Wicked Wednesday: Elvira: Mistress of Darkness (1988)

After last week’s movie’s more, er, serious premise, I was in the mood to watch something cheesy and hopefully funny. And with Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, that’s pretty much as good as you can get. An homage to B-movies with silly characters and an absolutely ridiculous plot.

Elvira is an absolute icon of the genre. She hardly needs an introduction. But even if you’re new here, Cassandra Peterson plays the ditzy goth in her typical fashion.

After getting fired from her TV spot (you know, for not accepting sexual harassment from the station owner), Elvira gets news that a long-lost Great Aunt has put her in her will.

Wanting her own Vegas show, Elvira is in desperate need of $50,000. So the idea of inheriting a large sum of money immediately entices her to travel to Massachusetts for the reading of the will.

But once she arrives in Fallwell, MA, she quickly assesses that her “assets” and look make her stick out like a sore thumb.

Fallwell is a hokey town that looks identical to Kingston Falls and Hill Valley. Only with a lot less fun. The town’s elders are obsessed with chastity and curfews, leaving the other children frustrated (in more way than one).

Elvira’s car breaks down, stranding her in the town for the foreseeable future. She goes to stay in the local inn, but is nearly turned away. She goes to the bowling alley where two men start trouble with her. It’s a lot of the typical “uptight suburbia meets weird weirdo” but it’s quite cute, so it never feels very boring. There’s also a lot of gags about Elvira’s massive tits, but it never feels exploitative, and she certainly comes off as a woman who can hold her own.

At the bowling alley, she meets a guy named Bill who is the most nondescript man ever. But it works.

During the reading of the will, Elvira meets her ‘Uncle Vinnie’, the brother of the deceased Great Aunt Morgana. Elvira learns that she’s inherited three things: a house, a poodle and a book of recipes. Of all these things, its the book of recipes that Vincent seems the most upset about not inheriting. He offers to buy the book from Elvira for $50, and she gladly agrees to the offer.

Morgana’s house is decrepit, and not at all the sort of thing that Elvira can make quick money from. But before they can make their transaction, the book is hidden away by Algonquin the poodle.

The local kids help Elvira fix up the house, but she isn’t able to sell it to anyone. The quirky colours suit her vibrant personality more than anyone else in the town. But the students’ relationship with Elvira riles the locals. The principal and the town council agree to expel any student who associates themselves with the bombshell.

Though the threat doesn’t last too long. After failing to find a job in town, Elvira convinces Bob, who owns the local movie theatre, to show some non-G-rated films at this cinema. The kids sneak out for the midnight showing that Elvira hosts. It’s a success until one of the local idiots, Patty, ruins Elvira’s Flashdance number.

Bob goes to Elvira’s to comfort her. She decides to make him a casserole from her aunt’s cookbook. But instead of green beans with crunchy onions, Bob and Elvira get a beast-in-a-pot that they have to fend off. Thanks to Algonquin’s help, they both realise that Morgana’s cookbook is filled with magic.

Elvira discovers a letter addressed to her from her aunt, explaining that Elvira’s mother was a witch. She had sent Elvira away to be protected from Vincent, who sought only power. But Elvira was left with one thing: a powerful gem that she wears set in a ring.

With the knowledge that she contains real magic, Elvira tries to unleash the casserole monster on the local Morality Club picnic. Instead, though, the casserole fills all the adults in Fallwell with incredible lust.

At the next town council meeting, Vincent reveals that it was Elvira’s magic that did that to them. He then points out that witchcraft is still illegal in the town, and Elvira can legally be burnt at the stake.

Elvira is captured and brought to her pyre. She manages to escape by using the magic of her ring to create a storm. But while she was tied up, Vincent managed to get the spell book. He even gets the ring away from her, making him incredibly powerful.

Vincent terrorizes the locals and chases Elvira to her house. The two battle it out together, and Elvira manages to get the ring back. She bounces his magic straight back to him, and Vincent shatters – dead.

But Elvira’s house burns during the confrontation, leaving her completely broke and without any way of making money. Her dreams of having a show in Vegas are seemingly over. That is, until the locals gather to apologise to the way the treated her.

The lawyer announces to Elvira that she’s the only heir to Vincent’s estate. An estate that was much bigger than Morgana’s. And with that money – the woman has the ability to make her Vegas showgirl dreams come true.

There’s a little big of the 80’s where this type of film was allowed to exist and be entertaining at the same time. A lot of the humour was cheesy and silly, but it was joyful enough to work. I love a bit of suburbia-meets-weird. Like Pee Wee or even a tame John Waters film.

Performances from the greats like Edie McClurg (who has the best accent ever) just made it all the more enjoyable.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a must for any fans. Honestly, how can you be a fan and have not seen this yet? But it’s also pretty fun for a good laugh. Sometimes darkness goes pretty good with a cheap pun.

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