[Review] Arrow Video's 'Elvira: Mistress of the Dark' (1988) Special Edition is Drop-Dead Gorgeous
Arrow Video has unleashed the horror hostess who puts the double D in DVD…
…Or in this case, a brand Spank-ing new blu-ray of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), available now and featuring “the girl with the enormous…ratings,” Elvira (Cassandra Peterson)!
Butt first, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of Elvira and need a refresher, Elvira is a character who was created by the extraordinarily talented Peterson in 1981 when she took over a weekend horror show called Fright Night and came up with the concept of a sexy punk/vampire hostess named Elvira to host, following in line with past horror hostess’ such as Vampira. (who actually sued over Elvira’s similarities, a case which Peterson eventually won in the end). Elvira became a pop culture icon, and got a well-deserved chance to star in her very own film, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.
In the film, which is written by Peterson, Sam Egan and John Paragon and directed by James Signorelli, Elvira discovers she has a great aunt after she learns the old bat has passed away and left her a creepy mansion and an old “cook book”. Elvira heads to the house to slap a new coat of paint on it and sell it for money to get a show in Vegas, but the uptight residents of the town, including Chastity (Edie McClurg) and great uncle Vincent Talbot (William Morgan Sheppard), don’t take too kindly to Elvira, leaving her to ultimately face prude conservative women, horny males of all ages, sorcerers, and even a soup monster.
If you’re Protestant roots are heavy and you get all up in your “sex is shameful” feelings, you be you, but chances are, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark isn’t for you. Elvira’s greatest weapons are her whipsmart one-liners and a sexuality as feisty as a lioness chasing down a helpless antelope, and this film is a sexy runaway train of puns and innuendos that fog up the screen faster than a gothic cemetery. And yes, there’s a ton of that, as well.
The second Elvira arrives in town, she’s the main attraction—in more ways than one—and she knows it. This movie is stacked with boob jokes, and Elvira’s own breasts get her out of a jam more than few times, literally at one point by bust-ing through a gate. Like they say, use it or lose it, right?
And while all of that understandably is going to have some of you rolling your eyes, just know that the thing that makes Elvira: Mistress of the Dark different from other horror-comedies that use sexy women as the main joke, Elvira isn’t just a girl with good looks, and this movie has a lot more to say than a few corny puns.
Elvira is a character that’s all about embracing who you are and giving the finger to anyone that wants to shame you for it, with Elvira: Mistress of the Dark being a showcase for exactly that. When she’s not rolling through town like a punk-rock queen or spending time with G-rated hunky love interest Bob (Daniel Greene), she’s roasting prudes with wicked burns, teaching the kids in town to be themselves, and kicking the ass of perverts and gropey monsters. Elvira isn’t having your shit. It might not (and I hope it doesn’t), apply as much to modern horror fans, but for those of us who grew up when horror wasn’t cool, Elvira is all of us horror-loving outcasts who just wanted to be accepted for being different, and she proves it doesn’t matter what others think, as long as you love yourself.
The film is overloaded with an orgy’s worth of characters, and the jokes either land or fall in where the sun doesn’t shine, but there’s a lot to love about this Adderall-driven gothic horror-comedy.
Presented in 1080p, the new disc from Arrow Video is stunning, and Elvira absolutely glows. There are enough special features packed in to turn a quickie into a night of Elvira adoration, from a few commentaries, one of which features Peterson herself, to the featurette Recipe for Terror: The Creation of the Pot Monster, which goes behind the scenes on the effects of the film, and Too Macabre: The Making of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, a feature-length documentary that is as in depth and in bed with the film as you could ever hope to imagine.
The ugly blemish on all of this?
As far as we can tell, none of this is “new”, with both docs coming in as “revised” editions, and the commentaries all from a previous release in 2017. There is an introduction from director James Signorelli which appears to be new and is good for a few laughs, as he keeps screwing up and eventually quits, but with a release from a source like Arrow, we’d prefer to find a few new additions to the disc outside of a brand new 4K restoration that collectors can add to their shelves.
Still, the disc is drop-dead gorgeous, and even if the features aren’t new, they ARE a kiss from Elvira that will warm the hearts of all fans of the film, so if you don’t already own a copy, take home Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, available now.
Take a look at the special features below!
By Matt Konopka
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