Pros: Fun and entertaining movie overall. Decent characters.
Cons: Plot is a bit weak. Silly at times. Not a lot of development.
I don't remember when I first saw Elvira. The character is a little campy, but she is also fun and entertaining. I first saw Elvira, Mistress of the Dark years ago and I remember enjoying it. I just watched it again for the first time in years.
Elvira finds out that the station where she works hosting bad horror movies late at night has been sold. She is outraged when the new owner harasses her and she quits. Elvira already has plans in motion to do a show in Las Vegas, but she soon discovers that isn't going like she planned either. She has to come up with $50,000 to help cover the costs for the production. Just when she doesn't know what she'll do, Elvira learns that she is named in the will of her great aunt Morgana. Thinking that she is going to inherit a fortune, Elvira heads off to Fallwell Massachusetts. The town is very straight laced, so she doesn't exactly fit in. Her inheritance turns out to be a rundown house, a poodle, and a book of recipes. Her great uncle Vincent is less than pleased that Elvira is there and he is determined to get his hands on the book.
The plot for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is very thin and simple. It does seem to be just an excuse for Elvira to run around with her assets jiggling, cracking jokes. Despite the fact that the plot is so thin, the movie still manages to be entertaining. Most of what happens is predictable, though there are a few small surprises along the way that work fairly well. This isn't a movie to watch for a complex, well executed plot. It is just one to watch to be entertained for about an hour and a half.
It does take a little while for things to start happening in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Time is taken to show Elvira working, finishing up hosting a movie. Things start going wrong for her almost immediately when she is introduced to the new owner of the station who is clearly only interested in one thing. More starts happening once Elvira arrives in Fallwell. The town is very repressed and people are quick to judge her based on her appearance. A few complications are introduced once she is in Fallwell, but the movie still remains fairly simple overall.
Vincent isn't happy when Elvira shows up for the reading of the will. Why he gets so upset and why he is so determined to get his hands on the book does provide a tiny bit of mystery to what is going on in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. The mystery really isn't that strong, but it does help to keep things interesting. Some supernatural things are also incorporated into the movie in a way that works and helps to make it more entertaining. Some of those things are a little silly, but they ultimately work for what is going on. It would have been nice if the mystery had been a bit stronger. There are some special effects in a few scenes that are decent, though nothing special. I do like the supernatural type of things that end up in the movie.
There is a lot of sex appeal in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Most of it comes from Elvira herself, dressed in a dress with a plunging neckline and very high slit. It seems like a miracle that she doesn't fall out of that dress in some scenes. Her outfits are slightly more revealing in a few scenes, though she is never naked. The people in Fallwell are focused on her appearance. Some people, mostly the women, are horrified while the men are enticed. The camera does focus on her breasts several times. Elvira ends up interested in Bob, a local guy. There are a few minor sexual situations between them. A few other sexual situations turn up in other scenes as well, and while it is clear that certain things are happening, not much is shown. Several of the lines have sexual references. The movie is rated PG-13, so this one really isn't family friendly.
Humor turns up throughout Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She is constantly making quips and cracking jokes, many of which are at least slightly corny. Some of the jokes work well, some only work sort of well, and others don't work at all. A few of the other characters do make a few jokes, but none of them are as funny as Elvira. Even though the humor is a bit cheesy or even crass at times, it ends up working for the movie. Some scenes, especially later in the movie, do have elements from the cheesy B type of horror movies. I think that works well for the movie even though it is a bit cheesy.
Obviously Elvira is the main character. She is very unique and is a fun, entertaining character. She is a bit sarcastic at times, and not all of her jokes work, but she is still a likable character. The credits for the movie list Elvira as playing herself. She is actually a character played by Cassandra Peterson. I think I have heard the phrase Elvira, Mistress of the Dark in connection to her without it being tied to the movie.
Most of the other characters in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark are residents of Fallwell. Some of them end up with a little more than others to do, though none of them are really that developed. Bob is just about the only person who will have anything to do with Elvira. He is kind, and serves as a love interest for her. He owns a movie theater and that does give Elvira a chance to work at one point. Daniel Greene is fine in the part. Patty owns the bowling alley in town which seems to be the big hang out. She is interested in Bob and nasty to Elvira. Patty is not nice at all. Susan Kellerman does well with the part.
Chastity Pariah is in charge of several things in the town and sees herself as the morality police for the town. She wants Elvira gone from the beginning. Chastity is a goody goody type of character, judgmental, and not nice at all. Edie McClurg does well with the part. Mr. and Mrs. Meeker own the hotel where Elvira stays when she first gets to town. Mrs. Meeker clearly makes the decisions in that relationship and she is just as judgmental as Chastity. Several teenagers are shown at times, and most of them, especially the boys, like Elvira.
Aunt Morgana is dead when the movie begins, but she is seen in one or two flashback type scenes. From what is shared about her, she didn't exactly fit in with people in Fallwell either. Uncle Vincent is Morgana's brother and he believes that he is her only living relative. He's shocked when Elvira arrives and is furious when she receives the book of recipes. He tries to act nice to Elvira, but it is clear that he isn't a nice guy. He serves as the movie's villain. W. Morgan Sheppard does well with the part. Jeff Conway turns up in a few short scenes as Travis, a guy who is basically a hired thug or flunky for Vincent.
Jeff Conway - Travis
Elvira - Herself
Daniel Greene - Bob
Susan Kellerman - Patty
Edie McClurg - Chastity Pariah
W. Morgan Sheppard - Uncle Vincent
James Signorelli - Director
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark has turned up on different television stations over the years. I think that some things, mostly some of the suggestive lines, might be edited when the movie is on television. It has been released on DVD in a few versions, including in a two movie set with another campy type of horror movie. The extras consist of a few trailers and a biography on Cassandra Peterson that can be read.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is a bit cheesy and campy and the plot has issues, but it is fun and entertaining overall. People who like this type of movie should give it a chance.
I've rounded up to 4 stars since 3.5 isn't an option.
This review is part of talyseon's Let There Be Lips! Rocky Horror Write Off.