'Elvira Mistress of The Dark: Special Edition'
(Cassandra Peterson, Jeff Conway, Edie McClurg, Tress MacNeille, Kurt Fuller, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1988) 2020 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: She's back! Elvira, Horrorland's hostess with the mostest, finally busts out on newly restored Blu-ray with this long-awaited, positively bursting-at-the-seams special edition of her big screen debut, 'Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.'
Having just quit her job as a Los Angeles TV horror hostess, Elvira receives the unexpected news that she s set to inherit part of her great aunt Morgana's estate.
Arriving in the small town of Fallwell, Massachusetts to claim her inheritance, Elvira receives a less than enthusiastic reception from the conservative locals amongst them, her sinister uncle Vincent; who, unbeknownst to Elvira, is in fact an evil warlock secretly scheming to steal the old family spellbook for his own nefarious ends!
Blu-ray Verdict: After 'Easy Money,' Saturday Night Live veteran James Signorelli directed one more film. This one - starring Cassandra Peterson as her Elvira character.
In 1981, six years after Sinister Seymour, the producers of LA's Fright Night decided to do another show and asked Vampira - Maila Nurmi - to help them with the project.
There were creative differences - supposedly Nurmi wanted Lola Falana to play Vampira - and soon the station just did the show themselves (for her side of the story, please watch Vampira and Me).
Peterson had already lived a crazy life before she auditioned and won the role of the new horror host. She was a Vegas showgirl at 17, briefly dated Elvis, played a showgirl in Diamonds Are Forever, posed for men's magazines like High Society, tried out to be Ginger in a new Gilligan's Island, was on the cover of Tom Waits' album (she claims that she doesn't remember, but it totally could be her), played in rock bands in Italy, ended up in Fellini's Roma, joined the improv group The Groundlings, and then ended up as a DQ on KROQ!
Anyways, back to Elvira. The station allowing her to create the image of her character. Originally, she wanted to look like Sharon Tate in The Fearless Vampire Killers, but ended up with the punky and busty look we've all come to know and love.
Before the first episode even aired, Normi sued, claiming that Elvira was too close to her character. I'll leave it up to you, dear reader, but they are quite similar.
However, her Valley Girl delivery and sarcastic tone was a real difference and Elvira went from local star to pop icon. That all led to this, her first movie.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark quits her job in LA after the station's new owner has a #metoo moment with her. She wants to start an act in Vegas, but needs $50,000.
Luckily, her great aunt Morgana has just died and she has to travel to Fallwell, Massachusetts to claim the inheritance.
So what does she get? A mansion, a recipe book and Morgana's pet poodle, Algonquin. But once she's in town, she learns that no one is allowed to have fun and she sets out to change everyone's grey demeanor.
Oh yeah - and her uncle Vincent just wants the cookbook - which is a book of spells - and he also wants to sacrifice her so that he can take over the world.
Thus, PG-rated magic battles ensue, Algonquin becomes a rat at one point and the town's morality club gets hit with a sex spell that gets them all arrested for indecent exposure.
Fellow Groundling Edie McClurg shows up as one of the villains, as does former Grease and Taxi heartthrob Jeff Conaway. Other Groundlings in the film are Lynne Marie Stewart, Deryl Carroll, Joseph Arias, Tress MacNeille and John Paragon.
Scripted by Sam Egan and Paragon, who is better known as Jambi and Pterri from his Pee-Wee's Playhouse days, along with Peterson, this movie's entertainment level will depend on how much you love puns and Elvira, of course.
Personally, and in closing, and with a healthy budget of about $7,500,000, I must admit I'm not sure where all the money went, given that there are very few special effects, no big name actors or huge action scenes.
Still, 'Elvira, Mistress of The Dark' is a nice enough way to pass and hour and a half (especially in our current social-distancing climate) and actually still offers up a few amusing moments. Sure a lot of the jokes feel dated and the overall story is weak, but I still think it's worth a watch.
Which I hope you do too, given that this film has finally now bust out as a newly restored Blu-ray! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
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, elviramistressofthedark dot-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
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring writing by Kat Ellinger and Patterson Lundquist
Official 'Elvira Mistress of The Dark: Special Edition' Blu-ray Purchase Link