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Elvira in her sleek and skin tight black dresses that are cut low in the chest and slit high in the leg and her iconic jet black bee-hive hairdo has captivated horror audiences since the 80s. A late night hostess with the mostess!
Elvira has introduced a whole range of veiwers to the cheesy and corny side of horror and in return has become synonymus with B grade horror films. But she is not a B grade character by any means proved by the fact that the Elvira franchise continues to run strong as horror fans find they need a little humor in their horror every so often.
Here are 5 interesting and prehaps unknown facts about Elvira and Movie Macabre for you to enjoy.
5. Who is Elvira?
An american actress named Cassandra Peterson plays the role of Elvira. Cassandra was born September 17, 1951 in Manhattan, Kansas. She grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado but soon after graduating high school drove to Las Vegas, Nevada where she became a showgirl.
She also began acting, small roles through the 70's and even moving to Italy to become the lead singer of a rock band. In 1979, back in the U.S she joined a comedy improve group called the The Groundlings where she developed her "valley girl" personna which would later end up being the basis for Elvira's personality.
A chance audition in 1981 led to a career and life changing role from which Cassandra would never look back and never regret.
Image - Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira Mistress of the Dark
4. The Creation of Elvira
Elvira was concieved in 1981 when a local Los Angeles horror program needed to find a replacement host. The producers first asked Maila Nurmi to revive Vampira but creative differences led the plan to fail. Still wanting a female host they held auditions and Cassandra beat out 200 other contestants.
An original idea to look ghost like was shot down by producers leading to the creation of the super sexy goth punk with a valley girl attitude named Elvira. The image sparked an eventual lawsuit with Maila Nurmi who claimed the likeness was stolen from Vampira, this suit was ruled in favor of Cassandra.
When the dust finally settled and filming got underway Movie Macabre was born. Leading us to number 3 on our list.
Image - Elvira on red couch Purchase print
Cassandra talks about Elvira
3. Movie Macabre and 'B' Movie Heaven
A late night horror movie shown with host Elvira adding witty comments before and after commercial breaks was the premise. The movies were always B grade (or lower) providing ample fuel for Elvira and ample veiwing pleasure for campy and cheesy horror fans.
The set was basic involving a red Victorian couch on which Elvira would be posed in the most sexy of ways. A few candlestick holders and a black backdrop were the only things Elvira needed to captivate her late night audiences.
The program aired 140 movies during it's run from 1981 to 1984 and was breifly revived in 2010 showing only movies in the public domain. A small number have been release to DVD by Shout! Factory.
Image - The opening scene of Movie Macabre
2. The Elvira Franchise
Elvira's likeness has been used to market a number of products and creations some of which are owned by others but the vast majority of them are the property of Cassandra herself. Nearly all manor of dolls, comics and costumes have been created in her image and have had tremendous success.
Some of the most interesting are.
- Beer - 1996 (Elvira's Night Brew)
- Wine - 2011 (Elvira's Mcabrenet)
- Haunted Houses - 1997
- Perfume - 1990 (Evil)
- BC Rich Warlock Guitars - 2001
Elvira also has a range of video games and a couple of pinball machines, notably Scared Stiff, in her merchandise empire.
Image - One of the products endorsed by Elvira
1. Movies Starring the Mistress
Although Elvira has made many appearances in movies and on tv through the years she has only appeared in two actually Elvira movies.
The first Elvira, Mistress of the Dark was released in 1988 and was co-written by Cassandra. The film was a finicial failure according to box office reports and was not well received by critics. It earned Cassandra a nomination for worst actress at the The Golden Raspberry Awards.
The second film to star Elvira, Elvira's Haunted Hills, was released in 2001 and was again co-written by Cassandra. This time the film was much better received by both fans and critics earning best feature audience award at the Provincetown International Film Festival. This film was dedicated to Vincent Price.
Image - Mistress of the Dark movie poster Purchase Print
Are you a fan of 'B' horror films?
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