“Revenge is better than Christmas” – Elvira
Okay, we’re just past the halfway mark of Shocktober’s 13 Screams of Halloween, so I thought I’d lighten things up just a little bit and run a film I love to watch at this time of year.
Let’s start with a little background for those of you who might never have heard of Elvira. She’s a sassy, vampish, comedic host of an American TV series that showcases really bad, cheaply made old horror movies. The character has been played for over thirty tears by actress Cassandra Peterson, who dons the absurdly tall beehive wig and the makeup to become the character. As far as I recall, I first saw Elvira on a Halloween episode of CHiPS back in the early eighties. Despite her popularity and her cult status, I’m surprised that her TV show was never shown here in the UK. (Thankfully, there’s Youtube.)
This is a film that showcases Cassandra Peterson’s comedic talents and takes Elvira (billed as being played by herself) out of the TV studio and on an adventure in a pretty funny horror comedy that’s light on scares and heavy on double entendres.
Fired from her job as a hostess on a local TV station horror show, Elvira is planning to go to Vegas and star in her own cabaret show. But for this, she needs some money upfront. (That might have been a cleavage pun – who knows?)
Anyhow – she’s broke, but then receives a telegram telling her that an elderly great aunt has died and has left Elvira an inheritance. So off she goes to the small puritan town of Fallwell, Massachusetts in her customised 1963 Ford Thunderbird. Here, instantly she falls foul of just about everybody – especially the gossipy little shrew of a woman who seems to be the REAL power in town, Chastity Pariah.
Sadly, Elvira hasn’t inherited thousands of dollars, just a run down old house, a poodle named Algonquin and a recipe book. Her elderly uncle, Vincent Talbot (R Morgan Sheppard) is very keen to get his hands on the book, saying it’s for sentimental reasons. In reality – he’s a powerful warlock and the book is a tome of spells. Great Aunt Morgana was actually a powerful witch, and the spells in her book will allow Vincent to take over the world during the time of the lunar eclipse, which is upon us.
With the aid of Algonquin, now sporting a punk look and renamed Gonk, who was Morgana’s familiar, and the local teenagers who’ve befriended Elvira as an outsider, she must battle Vincent to save the day and the planet as we know it.
But, it isn’t going to be easy – the owner of the local bowling hall sees Elvira as a competition to her hoped for relationship with Bob, the guy who runs the cinema and ruins a Flashdance inspired performance at the cinema by our heroine by tarring and feathering her from the rafters. Vincent has roused the gullible townsfolk into having Elvira arrested and charged with witchcraft, the sentence - being burned at the stake.
Ultimately, Elvira must embrace her supernatural heritage and use the powers she doesn’t even know she has.
Naturally – as this IS a comedy, after all, Elvira beats the odds, casts a spell that makes it rain, thus extinguishing the flames at the stake, banishes Vincent to the underworld and makes it to Vegas for a stunningly sultry and sassy finishing number.
Light and fun – this film has been part of my Halloween tradition for over 20 years.
You can buy it here.
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