Director – James Signorelli (Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, Easy Money)
Starring – Cassandra Peterson (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Elvira’s Haunted Hills), Edie McClurg (The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, Faire Tale Theatre), and William Morgan Sheppard (Werewolf, The Doctor and the Devils)
Release Date – 1988
Rating – 3.5/5
Blu Review – 4/5
Tagline – “Elvira makes her big scream debut in her hot new comedy”
I found horror at my local video store browsing through the tapes to find artwork that appealed to me. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a cool local horror host broadcasting public domain horror flicks for me to enjoy. My horror obsession was just by chance. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t discover horror hosts later in life. In fact, when I was in middle school I came across the iconic Elvira while buying random horror tapes.
She was my introduction to horror hosts and a constant reminder of just another thing I was missing out on while growing up in rural West Virginia. I started collecting her Movie Macabre releases over the years and in high school I picked up the DVD release of her 1988 film Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. It would go on to become a favorite of mine but I haven’t watched it much in recent year. When Arrow Video announced the blu release of the film it gave me the perfect opportunity to revisit it. I reached out to MVD and they were kind enough to send over a copy to review. Thanks guys!
**spoiler Alert**The film follows horror host Elvira who quits her job after the cable owner tries to put her on her back. She needs 50k to start a career in Las Vegas and when she received word that a wealthy relatively has died she gets her chance to score the much needed money. However, her quick trip to the small town to get her inheritance turns eventful when she wrecks her car. The townsfolk do not like her and she soon uncovers that the inheritance is an old mansion and a family recipe book. Her uncle, brother to the deceased aunt, wants the book and will stop at nothing to get it. **spoiler Alert**
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is not one of those films that embodies what we love about horror. Instead, it’s a puff piece on the Elvira character and it works perfectly for her branding. It’s a fun movie and I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen this one but I get why some genre fans don’t like it.
The acting in this one is so much fun. Elvira has done a brilliant job building her Elvira character and this film serves as just a continuation of that. She’s in her cheesy element and it’s fun to watch each and every scene with her. The supporting cast is full of colorful characters as well. My favorite belonging to Edie McClurg. Her character in this film is just as entertaining as Elvira’s.
The story for this one is a little too long for what it is but the humor and ridiculous moments more than make up for the storyline being stretched thin. I really enjoy the film and how it was told but it doesn’t really age that well. Fans of 80s cinema will appreciate it but younger generations may not appreciate it for what it is.
Finally, unlike most horror films, this one is not a bloody mess. We get plenty of humor, some practical effects, and some outdated visual effects. If you toss this one in for blood you have bigger problems than the bloodshed. Overall, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is an absolutely joy to watch. It’s fun with plenty of laughs but is dated and a little dry at times. The blu from Arrow looks great. The audio and video is super clean with both being a drastic upgrade over the DVD I previously had. This one is worth every cent.
Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of original film elements
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed stereo 2.0 audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Introduction to the film by director James Signorelli
2017 Audio Commentary with director James Signorelli, hosted by Fangoria editor emeritus Tony Timpone
2017 Audio Commentary with Patterson Lundquist, www.elviramistressofthedark.com webmaster and judge of US TV show The Search for the Next Elvira
Too Macabre – The Making of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark – newly-revised 2018 version of this feature-length documentary on the making of the film, including interviews with various cast and crew and rare never-before-seen archival material
Recipe for Terror: The Creation of the Pot Monster – newly-revised 2018 version of this featurette on the concept and design of the pot monster, as well as the film’s other SFX
Extensive image galleries
Original US theatrical and teaser trailers
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck