Aug 2, 2013

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

When I moved to West Hollywood in 1985, everyone was watching Movie Macabre (1981-86), starring Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (Cassandra Peterson).  A throwback to the horror movie hosts of the 1950s and 1960s, Elvira was vampire-like being with a Valley Girl accent ("As if!") and a revealing Morticia Addams outfit.
She showed bad movies like The Fall of the House of Usher (with peplum star Mark Damon not taking his clothes off), Horror Hospital (with Robin Askwith threatened by gay psycho surgeons), and Werewolf of Washington (with Dean Stockwell, werewolves, hippies, and hippie werewolves).

In a tradition that would extend to Mystery Science Theater 3000, Elvira made snarky comments about the movies.  And in the tradition of drag queen performers, she made lots of self-referential jokes about her sexual escapades and cleavage ("I'm glad to see you're back...and you're glad to see my front!").  

Gay fans loved her, and she returned the affection, appearing at AIDS benefits and Gay Pride parades through the 1980s.

And not only gay fans.  She was everywhere, branding her image to sell everything from beer to Halloween costumes.

The feature film Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988) sends Elvira to the small town of Falwell (named after Jerry Falwell, the poster boy for 1980s homophobia), where she befriends all of the town's outcasts, butts heads with local bigots and romances an uptight theater manager (professional hunk Danny Greene).

Since Elvira is immortal, she continues to perform, cleavage and all.  In 2010 she began hosting a new version of Elvira's Movie Macabre.