Horror Movie Review: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

“And if they ever ask about me, tell them I was more than just a great set of boobs. I was also an incredible pair of legs.”

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a 1988 American comedy horror film directed by James Signorelli. Cassandra Peterson plays the role of horror hostess Elvira in the character’s feature film debut.

Los Angeles TV horror hostess Elvira, Mistress of the Dark 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 a beneficiary of her deceased great-aunt Morgana, she travels to Fallwell, Massachusetts, to claim the inheritance, which includes a mansion, a recipe book and Morgana’s pet poodle, Algonquin.

In Fallwell, Elvira’s worldly attitude and revealing clothes set the conservative town council against her. But theater operator Bob Redding 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 is interested in Bob, and at Elvira’s late-night horror film festival at Bob’s theater she succeeds in humiliating Elvira. Elvira struggles to sell the house, so she can depart for Las Vegas. Meanwhile, she is unaware that her harsh but 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 as an infant to protect her from Vincent. When Elvira tries to unleash the creature against the Morality Club at their picnic, she prepares the brew incorrectly. It instead has an aphrodisiac effect. The adults remove each other’s clothing indiscriminately and are arrested for indecent exposure.

Will they catch on to Elvira? Will she ever make a home in this rotten town? Watch and find out.

As I was going into this I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Of course, I’ve heard of Elvira but I didn’t and still don’t know a whole lot about her (being from England and also born in the early 90’s I I didn’t watch her on TV). Because of this I thought it was time I watched her movies and became a little more familiar with this beloved character.

And I’m glad I did. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is an extremely good time. It’s very funny and Elvira is enjoyable to follow. The concept is perfect, with her character visiting a repressed and conservative town – their reactions were priceless.

I’m not sure what I was anticipating but I certainly didn’t expect Elvira to be so wise-cracking and humorous. She really is more than just a great set of boobs. I enjoyed her embracing her sexuality, it was refreshing and added to the comedy.

Additionally, the effects were way better than expected. Any CGI is hidden with a stylized flourish which is clever and gives the film longevity.

Some negatives I have to address are her weak love interest. Bob is boring and doesn’t do a whole lot. It felt as if their romance may go somewhere but then it just dissipates. Also the townsfolk deserved way more than they got, they literally try to murder her. Lastly, I found her sexual performance on stage at the theatre to be strange. She’s performing in front of underage high school students. She also leads them into fixing up her house by acting more sexual. If a man encouraged high school girls to paint his house by oiling up his pecs, he would be considered a predator.

Overall, a fantastically entertaining horror comedy from beginning to end. Would definitely watch again. I look forward to viewing her other film!


  • Sally Powell

    Editor/Writer - Stay at home mum educating the horror minds of tomorrow. If it's got vampires or Nicolas Cage in it, I'm sold. Found cleaning bums or kicking ass in an RPG. (And occasionally here reviewing all things horror and gaming related!)

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)
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