra element of fun to the bonkers final third of the feature.
All in all, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a fun romp of a film that never takes itself too seriously yet is cleverly constructed and deep down has a whole lot of heart throughout. So, pointless trash that is simply bad humour and excessive cleavage shots? To an extent, maybe, but Mistress of the Dark is well and truly in on the joke.
Special Features: Three audio commentaries / Introduction by director James Signorelli / Too Macabre – The Making of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark documentary / Recipe for Terror: The Creation of the Pot Monster featurette / Original storyboards / Trailers / Collector’s booklet
ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JAMES SIGNORELLI / SCREENPLAY: SAM EGAN, JOHN PARAGON, CASSANDRA PETERSON / CAST: CASSANDRA PETERSON, W. MORGAN SHEPPARD, DANIEL GREENE, SUSAN KELLERMAN, EDIE McCLURG / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 10TH