Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Halloween Watch: Elvira Mistress of the Dark (1988)
Viewing: Unknown. 10th?
Decade: so, so 1980's, and, yet, timeless
I still think this movie is hilarious. I dunno - my sense of humor has always run sort of toward the "Bugs Bunny"/ Marx Bros. school of comedy, and so a movie about a wise-cracking horror movie host as fish-out-of-water in small-town uptight Massachusetts is more or less my sweet spot. I like me some double-entendre, visual gags and Edie McClurg.
The movie stands with one foot squarely in 80's movie-making with horn-dog teenagers, cartoonish local townsfolk and a cardboad set-up for our star to do their thing as a series of character moments. But, yeah, in a lot of ways Cassandra Peterson's Elvira character is an examplar of a lot of current trending in female characterization. Sure, there's a romantic subplot, but Elvira is a woman in charge of herself, and not looking for anyone to take care of her or solve her problems. And I don't want to get to heady discussing a comedy where a woman uses her boobs to break the lock on a gate, but she also very much owns her own sexuality, depowering the characters around her even as they take in an eyeful. Which could be dismissed, maybe, but this is every bit Cassandra Peterson's movie, and what she did and does with Elvira is deeply intentional, maybe picking up the torch from Mae West.
This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the release of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), and so we salute not just the surprisingly long career of Elvira the character and the odd, culty following the feature film has maintained for 3 decades despite most folks insistence on not watching it for whatever reason (or misremembering what the movie is like if they did), but also Cassandra Peterson who has managed to keep Elvira a going concern, remains very funny (and looks a few decades younger than she is), while enduring a flurry of interviews that all seem to ask the same questions every Halloween.
You don't need for it to be Halloween to watch this movie - I don't even think it takes place in the fall - but it does star the Queen of Halloween, so you might as well include it in your Halloween movie canon, says I.