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Video Game / Elvira

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CAUTION: Contains blood-curdling graphics

A series of point and click/role playing computer games based loosely around the Cassandra Peterson character Elvira. In 1990, HorrorSoft Games released the first installment, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. The game was surprisingly well received by critics and adventure/horror fans, and in 1991 the follow-up, Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus was released to even better reviews than the original. Both games are now available on

In addition to being surprisingly good, the games were also known for being ridiculously challenging and ridiculously frightening, while maintaining a dark, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Not surprisingly, the majority of laughs came from Elvira's comments.

An almost identical IP from the same company, Waxworks (1992), was released in 1992.

Tropes within Elvira I:

  • Bald of Evil: The captain of the guard, an unpleasant guy with a bald head you have to fight later on.
  • The Chew Toy: If you are a gore fan, the protagonists, as you can let them die in a lot of gruesome ways.
  • Death by Materialism: Take two things, the dagger and the scroll from the chest, and a monster will come out of it and kill you.
  • Death Cry Echo: Enemies let out a "ugaaaah" when killed.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Hinted at. One of the items you find in the captain of the guard's office is a letter from his mother enquiring if he enjoyed the apple pie she sent him.
  • Eye Scream: You can die with your eyes torn out by a hawk, you can get them fried, you can get one of them burned by acid...
  • Feathered Fiend: A man shows up who sics his hawk at you, which will rip your eyes out with its talons unless it's successfully shot with a crossbow.
  • Gorn: Scenes from both games include things like blood on walls, limbs cut in half, severed heads, exploding heads, piranhas eating your arm to he bone, maggots feasting on a dead man's ripped throat, and that excludes the death scenes...
  • Holy Burns Evil: Downplayed, in the sense that having a crucifix on yourself won't harm vampires, only prevent them from attacking you (and even then, it doesn't work on the vampire from the coffin).
  • Improbable Weapon User: One creature uses a skull attached to its hand to bite you.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: In the first game you can only carry so much weight before you start losing strength with every step, and some items have other items inside of them. The sequel takes this a step further, as items will be damaged or destroyed under certain circumstances (like being struck by fire, falling into a trap or going underwater). This obviously includes one-of-a-kind items you need to beat the game, if you haven't wasted them on preparing a non-essential spell before. A cautious player will know to leave items in rooms where they can pick them up only when they're needed.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Boy howdy. The games seemed to take a sadistic pleasure in showing the player gruesome death screens depending on how they were killed.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: Elvira sports the deep plunging neckline she's famous for.
  • Nintendo Hard: For starters, strategy guides straight up recommend reloading if you get hit once, because healing items are that rare.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: There is a hairy man standing in your way to a key, who will beg you for a Mercy Kill, before he turns into a wolf that will eat your neck if you don't kill him with a silver tipped crossbow bolt.
  • Palette Swap: The purple guard, who fights like the red guard but is tougher.
  • Possession Implies Mastery: Zig-zagged. You can arm yourself with a crossbow, but you'll always miss the target. However, after managing to hit the bullseye of a practice target with only four shots, you'll be called a "master bowman" and become able to use it.
  • Potion-Brewing Mechanic: You can create magical potions by combining various ingredients you found. For example, consuming Herbal Honey gives you knowledge of the true names of all plants and eating Alphabet Soup gave you knowledge of Runes.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Even if you do avoid the many, many pitfalls, you might still lose something vital in a fireball trap.
  • Vampire Hickey: If the player is bit by the vampire woman, there will be two holes in the neck on the death screen.
  • Wooden Stake: You have to use a wooden stake on a vampire woman.

Tropes within Elvira II:

  • Absurdly Low Level Cap: The max level is 10. You'll need to reach it for some spells and it's relatively achievable by mid-to-late game.
  • Antagonist Title: Cerberus is the evil hound you have to kill at the end and is mentioned in the title.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: A wizard can turn you into a frog, which is one of the few goreless "deaths".
  • Character Class System: The game lets you choose from four professions:
    • Stuntman, who dishes out the most damage, but has low intelligence, magic resistance and, ironically enough, accuracy;
    • Private Eye, the resident Jack of All Stats;
    • Computer Programmer, this game's Squishy Wizard;
    • Knife Thrower, who has the highest accuracy and hitpoints at the cost of poison resistance.
  • Copy Protection: Opening doors in the office requires the use of a code wheel that comes with the game and a code that's based on a symbol and three words on it.
  • Dem Bones: Skeleton warriors show up in armor, ready to cut your head off.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Most of the game is spent exploring a huge dungeon.
  • Fan Disservice: At one point in the haunted house, you can join a lovely young woman in bed. Is it sexy? At the beginning, yes. At the end? HELL NO. There's a reason one YouTube comment referred to the woman as "Lamprey head"...
  • Genius Serum: There's an intelligence enhancement spell the player can cast on themselves. The in game effect is that any spells the player mixed while under the Brain Boost's influence are themselves rendered more potent or generated more charges to use. Brain Boost itself can only get the latter, preventing it from being enhanced.
  • Giant Spider: There's a gigantic black widow.
  • Guide Dang It!: You have limited resources to cast a wide array of spells, without many clues about how many casts of each ones you'll need to complete puzzles and evade traps. If you use up critical components for the wrong spells, the game becomes Unwinnable.
  • Hellhound: Cerberus itself appears from Hell, with three heads, each with one eye and sharp fangs.
  • Magic Floppy Disk: Quite literally. For the Brainboost spell, the ingredient is anything that stores information and you have a floppy disk for it.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Every single way to die comes with a different "game over" picture, depicting your frozen/cut-off/mangled/burned face.
  • Non-Combat EXP: You're granted experience for going into unexplored map squares and casting spells. Technically, you could get unlimited experience by repeatedly preparing and casting the few free spells (but you'd have to wait for your Power Points to regenerate, so it would take a long time.)
  • Our Banshees Are Louder: Two banshees, depicted as withered ugly women, are chained to the walls at the entrance to the dungeon level. Their wails damage you, so you need to kill them both quickly.
  • Perverse Puppet: If one of the books you find in the library of the Haunted House is any indication, all the monsters you fight through the game are animatronic puppets created by the studio´s crew that have become sentinent and turned evil, including Cerberus.
  • Piranha Problem: You can try taking the key from the aquarium in the office, but if you do, the piranhas inside will bite your hand off. And yes, it will stay bitten off. If you try it twice, you'll end up handless and unable to use any objects, making the game unwinnable.
  • Prolonged Video Game Sequel: The game boasts about having five times as many locations as the original, at a whopping 4,000. Though a huge chunk of that is used for an insect cave and a dungeon.
  • Regenerating Mana: Power points replenish themselves automatically over time, though very slowly.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: There are three places where Elvira may be hidden; no matter in what order you reach them, the first two Elviras will be fake and transform into monsters.
  • Spell Book: Elvira hands you her spellbook at the beginning of the game. It lists spells along with their P.P. cost, ingredients required, and effects.
  • Spikes of Doom: One of the traps leads down to a pit of spikes, resulting in death by impalement.
  • To Serve Man: The main course in the dining room - a woman's cut-off head which is still alive and some veggies.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: In Studio, there is a zombie that will appear in front of you if you walk in the wrong direction. Normally, you will faint and die from the sight, but this can be avoided, if the Courage spell has been activated, he will just stand there, then you can use the Turn Undead spell to get rid of him... or just stand there, which will lead to the zombie killing you by biting your neck. It even has a unique death scene!
  • Your Head Asplode: The witch you encounter early on goes down like this. Complete with her one eyeball flying toward the screen!

Alternative Title(s): Elvira Games