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For, Friday, June 5, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: Once upon a time the line between movies and TV shows was much more blurred than it is now, so that when a TV show transitioned to the big screen it was something of an event. But more often than not it was also a box-office failure, as is the case with this dreadful adaptation of a syndicated-TV star’s persona. But since Elvira still has a cult following, so does this movie, and it has been given the Blu-ray special-edition treatment by Arrow Films. My review was published in the Deseret News on Nov. 1, 1988.

“Elvira, Mistress of the Dark,” is a very poorly constructed idea that becomes exactly what it sets out to be: A one-joke movie.

For those who have not seen Elvira on her syndicated late-night horror-movie show (which is not broadcast in this market) or on the videotapes where she similarly hosts bad horror movies or in her appearances on various TV variety shows, don’t feel that you’ve missed anything.


Edie McClurg, 'Elvira, Mistress of the Dark' (1988)

Known for her buxom, and mostly unclad bosom, which protrudes from a slinky, black “Vampira”-type outfit, Elvira is played by actress Cassandra Peterson as a sexpot-dingbat-horror maven, complete with huge black hairdo, witchy demeanor and a mouth full of vulgar wisecracks.

As this big-screen film version begins Elvira is fired from her horror-hostess TV job just as she learns that she has inherited a house in a small Massachusetts town, and the town is, of course, very prudish.

So she travels there and is put-upon by everyone — but especially Edie McClurg, who does the patented busybody character she has perfected in John Hughes’ teen films.


But the gags are tired — some are ancient — and the emphasis on Elvira’s ample bosom wears out its welcome rather quickly. And the silly horror trappings are out-grossed only by her achieving the goal of becoming a Las Vegas lounge act.

Ultra-Elvira fans may enjoy this character’s film debut but for me it couldn’t get over soon enough.

“Elvira, Mistress of the Dark” is rated PG-13 for nudity, violence, sex, profanity and vulgarity, all in abundance.