Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

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This article is about the 1988 film. For the character, see Cassandra Peterson. For the video game, see Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Signorelli
Produced by Eric Gardner
Mark Pierson
Written by Cassandra Peterson
John Paragon
Sam Egan
Music by James B. Campbell
Cinematography Hanania Bier
Edited by Battle Davis
Distributed by New World Pictures (20th Century Fox)
Release dates
  • September 30, 1988 (1988-09-30)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7.5 million
Box office $5,596,267[1]

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is a 1988 comedy horror film directed by James Signorelli. Cassandra Peterson plays the role of horror hostess Elvira in the character's feature film debut. The screenplay was written by Peterson, John Paragon and Sam Egan.[2]


Los Angeles TV horror hostess Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (Cassandra Peterson) quits her job after an outburst involving sexual harassment with the station's new owner. At the same time, Elvira has an act opening up in Las Vegas; the problem is, she needs $50,000 to open it up completely.

Later, she discovers she has been included in the will of her late great-aunt Morgana, which entitles her to all of Morgana's worldly possessions: a mansion in Fallwell, Massachusetts, a poodle, named Algonquin, who does not really seem to be what it appears, and a book containing what she believes to recipes. She travels to Fallwell to claim her inheritance. Her seductive dress and attitude makes her a target for the conservative town council but she strikes up a close friendship with Bob Redding (Daniel Greene), the local theater operator. Her feminine charms and essentially good nature also attract the attention of many of the town's teenagers, much to the chagrin of their closed-minded parents who see her as a bad influence. Bob's infatuation with Elvira also infuriates his love interest Patty (Susan Kellermann), a bowling alley owner who, with the help of several members of the school board and PTA, sabotage Elvira's good name and her attempts to open a late night film fest using Bob's theater, the last straw breaking when, whilst emulating a Flashdance scene, she is covered with a bucket of tar instead of gold glitter and feathered by Patty, humiliating her. Even her attempts to sell her house are thwarted by a deal gone bad. All the while, Elvira's seemingly-harmless uncle, Vincent Talbot (W. Morgan Sheppard), who is in fact a warlock, wages an obsessive quest to obtain Morgana's secret "recipe book", which is actually a powerful spell tome, and using them to destroy Elvira and take over the world. It is Talbot who is largely responsible for the suspicion of the town's adults and their hatred toward Elvira.

Elvira tries to console herself, and impress Bob, by cooking dinner using one of Morgana's recipes (Adraka Kozorol) and, despite the oddity of the ingredients, she succeeds, only to have herself and Bob attacked by a creature created from the mixture. Elvira discovers that the recipe book is actually the spellbook of her mother Divana, and her Aunt Morgana hid her to protect her from Vincent. She plots to use the same creatures at the Morality Club picnic that weekend. The plan does not go accordingly, however, as Elvira admitted she ran out of witchy ingredients and substituted Hamburger Helper for "fulemgra". Instead of being attacked by monsters, the concoction has an aphrodisiac effect causing the adults to lose their inhibitions and begin tearing each other's clothes off promiscuously at the park, eventually being arrested for indecent exposure. When Patty tries to come between Elvira and Bob, Elvira grabs hold of Patty's top and sucker punches her — tearing her top off in the process and revealing to the public that Patty is actually flat chested and was stuffing her shirts the whole time, leaving her the humiliated one. Vincent shows up at a town meeting and accuses Elvira of witchcraft which he says is still illegal in the state. The townsfolk decide to set an example and arrest her. The fear and hatred escalates and Elvira is to be burned at the stake. The teenagers rally to help her but they end up breaking into an empty cell and lock themselves in.

While she is in jail Bob goes to the mansion to recover the spellbook. He is attacked by Vincent and two thugs who tie him up and steal the spellbook. In the jail cell Elvira's dog transforms into a mouse and escapes to the mansion where he unties Bob. Elvira is brought out to the town square, tied to a stake as a fire is lit. She remembers her great aunt's ring she is wearing and uses it to incant a rain-making spell. The rain puts out the fire that's about to burn her and with Bob's help she manages to escape. Vincent learns of Elvira's escape and decides to destroy her himself, turning town councilwoman Chastity Pariah (Edie McClurg), the school principal (Robert Benedetti) and the town's Realtor (Kurt Fuller) into pigs in the process. Discovering that Vincent is behind this, Elvira tries to face him, but he steals the ring from her. Vincent chokes Bob and throws her dog into the trash compactor. She retreats to her house and Vincent gives chase, but not before Elvira attacks him. When Elvira enters through the back door, she is confronted by one of the two thugs and attacks him using a magic ingredient. Inside the house Elvira and Vincent battle and their magic sets the house on fire. In the fray, Vincent's hand gets cut off, thereby losing Morgana's ring, and Elvira uses it on him, expelling him to the underworld. The magic book is destroyed in the fire. She managed to escape the house before it is completely engulfed in flames.

The next morning, Elvira, whose house was destroyed along with all of her aunt's possessions and magical objects destroyed, is ready to leave town. She is approached by the townspeople who apologize for their behaviour and a shamed Patty who was embarrassed by Elvira the day before after she embarrassed Elvira, as well as all the teenagers who, with Bob try to convince Elvira to stay. As she has nowhere to stay, she opts to leave town, but not before kissing Bob, hinting at a blooming relationship. In addition, Elvira received the rights to the estate of her now disappeared uncle Vincent and that included money for Las Vegas; thus fulfilling Elvira's dream.

The final scenes follows Elvira's experiences as portrayed in a suave and sexy song and dance number on a Las Vegas stage, now officially labeling her as "Mistress of the Dark".



The film received a Razzie Award nomination for Cassandra Peterson as Worst Actress in 1989, losing to Liza Minnelli for both Arthur 2: On the Rocks and Rent-a-Cop. Rotten Tomatoes maintains it with a 47% rating, indicating mixed-to-negative reviews.


The original music score was composed by James B. Campbell and the soundtrack features the single I Put a Spell On You performed by Joanna St. Claire.

Awards and Nominations[edit]



  • Best film: 1990[3]

Saturn Awards

Golden Raspberry

Stinkers Bad Movie Awards

  • Worst Picture: 1988[6]


In 2001, The Elvira Movie Company and Media Pro Pictures released Elvira's Haunted Hills, the official sequel.[7]


  1. ^ Elvira, Mistress of the Dark at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1988-09-30). "'Elvira' Matches Films She Introduces on TV". LA Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  3. ^ IMDb Fantasporto 1990
  4. ^ IMDb Saturn Awards 1990
  5. ^ "Razzie 1988". Razzies.com. Retrieved 2012-05-02. 
  6. ^ "1988 11th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 17, 2006. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  7. ^ US. "Official MySpace". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 

External links[edit]