TV Review: Elvira’s 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special, Special. Especially For You! (2021)

Original Run: September 25th, 2021
Created by: Scott D. Marcus
Directed by: Jim Kunz
Written by: Eric Kornfeld
Cast: Cassandra Peterson (as Elvira)

Shudder, 4 Episodes, 80-106 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

For Elvira’s 40th anniversary, she returned for a four episode special on Shudder.

Like the television series that first made her famous and all the other revivals of it, this features her hosting old school horror flicks.

I thought this was a perfect return to form for her and man, she hasn’t lost a step or missed a beat.

Elvira is as entertaining, hilarious and witty as ever and it’s just great seeing her in her element once again, as the woman is by far one of the greatest horror hosts of all-time and beyond that, she’s a national treasure. I mean, who the hell doesn’t love Elvira?

I also enjoyed the four films, even if some of them are far from great. But it’s these kind of movies that helped make her original show what it was and also added the right kind of fuel to her commentary.

My only negative with this special is that it should’ve been bigger. I would’ve loved a dozen or so episodes but I also know how much work goes into these things and honestly, Elvira can do whatever the hell she wants at this point. The fact that she is still game to do these things is a real treat.

Rating: 8/10

Documentary Review: In Search of Darkness: Part II (2020)

Release Date: October 6th, 2020
Directed by: David A. Weiner
Written by: David A. Weiner
Music by: Weary Pines
Cast: Nancy Allen, Tom Atkins, Joe Bob Briggs, Doug Bradley, Clancy Brown, Lori Cardille, John Carpenter, Nick Castle, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Robert Englund, Stuart Gordon, Andre Gower, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Chris Jericho, Jackie Kong, Heather Langenkamp, Don Mancini, Harry Manfredini, Kelli Maroney, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Cassandra Peterson, Diana Prince, Linnea Quigley, James Rolfe, Robert Rusler, Tom Savini, Corey Taylor, Gedde Watanabe, Caroline Williams, Alex Winter, Tom Woodruff Jr., Brian Yuzna

CreatorVC, 263 Minutes

Review:

Everything I said in my review of the first film in this series still holds true for this one. Reason being, they’re exactly the same in what they are. It’s just that each one features different films.

I think that I like this one a wee bit better for two reasons.

The first, is that I already know what I’m getting into now. I know that this will just fly through dozens of films and not give them the proper amount of time they deserve. As I said in the previous film’s review, I’d love to see each section spread out into a full episode and have these films actually be a streaming series.

The second reason, is that I like that the films are getting more obscure, as there were a few here I hadn’t heard of. With that, I walked away from this with a list of shit I need to watch and review.

Apart from that, this was more of the same. That’s not a bad thing, at all. I just wish that these documentaries didn’t fly through films and other topics so quickly.

I still like these, though. I know there’s a third one coming, which I look forward to, and there’s also one coming out on ’80s sci-fi flicks.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the other documentaries in the In Search of… series, as well as other documentaries on ’80s horror.

Documentary Review: In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic ’80s Horror (2019)

Release Date: October 6th, 2019 (Beyond Fest premiere)
Directed by: David A. Weiner
Written by: David A. Weiner
Music by: Weary Pines
Cast: Tom Atkins, Doug Bradley, Joe Bob Briggs, Diana Prince, John Carpenter, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Stuart Gordon, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Lloyd Kaufman, Heather Langenkamp, Kelli Maroney, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Cassandra Peterson, Caroline Williams, Alex Winter, Brian Yuzna, various

CreatorVC, 264 Minutes

Review:

I was anticipating this documentary for a long time. So once it ended up on Shudder, I had to check it out. But holy shit!… I wasn’t expecting this thing to be four and a half f’n hours! Not that I’m complaining but I had to make an entire night out of this thing.

Realistically, this probably would’ve worked better as a documentary television series with an episode focused on each year in the decade. They could’ve expanded even further in that format but then this was crowdfunded and not a traditional production.

Still, this was a cool documentary and while it does jump from film-to-film too fast, it covers a lot of ground. Obviously, it can’t feature every horror film from the ’80s, as there were hundreds (if not thousands) but it does hit on most of the important ones.

This goes through the films in order of their release but it also has a few breaks between each year that focuses on other aspects of ’80s horror.

This is mostly talking head interviews with a few dozen different people, spliced together with footage from all the films they’re talking about. It kind of plays like one of those VH1 I Love the ’80s shows but it is a lot less smarmy. Well, for the most part. There is one guy that kept popping up that I wanted to punch because he was oozing with failed comedian smarm.

Overall, though, this was worth the wait. As I’ve said, I wish it could’ve given more on each film but even four and a half hours isn’t enough time to do more than just scratch the surface with the rich history of ’80s horror.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries about ’80s horror and horror franchises.

Film Review: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Also known as: Elvira (Philippines English title)
Release Date: September 30th, 1988
Directed by: James Signorelli
Written by: Sam Egan, John Paragon, Cassandra Peterson
Music by: James B. Campbell
Cast: Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), W. Morgan Sheppard, Daniel Greene, Jeff Conaway, Susan Kellerman, Edie McClurg, Kurt Fuller, Frank Welker (voice)

NBC Productions, New World Pictures, 96 Minutes

Review:

“Please, I don’t think we need to resort to name calling. I think what Calvin is trying to say is that this Elvira is a person of easy virtue, a purveyor of pulchritude, a one-woman Sodom and Gomorrah, if you will. A slimy, slithering succubus, a concubine, a street walker, a tramp, a slut, a cheap whore!” – Chastity Pariah

This film hasn’t aged well. But I used to love it as a kid. And really, I think this only works if you’re already a pretty big fan of Elvira. If that’s the case, you should definitely give this a watch.

It kind of has a similar vibe to the Pee-Wee and Ernest movies from the ’80s. It’s a cheaply made comedy based on a fictional character that was super popular at the time. I liked the trend of these types of pop icons getting to try out film as a new vehicle for their careers, even if Ernest was the only one that achieved real cinematic longevity.

Lumping this in with those other films, it’s the best of them all after the original Pee-Wee movie, 1985’s Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. But that was also directed by Tim Burton in a time when the guy could do no wrong.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark does a good job with the pieces it had though. Cassandra Peterson is truly a comedy master. She owns the Elvira character, delivers her lines like a champ and is willing to really put herself out there to let Elvira flourish. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Peterson and how she performs her craft. She absolutely was the best horror host of all-time and could perform at a level that other horror hosts couldn’t. That may be a controversial statement to some but I stick by it.

This movie was a great vehicle for her because she got to spend 90 minutes, hamming it up in her unique style, uninterrupted by bad movies and commercial breaks. I wouldn’t call this the highpoint of her career, as she has continued on for decades, but it is the one body of work that best showcases her talent in the most complete way.

I thought the story was decent, the acting didn’t really matter and you just sort of have to roll with this and enjoy it for what it is.

Edie McClurg was perfect as the small town busybody trying to make Elvira’s life hell. I’ve loved McClurg in so many different things but I liked that she wasn’t just a small character in this.

This film is goofy, funny as hell and it’s hard to feel down if this is on the TV. But it won’t be for everyone, not that it needs to be. Elvira fans should be pretty satisfied with it, though.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other oddball comedies of unique people stranded in podunk communities: To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and Son In Law.

Comic Review: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Issue #1

Published: July 4th, 2018
Written by: David Avallone
Art by: David Avallone
Based on: the Elvira character by Cassandra Peterson

Dynamite Entertainment, 32 Pages

Review:

This has been sitting on the shelf in my local comic book shop for months. I figured I’d wait to grab a handful of issues when new ones came out, as I prefer binge reading single issues. However, I guess that since no one bought it at my store, the follow ups were never ordered.

I ended up buying this last week, as it’s Halloween time and because I have enjoyed Elvira since I was a kid whether it was her horror show hosting, her cardboard cutouts in the grocery store or her ’80s movie Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.

I ended up liking this more than I thought I would and I think that I’m going to track down more issues now and possibly several of the umpteen variants. If I ever meet Cassandra Peterson, it’d be cool to have her sign some of these.

Anyway, this was actually a lot of fun. I actually laughed out loud at several of the jokes and quips. David Avallone did a really good job of capturing the character of Elvira and translating Cassandra Peterson’s humor style to the comic. I wish she had some input though, as Joel Hodgson is involved in the writing of his Mystery Science Theater 3000 comic.

The art was really good and I hope that Dynamite Entertainment is able to do more of these in the future and that Elvira sticks around in this incarnation because this felt so pulpy and so right. Maybe Dynamite can get together with other publishers and do some neat crossovers. How about Elvira Meets Batman ’66 or Elvira Meets Archie or Sabrina or whomever. Elvira Versus the Planet of the Apes? Yes, please! Get on it, Dynamite!

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Elvira stuff, Vampirella, the horror themed Archie comics and the Mystery Science Theater 3000 comic.