Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) - Cassandra Peterson

When her great aunt dies, famous horror hostess Elvira heads for the uptight New England town Falwell to claim her inheritance of a haunted house, a witch’s cookbook and a punk rock poodle. But once the stuffy locals get an eyeful of the scream queen’s ample assets, all hell busts out and breaks loose. Can the Madonna of the Macabre find love with a studly cinema owner, avoid her creepy great uncle, titillate the town’s teens and become a Las Vegas dance sensation all without being burned alive at the stake?

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is a 1988 comedy horror film directed by James Signorelli. Cassandra Peterson plays the role of horror hostess Elvira in the character’s feature film debut. Other starring are Phil Rubenstein, Larry Flash Jenkins, Tress MacNeille, Damita Jo Freeman, Edwina Moore, Mario Celario and Lee McLaughlin. The screenplay was written by Peterson, John Paragon and Sam Egan.

About the Story

Los Angeles TV horror hostess “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark” (Cassandra Peterson) quits her job after the station’s new owner sexually harasses her. She plans to open an act in Las Vegas, but needs $50,000 for the project. Upon learning she is the primary beneficiary of her deceased great-aunt Morgana, she travels to Fallwell, Massachusetts, to claim the inheritance, which includes a mansion and Morgana’s pet poodle, Algonquin.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

In Fallwell, Elvira’s worldly attitude and revealing clothes set the conservative town council against her. But theater operator Bob Redding (Daniel Greene) befriends her. The town’s teenagers quickly accept her, to the chagrin of their parents, who consider her a bad influence. Bowling alley owner Patty (Susan Kellermann) is interested in Bob, and with help from members of the school board and the PTA, she humiliates Elvira by sabotaging the late-night film festival she was presenting at Bob’s theater. Elvira struggles to sell the house, so she can depart for Las Vegas. Meanwhile, she is unaware that her seemingly-harmless uncle Vincent is actually a warlock who is obsessed with obtaining Morgana’s spellbook; he plans to kill Elvira and conquer the world, and has been fuelling the townspeople’s hostility.

Elvira tries to impress Bob with a home-cooked dinner, but mistakenly uses the spellbook as a cookbook and summons a creature that attacks them. Elvira learns that the book was her mother Divana’s spellbook, and that Morgana hid her to protect her from Vincent. When Elvira tries to unleash the creature against the Morality Club at their picnic, she prepares the brew incorrectly and it instead has an aphrodisiac effect; the adults remove each others’ clothing indiscriminately and are arrested for indecent exposure. When Patty confronts Elvira, the resulting fistfight ends up humiliating Patty by revealing that her bra is stuffed.

Vincent leads the townspeople in arresting Elvira for witchcraft, which is still illegal in the state. They decide to burn her at the stake. The teenagers try to free her from jail, but fail and accidentally lock themselves into a different cell. Bob tries to recover the spellbook from the mansion, but is tied up by Vincent, who takes the book.

Algonquin transforms into a mouse and unties Bob. Elvira is tied to a stake and the fire is lit, but she uses Morgana’s ring to summon rain that quenches the fire; she escapes with Bob. At the mansion, Elvira and Vincent engage in a magical battle that sets fire to the house. Elvira banishes Vincent to the underworld, while the house and all the magical artifacts are destroyed.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark Movie Poster (1988)

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Directed by: James Signorelli
Starring: Cassandra Peterson, Phil Rubenstein, Larry Flash Jenkins, Tress MacNeille, Damita Jo Freeman, Edwina Moore, Mario Celario, Lee McLaughlin
Screenplay by: Sam Egan, John Paragon
Production Design by: John DeCuir Jr.
Cinematography by: Hanania Baer
Film Editing by: Battle Davis
Costume Design by: Betsy Heimann
Set Decoration by: Bruce A. Gibeson
Music by: James B. Campbell
Distributed by: New World Pictures
Release Date: September 30, 1988