Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

directed by James Signorelli

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark poster  
Elvira is a comedy goth who has her own TV show, where she presents terrible monster movies for a late-night audience. She wears heavy make-up and big hair, shows too much flesh, and has a fast tongue that's apt to get her into trouble. An undiplomatic put-down loses Elvira her job and leaves her short of the $70,000 or so she needs in order to put on the Las Vegas show she's been dreaming of.

When Elvira's aunt Morgana dies, Elvira is one of the people mentioned in her will. So she sets off to Fallwell to find out exactly what she's inherited, with notions of vast wealth. Needless to say, what she does receive is nothing at all like she expected.

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.

Film Details

Decade: 1980s

Categories: Films


Classification: 15

If you like this, try:

Dark Shadows cover    

Dark Shadows by Tim Burton
Barnabas Collins may be a bloodthirsty vampire, but he always puts his family first.


Hell's Belles by Paul Magrs
Weird things happen when a film crew come to Whitby to remake a cursed horror movie. The fourth Brenda and Effie mystery.

2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson