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Film / Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)
aka: Elvira Mistress Of The Dark

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Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a 1988 Horror Comedy film starring the Mistresss of Darkness herself, Elvira. This was one of NBC's few theatrical features (a co-production with New World Pictures).

After getting fired by her Slimeball boss, Horror Host Elvira plans to try luck opening an act in Las Vegas, but is short in money to do so. Learning that her great-aunt Morgana has died and left her part of her will, she decides to travel to the small town of Falwell, Massachusetts to claim the inheritance.

But things won't be so easy to her, as her great-uncle Vincent is also interested in getting a hand of the inheritance, not helped by how the small town locals and their Morality Council are out to try to get rid of Elvira by all means necessary...


Elvira: Mistress of the Dark provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful School Jurisdiction: The school faculty makes the decision to expel any student caught associating with Elvira.
  • Action Dress Rip: Happens off-screen during the climax as the Big Bad chases Elvira.
  • Agony of the Feet: Elvira stomps down on her lecherous ex-boss's foot with her heel when he attempted to grab her breasts. Later, she trips and falls in the town cemetery running from the antagonist, due to her high heels.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Robin, who can't help to eye Elvira from the legs up and later attracts the attention of a boy named Randy.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Vincent Talbot says this word for word as he threatens to harm Elvira and her beloved poodle Gonk after she tells him that the deal to buy the spellbook is off.
  • Artistic License – Military: Apparently in the film's universe, you can buy rocket launchers at Army Surplus stores, as Elvira takes one out of such a store and shoots Talbot with it, not that it does any good.
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  • Asshole Victim: Vincent turns Chastity, Cobb, and Glotter into pigs. Considering how they treated Elvira (including trying to get her burned at the stake at the end), they completely deserve it. Better yet, we never see them again, implying they stayed pigs permanently.
  • Betty and Veronica: Mean girl Patty (Betty) and newcomer Elvira (Veronica) are this when both women compete for the affections of Bob (Archie), who takes a liking to Elvira.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Once under the influence of Elvira's potluck casserole, Chastity sits on another dazed man's face, much to his confusion and horror as he is not in a any clear state of mind to what's going on. Elvira and Bob watch in shock and amusement as the townspeople's hedonism takes over. Once sober and in the city hall courtroom, Chastity accuses one man of having his way with her. He says otherwise that he barely got away with his life and that "[Chastity] could've worn out a mechanical bull". Chastity denys any such acts took place on her part and demands that "pervert" be removed from the courtroom. Another hungover man insists that he "never laid a hand on those sheep". And Mrs. Meeker calls herself an innocent bystander and that actually another person at the potluck was "painting everyone with apple butter". All Played for Laughs.
  • Blithe Spirit: Elvira arriving to the small town of Falwell completely shakes the town's status quo, as the town is more or less stuck in the 1950s (with a passel of Moral Guardians led by one Chastity Pariah making it sure to keep it that way). The sole movie theater only shows G-rated films and the hub of social life is a bowling alley known as the Tidy Bowl. Elvira's Perky Goth, Ms. Fanservice personality is a lively, positive shock to the system (especially for the men), even before she programs a late-night screening of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!, befriends the local teenagers and shows them how to truly have fun, and uses actual witchcraft to take revenge on the goody-goodies at a potluck.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: One of the council claims that they never laid a hand on someone's sheep, as a result of Elvira's potluck casserole. But his facial expression and guilt says otherwise.
  • Boobs of Steel: Elvira is engorged and still able to hold her own when dealing with a sex offender ex-boss, a ax murderer trespasser who tried something with her, and two of Vincent Talbot's henchmen hitting on her. At one point, she literally uses her boobs to break open a locked gate to escape from the cemetery away from the antagonist.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Elvira doesn't quite demolish it in this film, but she certainly leaves a sizable hole (or a pair of them). Probably most memorably in the scene in which she learns the truth of her heritage, and she finally has sex with her Love Interest. During the Fade to Black Elvira looks right at the audience smirks as she pulls Bob down with her.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: Pun aside, Elvira gets this when she pulls one rope on the bucket and causes tar and feathers to fall down on her during her Flashdance to the song "Maniac".
  • Burn the Witch!: Chastity Pariah's bunch (no thanks to Uncle Vincent goading them) invoke this trope on Elvira.
  • Buxom Is Better A lot of camera shots emphasize Elvira's cleavage and several townsfolk get distracted looking at or complementing her bosom.
  • The Cameo: Pee-wee's Playhouse alumnus John Paragon appears as a gas station attendant.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Played straight Elvira's ring. Oddly subverted with the dagger she always has affixed to her chest. Despite wearing it in every scene she never uses it (either as a weapon or some kind of plot device.)
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Patty is this to Bob despite the fact that they're not even dating each other nor is he interested in her.
  • Combat Stilettos: Subverts the old trope about female victims running from slasher-movie villains, then tripping and falling (and then being killed) due to high heels... Elvira throws her stiletto heels as weapons.
  • Cool Car: Elvira's Macabremobile. Later reappears on Counting Cars.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Elvira is many things that may not correlate with goody-goody, but she's nowhere near a bad person... unlike the Gossipy Hens.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Not in the film itself, but commented on during the beginning with the B movie.
  • Dirty Old Man: The maintenance old man helping with the repairs for her car compliments her "nice tits" once Elvira is out of sight.
    • Her ex-boss at the studio, full stop.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Every guy in town who sees Elvira!
  • Divine Date: Elvira denies she worships the devil, but admits she dated him once.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The scene where she gets Tarred And Feathered is pretty obviously meant to resemble the infamous "blood scene" in Carrie, as, like with Carrie, Elvira is finally having things go her way for once, only to have it ruined it get humiliated by some jealous asshole.
  • Double Entendre: Makes up the other half of Elvira's dialogue.
    • When she goes to the bowling alley:
      Elvira: Bloody Mary.
      Barmaid: No hard liquor served past eight o'clock. Do you want a virgin?
      Elvira: Maybe, but, ah... I'll have a couple of drinks first.
    • One interpretation of this in a conversation when Bob checks to see if Elvira is alright after a letter fell and struck her. He asks her "how is your head" and Elvira gives quite a different answer.
    • When Vincent Talbot pulls up in his luxurious car next to Elvira offering her a ride, Elvira snaps "Buzz off creep, I'm not in the mood!" before realizing who she's talking to.
  • Do Wrong, Right: When the town's sheriff prepares with the rest of the townspeople to burn Elvira at the stake, Patty stops him, telling him that what he's doing is wrong... and even Elvira's surprised that her rival wants to help save her. Unfortunately, Patty then tells them that "It'll catch faster if you light it in several places..." and proceeds to speed up the lighting of the fire by moving her torch all over it, much to Elvira's shock. Patty then finishes and as the townspeople join in, yells "BURN IN HELL, WITCH!" and smiles evilly.
  • Dramatic Drop: Played for Laughs. Elvira offers some glasses of lemonade to the Fallwell teenagers and then drops the entire tray and glasses of lemonade and covers her mouth in shock. Why? Because her new house looks fabulous thanks to the paint job and clean up they all worked on together.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Elvira stares at Bob's behind when he gets up and bends over to get something from the living room couch.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The whole story is one long example: after being fired by her Slimeball boss for not giving him sexual favors, she heads to Fallwell to get an inheritance, only to find out it's just a decrepit house, a dog, an a "recipe book". Eventually, Chastity Pariah gets the whole town to hate her (although the kids still seem to like her). This gets to its worst when her Evil Uncle Vincent turns out to be a wanna-be Evil Sorcerer, who wants the book (which is really a spellbook) and tries to get her burned at the stake. She manages to get free and destroy him, but her house is ruined. Thankfully the town decided they were wrong about her and start being nice. Even better, she inherits Vincent's stuff now that he's gone, and can finally get a show in Las Vegas (which she wanted all along).
  • Erotic Eating:
    • As Elvira heads to Falwell, guess where the hot dog lands when it slides out of the bun...
    • The picnic potluck scene. Everyone who ate the food Elvira cooked suddenly felts very warm and lustful afterwards. One guy holds up a sausage and asks Patty if it reminds her of anything. Patty smirks, holds up a taco shell, asks him if it reminds him to anything. Then she puts both foods together and eats it while he's watching. One woman is also seen applying mustard to an old man's ear and licking it off.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: A young Amish woman in a buggy is very taken with her and enticingly waves hello. One teenage girl, Robin, also couldn't help but stare at Elvira from legs to chest. Elvira doesn't seem to mind at all.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Gonk growls at Uncle Vincent.
  • Evil Is Petty: Patty. The whole reason she hates Elvira (and even tries to help burn her to death)? she's mad that Elvira has bigger boobs than she does.
  • Evil Uncle: Elvira's maternal uncle, Vincent Talbot.
  • Familiar: Algonquin the poodle (aka Gonk) is revealed to be one.
  • Fiction Isn't Fair: The whole story is kicked off by her getting fired by her Slimeball boss for not giving him sexual favors. Obviously, this would be a major act of sexual harassment in real life and she could sue his ass off (and likely win easily, as there were several witnesses and he wasn't at all subtle about it.) Of course then there would be no movie.
  • Freudian Slip: During the hosting of a B-horror film: "And don't forget that head with two things — I mean, that thing with two heads!"
  • Fun-Hating Villain: The whole "Morality Club" in Basically, they hate her precisely because she's fun and sexy, and they see that as a threat to their way of life.
  • Give Him a Normal Life: In a flashback her mother is shown dropping the infant Elvira off at a convent to protect her from the convoluted magical politics in their family. This was less than successful, in the end. Elvira is many things, but normal? Not so much.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Patty, who also suffers from A-Cup Angst.
  • Grew a Spine: After the Fallwell townsfolk apologize to Elvira, Mrs. Meeker goes to protest and her son Leslie stands up to her, telling her to shut up and calls her "an old hag" in retaliation.
  • Groin Attack: Elvira does this to a real estate broker who gets too grabby for his own good!
  • Hate Sink: While Talbot is the Big Bad, the city council are just such uptight, small-minded assholes, that they are a lot more detestable than Talbot himself.
  • Helping Hands: The teens of Falwell who help the voluptuous vamp rebuild her house.
  • Homage: To the Roger Corman B-movies of the 50s, 60s and 70s. They even went to Corman's old company, New World Pictures, so they could use footage from some of the movies they had. Elvira even says to Bob at one point "Haven't you ever seen any old Roger Corman movies?" when he express confusion over a familiar.
  • Hypocrite: Mrs. Meeker scolds Robin for doing things she think is unethical, like wearing make-up, yet she smokes cigarettes which is considered unethical.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After Mr. Cobb calls Elvira a "floozy", Chastity Pariah has this to say:
    Chastity: Please, I don't think we need to resort to name calling. I think what Calvin is trying to say is that this Elvira is a person of easy virtue, a purveyor of pulchritude, a one-woman Sodom and Gomorrah, if you will. A slimy, slithering succubus, a concubine, a street walker, a tramp, a slut, a cheap whore!
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Inverted when Patty confronts Elvira:
    Patty: Seems to me it's all this cheap little tart's fault.
    Elvira: Cheap? Who are you callin' cheap? What's that perfume you're wearing, Catch of the Day?
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Calling Elvira nice would be a pretty big stretch, as she's often sarcastic and crude. She's still basically a good person, though.
  • "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal: When Robin's grandmother sees that she is wearing makeup and chastises her for it. Robin tells her that all the other girls at school wear makeup. Mrs. Meeker then retorts to her granddaughter "if all the other girls at school jumped off a cliff, would [Robin] jump off a cliff?".
  • Knight of Cerebus: Downplayed with Uncle Vinnie, who's The Comically Serious and doesn't show much in the way of a sense of humor, and he nearly gets Elvira burned alive, thus posing the most serious threat. But once he acquires the book, he uses his magic to transform the leaders of the town Moral Guardians into pigs.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Happens twice to the Morality Club, the first when Elvira tries to give to them the concocted casserole, it was meant to turn into a monster. Instead, makes them all really horny and start spontaneously taking their clothes off. Later, near the end, the leaders of the Morality Club go up to Talbot and say they are still on his side. He decides he doesn't need them anymore and turns them into pigs (which is implied to be permanent as we never see them again after). As pigs are often associated with dirtiness, this seems like an especially fitting fate for them.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: When Elvira tells Bob that she feels "flat busted". He gives her a confused look so she tells him she meant that she's "broke".
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: After ogling Bob, Elvira asks Robin and Randy if it's past their bedtimes. Randy says he doesn't have a bedtime but Robin immediately gets the picture and elbows Randy so that they could leave and let Elvira and Bob get more acquainted together.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: During her hosting of a B-horror film in the opening of the film:
    The girl who put the "boob" back in the "boob tube!"
    The gal with the enormous... er, ratings!
  • Lethal Chef: Elvira mistakes the spellbook for a cookbook, and when she tries to make the "Abraca Casserole", it turns into an Alien-esque monster that (unsuccessfully) tries to eat Bob... and snaps at Elvira.
  • Loss of Inhibitions: One of the side effects of Elvira's potluck casserole, apart from being nauseated at first, is the food's magic to make the uptight townspeople of Fallwell feel warm, aroused, start taking their clothes off and engaging in hedonistic behavior.
  • Lover Tug of War: Bob in the middle between Elvira and Patty.
  • Malaproper: Chasity Pariah calls Elvira a "Purveyor of pulchritude". "Pulchritude" just means "beauty". From the context, she seems to think it means something like "lechery"
  • Mama's Boy: The hotel manager, Leslie Meeker; Mrs. Meeker, the older woman smoking a cigarette at the hotel desk is actually his elderly mother.
  • Manipulative Bitch: As Elvira looks around to apply for a job, Chastity Pariah and Mrs. Meeker immediately go straight to the telephone to call everyone in Fallwell and spread lies about Elvira and do everything they can to turn everyone in Fallwell against Elvira so that way she wouldn't be able to get a job anywhere in Fallwell.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Chastity Pariah the Moral Guardian.
    • Leslie Meeker, the milquetoast hotel manager with a domineering, shrewish mother.
  • Moral Guardians: Chastity Pariah and the town council.
  • MST: Elvira and Bob play Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! for the kids one night at the theater, with Elvira lounging on a couch in front of the screen while riffing on the film live.
  • Mushroom Samba: Everyone who ate Elvira's casserole at the potluck got very aroused, wild, lost their inhibitions and was arrested for indecent exposure.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: Elvira's outfit has the iconic plunging neckline that she's famous for.
  • Never My Fault: Once sober, Chasity and the rest of the townspeople start to verbally attack one another and pin the blame on the other for their uninhibited acts at the potluck.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • We never see what the hitch-hiking axe murderer tried to do to Elvira before he left the car...
    • Plenty at the potluck as a result of the Fallwell townspeople eating Elvira's casserole. We don't see what went down but once arrested and sober in the courtroom and city hall, the townspeople are visibly and audibly in guilt and shame.
  • Not What It Looks Like: When Elvira's taking the extra "E" down from the word "Matinee", she accidentally covers up the lower part of the "E" with her hand, which makes it look like an "F", and when she tries to hold it into place next to the "-uck" in "How to -uck", Chastity Pariah is shocked when she mistakes it for something else.
  • Parental Abandonment: Elvira was left at a convent by her mother as a baby so she could have a normal life, unlike her (it didn't work). What became of her isn't said. Elvira's father meanwhile is not mentioned at all.
  • Pet's Homage Name: This trope is used as one of many small gauges of Elvira's average smarts. Part of Elvira's Unexpected Inheritance is a poodle. Her great aunt, a powerful, savvy witch, named him Algonquin after the American Indian tribe. Elvira is much more Earthy and neither dumb or brainy, so she shortens his name to Gonk.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: A subtle example: at the Morality Club meeting one of the members talks about how Elvira had half the teenagers in town "writhing around to that jungle music". Said song is "Shout" by The Isley Brothers...
  • Racist Grandma: Mrs. Meeker is Implied to be this as she is not only enraged and horrified that her granddaughter Robin was associated with the exotic and attractive Elvira whom she judges based on her exposed attire but also voices her disgust at Elvira and the Fallwell teenagers dancing around to "Shout" by The Isley Brothers which Mrs. Meeker calls "jungle music".
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: Chastity Pariah and the other townspeople hate the newcomer Elvira shame her for her appearance and personality. Once under the influence of the potluck casserole Elvira made to spite them, they all lose their inhibitions and engage in questionable sex acts. At once, a dazed Chastity calls herself "a horndog" and then sits on another person's face. Once jailed and sobered up, Chastity and everyone vehemently deny any part of their sexual inhibitions and blame each other. And then thet pin all the blame on Elvira instead once she is exposed as a witch.
  • Shameful Strip: Elvira rips Patty's top off when she punches her — and exposes Patty as being flat-chested as a board to the entire town.
  • She's Got Legs: Some camera shots focus on Elvira's legs. From her dance performance reminiscent of Flashdance to Robin eyeing Elvira from the legs up when she first meets her.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Elvira's driving along the highways, one of the signs reads "Now Leaving Kansas: The Land of Ah's"; Cassandra Peterson (who plays Elvira) is from Manhattan, Kansas.
    • Elvira goes all Rambo against the antagonist with a rocket launcher during the climax.
    • ... let's not forget the Flashdance parody sequence.
    • During her B-horror film hosting segment, Elvira jokes that the extraterrestrial monster in the B-horror film "looked like Gumby on steroids!".
  • Signing Off Catchphrase: "So, until next time... unpleasant dreams!".
  • Small Town Boredom: Falwell is a pretty dull town, the only hub of social life is a bowling alley and the sole movie theater only shows G-rated films. Elvira's arrival shakes things around in their boring dull small town status quo, and the local teens quickly grow fond of her because she brings entertainment to their boring lives.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • "Town Without Pity" plays over the scene where Elvira looks around to apply for a job and is rejected by many of the Fallwell townsfolk, courtesy of Chastity Pariah and Leslie's mother turning the townsfolk against Elvira.
    • "I Put A Spell On You" plays over the potluck scene as the Fallwell townspeople start to fall under the effects of Elvira's potluck casserole and become aroused.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Fallwell seems like a nice town at first, but most of the inhabitants are pretty big jerks who are mean to Elvira just because she doesn't "fit in"
  • Stock Footage: It Conquered the World and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! come to mind.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Elvira accidentally blows up a gas station on her way to Falwell.
  • Tar and Feathers: Elvira is tarred and feathered in a spoof of the movie Flashdance.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    "Sure, I'll do it for 50 bucks!"
    "Well, here's to my big opening. I mean..."
  • Transformation Sequence: Gonk transforms itself from a punker poodle to a rat (and then a pit bull!) to chew through the ropes that had Bob Bound and Gagged.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: The trope is applied twice. First, when Elvira got an inheritance from her Grand-Aunt, whose existence Elvira was completely oblivious to; and Second, when she inherited her Grand-Uncle's fortune. She had all reasons not to expect anything from him but, since she was his next of kin, and he never bothered with making a will, she inherited it all.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The license plate on Elvira's automobile reads KICKASS
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When a gas station she was just at massively explodes early in the film, she just briefly glances back and reacts like it's an everyday occurrence.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The film is very lighthearted and deliberately cheesy, while Talbot is a sister murdering Evil Sorcerer who tried to kill Elvira as baby and almost gets her burned at the stake.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Vincent transforms Chastity Pariah, Harold Glotter, and Calvin Cobb into pigs and we're never shown what exactly happens to them following Vincent's defeat.
  • What's a Henway?: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is a Hurricane of Puns, but one of the most memorable is after the titular character has gotten hit on the head with a falling movie marquee letter:
    Bob: "How's your head?"
    Elvira: "Well, I've never had any complaints..."
  • Younger than They Look: Robin's father Leslie, a middle aged man, looked to be closer in age to the equally middle-aged Mrs. Meeker but he is actually her son.

Alternative Title(s): Elvira Mistress Of The Dark