Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)

There’s a surprising amount of rope to be found in parodying the puritan American values, and boy Elvira, Mistress of the Dark really pulls no punches when it gets its engine running and begins to meticulously ridicule and satirize the subject in every possible way it can think of.

This in now my second time I’ve watched the movie and much to its credit, everything still feels not only fresh but also incredibly funny despite the fact that I basically remembered the punchlines to most of the jokes. The movie just has so much going for it, it’s hard to decide where to begin. It’s surprisingly timeless and charming, so much so that it almost doesn’t even register that this is nearly thirty years old at point. And there undeniably is this weird and highly appealing vibe about the way Cassandra Peterson portrays Elvira in her iconic valley girl personality with so much selfish and a bit air headed benevolent gusto and overall glowing joy that makes everything involving her to appear so marvelously exciting. That really is the secret to her longevity as a character.

My favorite gag in the movie is probably the character Chastity Pariah, who leads the uptight Christian family values movement in the town and is the entire movie on a war path against Elvira. Starting from her name and moving upwards everything about her is such a delicious tongue in cheek satire of the people who like take it up on themselves to cleanse the world of anything they perceive to even remotely be offensive towards their own biased and marginalized concept of decency. It’s so rewarding later on when she gets her comeuppance and gets turned into a pig by Elvira’s uncle, played by ever magnificent W. Morgan Sheppard, you might almost describe the feeling as pure malicious glee. You just have the most wicked of grins on your face.

The movie by large seems to really inhabit all the best parts of 80s comedies. It’s a bit raunchy, but does it in an entertaining way and never turns Elvira into a brainless mannequin of sexual objectification. The premise is entirely clichĂ© and ridiculous, everything is pretty over the top, the characters are all a bit one dimensional and nobody really gets any meaningful character development, yet it’s so entertaining to watch that it never becomes a problem. Instead the picture more or less seems to turn everything to its advantage and highly enjoyable comedy. The movie is just great, with indefinite re-watch potential. 


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