Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), a horror movie hostess with enormous...ratings, quits her job after being sexually harassed by the station's new owner. Her plan is to start a show of her own out in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, she needs to come up with 50,000 dollars in order to get the show going. As she's about to leave the TV studio, Elvira gets a telegram stating her Ant just died, and that she must travel to Fallwell, Massachusetts for the reading of the will. Elvira quickly packs her things, jumps in her car, and drives out to Fallwell in hopes of collecting a fortunate from her Ant's estate.
Elvira arrives in Fallwell just as her car gives in and breaks down. She gets a cold greeting by the uptight locals, who are led primarily by Chastity Pariah (Edie McClurg), leader of the town's morality enforcement. Fortunately for Elvira there are a few young teenagers nearby who are quite eager to give her car a push to the local gas station. Later, at the reading of the will, Elvira meets her uncle, Vincent Talbot (William Morgan Sheppard), and discovers that she's inherited her Ant's house, dog, and cookbook. Vincent offers to buy the cookbook from Elvira for 50 dollars, claiming that he'd like it for sentimental reasons. Elvira, disappointed that she wasn't left a large sum of money, quickly agrees. When Vincent shows up at the house to get the cookbook, it's nowhere to be found. Vincent becomes outraged and begins yelling at Elvira, demanding the book. Elvira calms him down, assuring him that the book will turn up eventually. Vincent is a bit anxious, though, and has a few of his goons poke around Elvira's house in search of the book. After a short time of failed searching, the goons flee the house after being barked at by Elvira's dog.
Elvira, with the help of some local teenagers she's befriended, cleans up her Ant's house and tries to sell it. She has no luck selling, however, and decides to have a horror movie marathon at the local theater. Bob, the town's hunk and owner of the theater, agrees to help. All of the local teenagers show up, but Patti, the town's bitch who has the hots for Bob, ruins the marathon's finale by pouring tar and feathers on Elvira.
Elvira's bad luck is just beginning. She discovers that the cookbook has magical powers and learns of Vincent's evil intentions for the book. Vincent is determined to get the book by any means necessary. Things look bleak for Elvira - the police arrest her and the local townspeople begin making preparations to burn her at the stake.
Anyone who has read some of my past laserdisc reviews most likely knows that I'm a sucker for any movie that brings back childhood memories. This is the case for many people, and I imagine the reason is because childhood is when many of us were first introduced to the horror genre. I was 12 years old when Elvira: Mistress of the Dark was released. Certainly 12 years old can be classified as being a child, but it isn't really the Mistress of the Dark movie that brings back the childhood memories, it's Elvira herself. Those nostalgic thoughts of being a young boy - 5 or 6, perhaps - and of the many nights my brothers and I would sneak downstairs to watch Elvira's "Movie Macabre" TV series. This would be long after our parents had gone to sleep, of course. God forbid they should ever catch us watching horror movies! It didn't really matter to us that all of the horror movies Elvira hosted were horrible. It only mattered that we were watching horror movies, something we were forbidden to watch, and that Elvira, a sexy goddess to any young boy, was our hostess for each and every presentation.
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is by no means a classic, but it's one hell of a good movie in my book. Its camp value alone is worth the price of admission, delivering lots of laughs, cleavage, and mayhem from our favorite hostess - Elvira. I love all the small, often indirect sexual jokes that are thrown in - typical Elvira, but you've got to love it! Who doesn't love the part when all of the uptight town council members start eating Elvira's casserole and turn into nymphomaniacs? And who can't love Edie McClurg's performance here? She plays the part of the town's busybody to perfection - Oscar worthy in my opinion.
Don't see Elvira: Mistress of the Dark thinking it's a horror movie, or even a horror/comedy. It's pure comedy, plain and simply. There are lots of laughs to be had that end up making the movie quite enjoyable. The story itself isn't going to win any Oscar nominations, but that can be said about nearly every horror movie in existence. And hey, if the laughs aren't enough to convince you, there's always Elvira's ... (you figure out the rest).
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This DVD transfer is easily the best the film has ever looked. The image is consistently sharp with very few blemishes appearing. There is some occasional grain, but it never really gets to the point of distracting. Colors are deep and strong, and flesh tones appear accurate. What can I say? Another great transfer by Anchor Bay here. I'm starting to think my descriptions of Anchor Bay's image quality don't change much, but the fact is their transfers remain phenomenal for the most part.
The sound on Elvira: Mistress of the Dark DVD is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. A bit overkill for Elvira, as there aren't all that many scenes that benefit from a 5.1 track. Still, the scenes that do are impressive, with some good activity coming from rear speakers and LFE at times. Dialogue and sound are both distortion free. Also included is a Dolby Surround track.
There's always something to complain about, isn't there? The a/v presentation are great, but the extras are lacking. Who wouldn't have loved to hear a Cassandra Peterson (Elvira) commentary track? It would have been great no doubt. I'm thinking that Cassandra's schedule was too busy wrapping up her new Elvira movie, Elvira's Haunted Hills, which is scheduled to open Halloween 2001. A damn shame! Lets hope we see a track on the Haunted Hills DVD, whenever it's released. Anyway, what we do have here is pretty standard - theatrical trailer, a teaser trailer, Cassandra Peterson bios, and a 4-page Collector's booklet.
A fun movie that's a definite must own for everyone, at least in my opinion. Great a/v presentation by Anchor Bay on the DVD. Sadly, the extras are pretty slim. Still, the great a/v presentation combined with the camp value easily justify the $24.98 price tag.
Movie - B+
Image Quality - A-
Sound - A-
Supplements - C+
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