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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 mind:note  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 two 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.

Mistress herself:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Her costumes typically feature cleavage slits going down to her navel.
  • Bawdy Song: 2 Big Pumpkins. So big!
  • 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 — a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Especially the men in her movies.
  • Divine Date: Elvira denies she worships the devil, but admits she dated him once.
  • Gag Boobs: 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!"
  • 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.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Her curvy figure and vampy looks have gained quite a following for someone who started out hosting horror movies in Los Angeles.
  • 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.
  • She's Got Legs: The Elvira costume stressed the Gag Boobs but also showed off her long legs.
  • Signing Off Catchphrase: "So, until next time... unpleasant dreams!"
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Elvira is not immune to suffering from slapstick at times.
  • X Meets Y: Roger Ebert described her as a combination of Mae West and Vampirella.

The film Elvira's Haunted Hills contains examples of:

Elvira's Haunted Hills (2001)
"Evil. Terror. Lust. Some girls really know how to party!"
Elvira and her maid ZouZou are en route to perform in the Parisian Revue `Yes I Can Can' but inadvertently end up at the sinister Lord Vladimere Hellsubus' medieval castle. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Vladimere's long-dead wife, Elvira learns of the Hellsubus curse and finds her life in danger. The film was released on June 23, 2001.

  • Catapult Nightmare: In the opening, Elvira bolts upright from her sleep after having a nightmare about being buried alive behind a brick wall in a haunted castle.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The stagecoach accompanying Dr. Bradley Bradley on its way to Castle Hellsubus just happens to make a stop for Elvira and Zou Zou.
  • Delicious Distraction: While escaping from their landlord, Zou Zou spots a large blood sausage meat and takes it with her.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Zou Zou and the stagecoach driver end up making out, leading to the stagecoach to suffer a few speed bumps as a result.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Elvira first meets Adrian, he's cleansing a gun by stroking it up and down with a small towel in his lap. Lampshaded hilariously by Elvira who tells him to "be careful or that thing might go off in your hand".
  • Double Entendre: The film's title is not just a reference to a haunted castle in the hills but also a pun on Elvira's breasts.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: When Elvira asks why Adrian is insistent on saving Lady Ema Hellsubus after everything she has done to them, Adrian reveals that Ema is his illegitimate half-sister.
  • Foreshadowing: Elvira's nightmare in the opening of being held captive and tortured in a haunted castle.
  • Hong Kong Dub: Everybody talks normally except for one badly-dubbed character named Adrian (the character's actor spoke in romanian and the english voice actor for the dubding is Rob Paulsen). Lampshaded when Elvira turns to the camera to ask, "How does he do that?"
  • Ill Girl: Roxana, who suffers some sort of unknown illness and coughs so violently that a piece of her lung flies out from her mouth. Her illness may be connected to the curse of the Hellsubus castle.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: Dr. Bradley Bradley banging on the roof of the stagecoach ride, asking the stagecoach driver if he is making out all right. Smash Cut to Zou Zou and the stagecoach still busy making out while driving.
  • Marshmellow Hell: Due to hitting a speed bump, Dr. Bradley Bradley ends up faceplanting Elvira's breasts accidentally.
  • Overcrank: The scene is sped up to a very fast pace as Elvira and Zou Zou escape their hotel room.
  • Repetitive Name: Bradley Bradley.
  • Running Gag: The screaming.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The film pays homage to B-horror films like Edgar Allen Poe's House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum 1961 and The Tomb of Ligeia.
    • When the castle is destroyed, it breaks in two and sinks to the ground like The Titanic.
    • Elvira and Zou Zou's landlord Johan chops through their bedroom door with an axe, shouting "Here's Johan!".
    • Elvira compares the bumpy stagecoach ride to "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride".
  • Suggestive Collision: Elvira and Dr. Bradley Bradley crash into one another suggestively several times as the stagecoach hits a few speed bumps.
  • Tempting Fate: When the landlord Johan knocks at Elvira and Zou Zou's door, reminding them that their checkout time at the hotel is up and he wants his money, Elvira tells Zou Zou to just go back to sleep and asks "What's he going to do? Kill us?". Then the landlord begins to chop down their door with an axe and Elvira and Zou Zou have to escape through their hotel window to safety.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Dr. Bradley Bradley saves Elvira from falling by pulling her back into the stagecoach, grabbing onto her breasts in the process.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Elvira takes a single bite of the blood sausage Zou Zou found and then promptly tosses the rest.
  • Think of the Censors!: When Elvira hears a noise coming from her bedroom window being blown open by the winds and is about to exit her bubble bath, she breaks the fourth wall and advises the camera to turn away so the film's rating wouldn't go up. The camera then abruptly cuts away to a towel as Elvira exits the bath and puts on a robe off screen.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Elvira's maid Zou Zou keeps various objects such as a vanity mirror, Elvira's heels, and a blood sausage in between her boobs handy.

Alternative Title(s): Cassandra Peterson