Science fiction and fantasy
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
directed by James Signorelli
With her car broken down and short of money, Elvira finds herself stranded in a small town where her outlandish dress and her reputation for sass don't go down too well. She makes it her mission to help the town loosen up, and to give the local teenagers a taste of liberty before she goes.
However Elvira doesn't count on the influence of her uncle Vinnie, an uptight and tyrannical old man who takes an unusual interest in some of the apparently useless things she has just inherited. Elvira starts to realise that there may be more to her family than meets the eye, and that behind the stage props and witchy clothing that she adopts there may be real magic at work.
But Elvira has a knack for making enemies of powerful people, and rubbing people up the wrong way, inspiring jealousy and upsetting people without really trying to.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark revels in its own silliness. It's full of innuendo, cheesy jokes and kitsch. Elvira faces off against a number of stereotypical adversaries amongst the townspeople, outraged prudes and other people who have their own motives for wanting to see the newcomer put in her place. They are all just stock targets for Elvira to put down, in a movie that never takes itself very seriously at all.
The effects are laughably bad, even for a film that came out in 1988. The movie is played largely for laughs, focusing on the culture clash between the reserve of small-town America and big-city permissiveness. So it's a shame that it's not any funnier, because this is all it's really got. It attempts to appeal to the kind of audience who would enjoy The Rocky Horror Picture Show or American Pie. The tone is camp, puerile and daft, and the jokes are mostly one-track. It's harmless fun, but it really isn't the best example of a comedy horror movie.