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Creator / Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

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"You'll always be my mistress
The Queen of Halloween
Haunting every midnight
On my TV screen
If I die tomorrow
Or a zombie eats my brain
I'll raise myself up from the dead
Just to sing your name!"
Ghoultown, "Mistress of the Dark"

When you hear the name "Elvira", one thing immediately comes to mindnote : the quick-witted valley girl, Halloween icon, and quintessential symbol of all things spooky: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

She was born Cassandra Peterson on September 17, 1951. She spent the 1970s struggling to make it as an actress, appearing as an extra in films like Diamonds Are Forever and Federico Fellini's Roma. In 1981, she hit the big time. Adopting the stage name "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark", she became the first nationally syndicated Horror Host, and emerged as one of the most original and outrageous characters in popular culture, with a large cult following. The movies featured on Elvira's Movie Macabre, her first show, were always B grade (or lower) and Elvira often enjoyed interrupting the movie to lampoon the actors, the script, and the bad editing. In 1995, TNBC had her star in Attack of the Killer B Movies, which followed suit but also had co-stars such as Dustin Diamond joining her in the riffing in an attempt to attract younger viewers. The movies, themselves, were also greatly cut for time and colorized.

Elvira's reign as "Queen of Halloween" has now spanned over thirty years and includes two feature films, an IMAX film and 2 motion control rides. She has appeared in national ad campaigns for Pepsi and Coors, recorded 5 music CDs, published 4 books and licensed over 400 products, including three pinball machines, two video games, BC Rich guitars, three comic book series, Elvira’s Night Brew beer, Evil perfume (recently followed by Vamp, Zombie, and Black Roses), gourmet soft drinks, "hosted" a supplement for the horror role-playing game Chill, and a slot machine from IGT. Elvira also boasts the best selling female costume of all time.

She doesn't age. And she's a natural redhead.

She was previously married to singer Mark Pierson. They have one daughter named Sadie. In 2021, her memoir Yours Cruelly, Elvira revealed she's been in a relationship with trainer Teresa Wierson since 2002, whom she'd initially mistaken for male, and is the first woman she ever was attracted to. Peterson stated she didn't come out at first due to fear of prejudice, but felt it was time.

For the tropes concerning her eponymous 1988 film, see here.

For tropes concerning the 2001 film Elvira's Haunted Hills, see here.

Mistress herself:

  • Actor/Role Confusion: Peterson herself acknowledged that many fans have mistaken her for the character she played over the years.
  • Bawdy Song: 2 Big Pumpkins. So big!
  • Boob-Based Gag: Part of the costume, leading to such catchphrases as:
    The sassy lassy with the classy chassis!
    The girl who put the "boob" back in the "boob tube!"
    The gal with the enormous... er, ratings!
    The peace (piece) that everyone's dying to rest in!
    Every Trickers' Treat!
    That chick who put the "rack" in "Dracula!"
  • Cool Old Lady: Now in her seventies and still attracting as many younger crowds as she did in her heyday.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Before her famous role as Elvira, Peterson even worked in gay clubs as a drag queen.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Especially the men in her movies.
  • Divine Date: Elvira denies she worships the devil, but admits she dated him once.
  • Guest Host: In 2004, she hosted an E! True Hollywood Story episode devoted to Scream Queens. She also has the honor of being a three-time guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race.
  • Horror Host: The first nationally syndicated one, though her lighthearted attitude and willingness to mock the films she runs technically makes her a parody of the trope.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Her curvy figure and vampy looks have gained quite a following for someone who started out hosting horror movies in Los Angeles. It's hardly a surprise to learn she did straight-up nude photoshoots before she made it famous, given how willing she is to flaunt her sexuality.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: Her costumes typically feature cleavage slits going down to her navel.
  • Older Than They Look: Cassandra Peterson was born on September 17, 1951. One big advantage of playing a character who uses a ton of makeup is that you never show your age. Even out of costume, however, Cass is still looking pretty good.
  • Perky Goth: Pretty much the Ur-Example. Elvira, while dressed as a goth with the pale skin and black hair, is always chipper and upbeat and making terrible puns.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: As of Movie Macabre (2012), it's "What Can I Do?" by The Black Belles.
  • Signing Off Catchphrase: "So, until next time... unpleasant dreams!"
  • Un Evil Laugh: Amusingly, instead of the purr or cackle you might expect, Eliva's laugh is a rather nerdish snort.
  • X Meets Y: Roger Ebert described her as a combination of Mae West and Vampirella.

Alternative Title(s): Cassandra Peterson