Femme Fatale: Elvira
Welcome back to my lair, horror fans! This week your favorite Gorgon of gore has a special treat for you. Last week marked the debut of my all-new “Femme Fatale” series. You came face-to-face with the hideous Leech Woman from the film, Puppet Master. Now get ready to meet the sexiest woman of horror, Elvira!
Back in 1981, the world was introduced to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. With her skin-tight black dress, ample…talents and sarcastic disposition, fans tuned in every week for Movie Macabre. Hosting the “best of the worst” in horror, Elvira mocked every low-budget B-movie in her collection. Audiences cringed with films like The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and The Devil’s Wedding Night. Elvira became an overnight sensation as fans screamed for more. Her popularity continued to rise with appearances on everything from beer coasters to pinball machines. Portrayed by Cassandra Peterson, Elvira is the dark alter-ego of the fair-skinned, strawberry blonde actress from Manhattan, Kansas. Peterson created the character in the early 1980s, mixing sensuality with razor-sharp wit, and audiences couldn’t get enough.
Elvira made her film debut in 1988 with the horror/comedy, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. In the film Elvira travels to Massachusetts for the reading of her late aunt’s will. Between shocking the townspeople and trying to finance her show in Las Vegas, Elvira must also battle her evil uncle, who is determined to destroy her no matter what. While the film had plenty of laughs and chills, it didn’t find much success at the box office. However, all that changed when Elvira: Mistress of the Dark was released to videocassette. For over twenty years, the film has continued to be a cult favorite. One of the best moments features Elvira being burned at the stake by a group of townspeople, led by Chastity Pariah (Edie McClurg, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).
After years of waiting, fans were treated to another feature film in 2002 with Elvira’s Haunted Hills. This time around Elvira finds herself in 1800s Romania at the castle of Lord Hellsubus (Richard O’ Brien). With her assistant, Zou Zou (Mary Jo Smith) and a handful of creepy characters, Elvira must make it through the night as she learns the dark secrets behind the Hellsubus family. Featuring Mary Sheer (Mad TV), Heather Hopper (Troop Beverly Hills) and Scott Atkinson (Dexter), Elvira’s Haunted Hills shed comedic light on classic Roger Corman/Vincent Price films such as Tomb of Ligeia and The Black Cat. A ten-year anniversary edition of Elvira’s Haunted Hills was recently released, and includes behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and outtakes.
It’s been over thirty years and Elvira’s success is still going strong. New episodes of Elvira’s Movie Macabre are back on television, and while the first season has wrapped, many episodes have been released on DVD. It’s safe to say Elvira will be around for many years to come. Not only is she gearing up for the next season of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, she’s also releasing a collection of fine wines. Is there anything she can’t do?
Actress Cassandra Peterson has kept herself busy in films like All About Evil and the animated horror/comedy The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. Peterson has always loved animals and devotes much of her time to animal rights groups.
So the next time you’re watching television, or at your local video store, be sure to check out Elvira, horror’s very own femme fatale.