Mistress of the Dark Returns17 Jun, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff
‘Elvira’s Movie Macabre’ is resurrected and now haunting viewers on DVD
While some may have thought Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, was resting peacefully in a coffin, Cassandra Peterson — the woman who has played the quick-witted, buxom vixen for 30 years — was busy keeping her empire alive.
“This is a business that I work year-round. … I do licensing, merchandising, always selling some different show or project,” Peterson said. “The machine is always working behind the scenes to pump out new product for Elvira. It’s pretty much my livelihood, and I’ve been able to make a pretty good living out of it.”
Peterson, 59, took on the role of the horror-show hostess back in 1981. Initially she thought playing Elvira would be a temporary gig, but the character caught on. When Peterson appeared on Johnny Carson’s "The Tonight Show," and got her own wax museum figure and pinball machines, she realized how famous she had become.
Since then, Peterson has written and produced two feature films, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988) and Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001), and in 2007 partnered with Fox Reality for a TV show, “The Search for the Next Elvira.” Last fall “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” returned to television after a 20-year hiatus, and airs on 120 TV stations nationwide.
Now, her loyal fan base has something else to look forward to. Entertainment One June 14 released, for the first time, two double features from the “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” franchise: Night of the Living Dead/I Eat Your Skin and Satanic Rites of Dracula/Werewolf of Washington.
“It’s nice to have more new material on DVD that people will see and collect,” Peterson said. “My fans are big collectors of DVDs … so I have the perfect fan base for this kind of a DVD release.”
eOne will release two additional “Movie Macabre” double features Aug. 16 (order date July 19): cult classic director Roger Corman’s The Terror, starring Jack Nicholson and Boris Karloff, with Eegah!, in which Richard Kiel appears as a caveman on a rampage; and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die/The Manster. Each double feature is listed at $14.98.
Six never-before-seen episodes will be exclusive to the double-feature DVD series.
“I’ve got a lot of public domain films that I had re-mastered, so the quality is fantastic,” Peterson said. “[With] some of these films, I kind of feel like if I didn’t have them re-mastered, they could go the way of the dinosaur…”
“I think the show is a lot funnier now and edgier, and a little smarter,” she added. “I think people are really going to like it.”
Peterson credits DVD with providing a vehicle for more people to get familiar with Elvira. According to eOne, Elvira DVDs have sold more than 500,000 units.
“My first movie, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, [is] what I’m probably most known for,” she said. “People seem to love it. It’s become kind of a cult favorite, and I would say that that DVD is largely responsible for my popularity.”
A horror fanatic since childhood, Peterson said she loves watching these campy ‘B’ movie classics from the 1950s and ’60s, and is dying to acquire one film in particular: director Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space.
“[That’s] my favorite ‘good’ bad movie. … Nothing gets worse — or better, in my opinion — than that one,” she said.
“I think the first movie that made an impression on me was The House on Haunted Hill,” Peterson added. “… My favorite shows on TV were ‘The Addams Family’ and ‘Twilight Zone.’ I’ve just always been into it, so this is kind of a dream job for me, and I’m still doing what I like — it’s perfect.”
For more information about Peterson and Elvira, visit www.elvira.com and www.facebook.com/pages/Elvira-Mistress-of-the-Dark-