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Friday, April 16, 2010

DVD Review: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

As part of the newly announced "B-Movie Collection" from Boulevard Entertainment due on May 17th, here is a review of the fantastic Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, from new DVD Trash scribe Giuseppe Rijitano.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

The Film:

Beware of spectacular cleavage! Well in the movies anyway, I'm looking at you Halle Berry (Catwoman, Swordfish, etc) and you Salma Hayek (After The Sunset, Bandidas, etc) like a siren's song the trailer tempts us poor mortals in with the promise of comedy and/or action all draped between a pair of tanned funbags - but we're inevitably left watching utter shit. Well this particular pair may be paler and from the 80's but I'm going in fully prepared!

Believe it or not; Cassandra Peterson's late night TV horror movie hostess creation Elvira was once so popular she was given her own feature film - well it was 80's USA, Pee Wee Herman was huge, go figure.

We're introduced to Elvira just as she quits her job hosting late night reruns of black and white Roger Corman classics on TV; there's been a change in the ownership of the network and the new head honcho hasn't read the rules on sexual harassment ("It's milkin' time!") so she's off to fulfil her dream of performing in her own Las Vegas show. Trouble is; first she needs to drum up $50,000. As luck would have it Elvira's great aunt has just passed away and there's an inheritance waiting for collection so next stop Fallwell, Massachusetts.

Once she gets there however Elvira finds herself in a conservative little town, seemingly stuck in the 50's, and run by a Mary Whitehouse-type bunch of old biddies. Worse still her aunt's only left her a decrepit house, a recipe book and a poodle in her will. In the hopes of restoring the house and selling it for a profit Elvira uses her charms to coax the teenagers of the town into aiding her in it's repair ("Just grab a tool and start bangin boys!"). Also it turns out Elvira's aunt was an actual witch and the recipe book is really a spell book which evil uncle Vincent (warlock) would dearly love to get his hands on. Roll on the inevitable witch burning and sorcerer's duel!

This is lightweight lowbrow comedy not embarrassed to employ slapstick and straight to camera dialogue gags. What was only mildly shocking in the 80's is ridiculously inoffensive today. That said highlights do include a gross out Elvira-makes-dinner sequence in which the main course tries to eat the diners and then meets the garbage disposal face first and a Flashdance parody (surely a Footloose one would have been more apt)! It all really comes down to Peterson, if you find her portrayal of Elvira (looks like a goth chick, speaks like an acid tongued valley girl cheerleader) amusing or irritating. I came down on the side of amusing in the end. She has a certain charm, above and beyond her bustline, primarily in her comic timing/delivery and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of one liners and put downs at her disposal. It also helps that the cast is made up of a veritable who's who of 80's supporting comedic talent plus the film looks great ($20 million budget reportedly).

Ultimately it's hard not to like a film that refuses to take itself seriously on any level. My final recommendation - far superior to an episode of TV's Charmed!

The Disc:

Anamorphic widescreen, the picture is soft (especially compared to the clean, colourful Region 1 USA release). DTS (unimpressive), 5.1 and 2.0 tracks included. Couple of text bios thrown in as well.

Giuseppe Rijitano

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