Sunday, 24 June 2012

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)




"How's your head?"

"I haven't had any complaints yet…"

I love goth girls. I have a bit of a thing for them. Also, I love witty women. I have a thing for them, too. Elvira is, in fact, my dream woman, although perhaps one might venture to criticise her cooking skills. That's a plus before we even start. The fact that the film is extremely funny is an added bonus. Not bad for a film I'd barely heard of just a couple of weeks ago.

Just as a bit of a primer for my fellow non-Americans, Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) was a sort of Vampira for the 1980s, but with added irony and witticisms, a sort of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but with bigger boobs and, judging by the evidence of this film, a lot more wit. She's sexy, sassy, and looks fantastic with a really big gun.

We first see her in an LA television studio, commenting on a 1950s sci-fi B movie of exactly the type I've come to know a fair bit more in the recent weeks of this blog. It isn't long, though, before she loses the job and has to somehow raise $50,000 so that she can perform at Vegas. It's all rather unfortunate for her, but let's be fair; a film's gotta have a plot. And said plot soon throws up a rather well-timed inheritance over in less-liberal-than-expected Massachusetts, right on the opposite coast, meaning we get a brief but rather cool montage of Elvira travelling through America in the coolest car known to humanity.

When she arrives, though, she discovers a town full of the most horrible people imaginable, proper old-fashioned New England Puritans who are- in the phrase cheerfully stolen from H.L. Mencken by Elvira's bit on the side, Bob- terrified that someone, somewhere, might be having fun. So terrified, in fact, that the whole town is quite happy to burn Elvira as a witch without a trial or anything, in deference to good old Massachusetts tradition. It's all good fun, so I think perhaps we ought to gloss over the fact that it isn't 1692 any more, and the USA has a Constitution and everything now. It's an old-fashioned town.

Edie McClurg gives great ham as the delightfully boo-worthy Chastity Pariah, who is responsible for perhaps the most unlikely act of face-sitting in cinematic history. But we also get some pleasingly nefarious moustache twirling from the suitably evil W. Morgan Sheppard as Uncle Vinnie.

On top of this there are loads of naughty double-entendres and some fantastic, subtle sight gags, one of which involves the unfortunate placing of a letter "E", but my favourite was the group of kids toasting marshmallows at Elvira's witch-burning. There's even an issue of Amazing Spider-Man on screen with the cover, I believe, by the one and only Todd MacFarlane. We might not know a lot about Elvira on this side of the pond, but the film is well worth seeing and very, very funny.

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