Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)

PG-13 | 96 mins | Comedy, Horror | 30 September 1988

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HISTORY

Before opening credits, scenes from the film It Conquered the World (1956, see entry) are seen on the television program hosted by “Elvira.” During the film, scenes from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1979, see entry) are shown on the screen of the local movie theater.
       The following dedication is presented before end credits: “In Loving Memory of Robert Allen Redding.” End credits state: “Filmed at Burbank Studiosdios -- Burbank, California & Raleigh Studios -- Hollywood, California.” End credits also state: “Special Thanks to the NBC Productions Staff,” and, "'Elvira' and 'Mistress of the Dark' are the trademarks of Queen 'B' Productions."
       Although an 11 Aug 1987 HR production chart stated that principal photography was set to begin in Oct 1987 under the working title Elvira -- The B Movie, an 8 Dec 1987 HR production chart and 21 Dec 1987 DV news brief reported a start date of 18 Jan 1988. However, the 26 Jan 1988 HR production chart and production notes in AMPAS library files stated that principal photography actually began on 20 Jan 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. Portions of the picture were shot in the following locations: Agua Dulce, CA; the Montrose Lanes bowling alley in Montrose, CA; the Mayfair Theater in Santa Monica, CA; and the Burbank Studios in Burbank, CA. A 20 Mar 1988 LAT article noted that production lasted approximately forty-two days. The LAT also reported the film’s budget as $7.5 million, while an article in the 21 Mar 1988 DV listed ... More Less

Before opening credits, scenes from the film It Conquered the World (1956, see entry) are seen on the television program hosted by “Elvira.” During the film, scenes from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1979, see entry) are shown on the screen of the local movie theater.
       The following dedication is presented before end credits: “In Loving Memory of Robert Allen Redding.” End credits state: “Filmed at Burbank Studiosdios -- Burbank, California & Raleigh Studios -- Hollywood, California.” End credits also state: “Special Thanks to the NBC Productions Staff,” and, "'Elvira' and 'Mistress of the Dark' are the trademarks of Queen 'B' Productions."
       Although an 11 Aug 1987 HR production chart stated that principal photography was set to begin in Oct 1987 under the working title Elvira -- The B Movie, an 8 Dec 1987 HR production chart and 21 Dec 1987 DV news brief reported a start date of 18 Jan 1988. However, the 26 Jan 1988 HR production chart and production notes in AMPAS library files stated that principal photography actually began on 20 Jan 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. Portions of the picture were shot in the following locations: Agua Dulce, CA; the Montrose Lanes bowling alley in Montrose, CA; the Mayfair Theater in Santa Monica, CA; and the Burbank Studios in Burbank, CA. A 20 Mar 1988 LAT article noted that production lasted approximately forty-two days. The LAT also reported the film’s budget as $7.5 million, while an article in the 21 Mar 1988 DV listed a $7 million budget. Articles in 5 Aug 1988 DV and 24 Aug 1988 Var reported the picture’s budget under $8 million.
       A 3 Feb 1988 HR brief reported a tentative release for Aug 1988. An advertisement in 23 Sep 1988 LA Weekly listed a “Special Sneak Preview” on 24 Sep 1988, referring to the film as Elvira®, Mistress of the Dark™, in Los Angeles. A preview screening in New York City was as reported by the 29 Sep 1988 HR, followed by an “Elvira-ized” event at Central Park’s Loeb Boathouse. The picture went into general release on 30 Sep 1988. A news brief in the Jan 1989 Life reported the film earned $7 million during its first six weeks of release.
       A news item in the 1 Feb 1988 DV reported that musician Todd Rundgren had been selected to compose the film’s score, although he is not credited onscreen.
       Contemporary sources stated that Cassandra Peterson created the character “Elvira” in 1981 for Los Angeles television station KHJ-TV as hostess on Movie Macabre, a weekly horror film showcase. The 20 Mar 1988 LAT reported that Peterson’s company, Queen “B” Productions, owned the rights to “Elvira” by 1984.
       Articles in the 11 Feb 1988 HR and 20 Mar 1988 LAT reported that the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) television executive Brandon Tartikoff had previously been interested in developing a situation comedy featuring “Elvira” for NBC. A 30 Sep 1988 LAT review and the 5 Aug 1988 DV reported the film as the first feature theatrical motion picture from NBC Productions. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
21 Dec 1987
p. 11.
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1988
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Feb 1988
p. 34.
Daily Variety
21 Mar 1988
p. 22, 30.
Daily Variety
5 Aug 1988
p. 15.
Daily Variety
26 Sep 1988
p. 3, 12.
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1988
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 May 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Sep 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 1988
p. 2, 17.
LA Weekly
23 Sep 1988
Section C, p. 6.
LAHExam
26 Aug 1987.
---
Life
Jan 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Mar 1988
Section L, p. 5, 28-30.
Los Angeles Times
30 Sep 1988
p. 12.
New York Times
30 Sep 1988
p. 12.
Variety
24 Aug 1988
p. 18.
Variety
28 Sep 1988
p. 17, 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
New World Pictures and
NBC Productions Present
Produced In Association With Queen "B" Productions
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, Game show/Las Vegas unit
1st asst dir, Game show/Las Vegas unit
2d asst dir, Game show/Las Vegas unit
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Supv prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Wrt
&
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog & Las Vegas/Game show
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Key grip
Key grip
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Dolly grip
Chief lighting tech
Chief lighting tech
Asst lighting tech
Asst lighting tech
Cam op, Game show/Las Vegas unit
1st asst cam, Game show/Las Vegas unit
1st asst cam, Game show/Las Vegas unit
2d asst cam, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Still photog, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Key grip, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Chief lighting tech, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Ultracam cam, lenses and equip provided by
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Art dept asst
Concept sketches
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set des
Const coord
Standby painter
Greensman
Las Vegas/Game show set des by, Game show/Las Vega
Prop master, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Set dresser
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
Cost for Las Vegas seq des by, Game show/Las Vegas
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus clearances by
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable person
Sd mixer, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Sd mixer, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Boom op, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Boom op, Game show/Las Vegas unit
ADR group coord
Re-rec facility
Re-rec mixer, Buena Vista Sound Studios
Re-rec mixer, Buena Vista Sound Studios
Re-rec mixer, Buena Vista Sound Studios
Post prod sd ed
Supv, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Sd des, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Asst sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Asst sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Asst sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Apprentice sd ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Supv ADR ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
ADR ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Foley ed, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Foleystepper, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Foleystepper, Sync-Pop, Inc.
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Asst spec eff
Asst spec eff
Spec makeup eff and the pot monster
Spec eff supv, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Visual eff supv
Visual eff prod
Opt eff supv
Opt lineup
Opt cam
Opticals by
Main title des
DANCE
"Maniac" choreog
Choreog for the Las Vegas number by, Game show/Las
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Key hairstylist
Spec Vincent makeup
Addl makeup
Spec makeup eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Casting secy
Extra casting coord
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Craft service
Animal trainer
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Asst to Mr. Signorelli
Asst to Mr. Signorelli
Asst to Mr. Rachmil
Asst to Mr. Gardner
Asst to Mr. Pierson
Asst to Mr. Thurm
Asst to Ms. Peterson
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Scr supv, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Prod coord, Game show/Las Vegas unit
Post prod supv
Public relations
Public relations
Pub coord for Queen "B" Productions
Exec in charge of prod
Transportation capt
Animals
Animals
Caterer
Helper
STAND INS
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
ANIMATION
Anim supv
Anim asst
Anim asst
Anim asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
MUSIC
“New World Symphony,” written by Anton Dvorak, performed by Pro Musica Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hans-Jurgen Walther.
SONGS
“I Put A Spell On You,” written by Jay Hawkins, performed by Joanna St. Claire
“Tuesday’s Come And Gone,” written by Ron McGowan and Edwina Travis-Chin, performed by Pamela Miller
“Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” written by Lori Chacko and Joey Balin, performed by Lori Chacko, courtesy of Polygram Special Projects, a division of Polygram Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
“I Put A Spell On You,” written by Jay Hawkins, performed by Joanna St. Claire
“Tuesday’s Come And Gone,” written by Ron McGowan and Edwina Travis-Chin, performed by Pamela Miller
“Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” written by Lori Chacko and Joey Balin, performed by Lori Chacko, courtesy of Polygram Special Projects, a division of Polygram Records, Inc.
“Town Without Pity,” written by Dmitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, performed by Jess Harnell
“Maniac,” written by Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky, performed by Rick Cershaw
“Here I Am,” written by Gary Poirot and John Paragon, performed by Elvira
“Shout,” written by O’Kelley Isley, Ronald Isley and Rudolph Isley, performed by Larry Wright
“Chicken Fried Steak,” written and performed by Gary Austin
“Weeping Like A Willow,” written by Dan Slider
“Elvira’s Theme,” written by Mark Whitney Pierson.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Elvira, the "B" Movie
Elvira -- The B Movie
Elvira®, Mistress of the Dark™
Release Date:
30 September 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 30 September 1988
Production Date:
20 January--mid March 1988 in Los Angeles
Copyright Claimant:
National Broadcasting Company, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 November 1988
Copyright Number:
PA389785
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At television station KSFB in California, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, a ghoulish hostess of horror movies, is introduced to new station owner, Earl Hooter. Enamored by the plunging neckline of Elvira’s dress, Hooter attempts to flirt with her. When she expresses disinterest, Hooter lunges at her. Offended, Elvira pushes him away and quits. In her dressing room, Elvira’s agent, Manny, tells her the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, will not produce her stage show unless she raises $50,000. Just then, she receives a telegram that her great aunt Morgana Talbot has died, and Elvira is required to attend the reading of her aunt’s will in the small town of Fallwell, Massachusetts. After arriving in Fallwall, Elvira’s car breaks down. She walks to The Cozy Cot, a nearby motel, to rent a room. Upon seeing Elvira, the motel’s owner, Mrs. Meeker, tells her the motel is full. However, Mrs. Meeker’s husband, Leslie, states one room available. Mrs. Meeker instructs her granddaughter, Robin, to show Elvira the room. While helping Elvira with her luggage, Robin tells her the only fun place in town is the bowling alley, Patti’s Tidy Bowl Lanes. That evening, Elvira arrives at the bowling alley bar. Patrons Travis and Billy sit at her table and flirt with her. Annoyed by their advances, Elvira pours beers onto their laps. Humiliated, the men prepare to attack her. However, Bob Redding, owner of the town’s movie theater, punches them. The bowling alley owner, Patty, blames Elvira for the fight, but Bob offers to pay for any damages. The next day ... +


At television station KSFB in California, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, a ghoulish hostess of horror movies, is introduced to new station owner, Earl Hooter. Enamored by the plunging neckline of Elvira’s dress, Hooter attempts to flirt with her. When she expresses disinterest, Hooter lunges at her. Offended, Elvira pushes him away and quits. In her dressing room, Elvira’s agent, Manny, tells her the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, will not produce her stage show unless she raises $50,000. Just then, she receives a telegram that her great aunt Morgana Talbot has died, and Elvira is required to attend the reading of her aunt’s will in the small town of Fallwell, Massachusetts. After arriving in Fallwall, Elvira’s car breaks down. She walks to The Cozy Cot, a nearby motel, to rent a room. Upon seeing Elvira, the motel’s owner, Mrs. Meeker, tells her the motel is full. However, Mrs. Meeker’s husband, Leslie, states one room available. Mrs. Meeker instructs her granddaughter, Robin, to show Elvira the room. While helping Elvira with her luggage, Robin tells her the only fun place in town is the bowling alley, Patti’s Tidy Bowl Lanes. That evening, Elvira arrives at the bowling alley bar. Patrons Travis and Billy sit at her table and flirt with her. Annoyed by their advances, Elvira pours beers onto their laps. Humiliated, the men prepare to attack her. However, Bob Redding, owner of the town’s movie theater, punches them. The bowling alley owner, Patty, blames Elvira for the fight, but Bob offers to pay for any damages. The next day at the law office of Mr. Q. Bigelow, Elvira meets Vincent Talbot, her great aunt’s brother. Elvira is to inherit Morgana’s house, her poodle, Algonquin, and a book of recipes, while Vincent inherits nothing. He becomes upset, and wants the book of recipes for the magic spells it contains. As Elvira walks back to her motel, Vincent’s car pulls up and he offers to purchase the book for fifty dollars. Elvira agrees and tells him to meet her later at Morgana’s home. That afternoon, Mr. Bigelow drives Elvira to Morgana’s dilapidated mansion. Inside, he introduces her to Algonquin, a white poodle, and shows her the book. Throwing the book aside, Elvira asks how much the house is worth. Bigelow estimates $70,000. After he leaves, Elvira gives Algonquin a makeover, styling his fur into a black and purple mohawk and renaming him “Gonk.” When Vincent arrives, she is unable to locate the book. He becomes angry and leaves. That night, after Elvira is settled in, three local teenage boys, Bo, Randy, and Sean, spy on Elvira from her window, hoping to see her undress. When she discovers them, they fall onto the ground. Later, Elvira dreams that her great aunt Morgana is calling her from a secret room in the house. The next morning, Bo, Randy, and Sean return and offer to help Elvira repair the mansion. Throughout the day, more teenagers show up, including Robin Meeker, the motel owners’ granddaughter. By the end of the day, the exterior of the house is painted with a multitude of bright colors, which Elvira loves. Elsewhere, Mrs. Meeker tells her fellow town council members about Elvira and the ruckus she is causing. High school principal Calvin Cobb agrees, and threatens to expel any student seen with Elvira. Chairperson Chastity Pariah vows to run Elvira out of town. In the evening, Manny calls Elvira to ask about the money for her Las Vegas show. She tells Manny she does not have it, but he tells her she will soon need to come up with it. The next day, Elvira goes job hunting. However, Chastity Pariah and Mrs. Meeker call everyone in town and instruct them not to hire her. Meanwhile, Vincent’s hired henchmen, Travis and Billy, break into Elvira’s house looking for Morgana’s book, but are unable to find it. Afterwards, Vincent orders them to bring him the town’s ordinances. After they leave, Vincent enters a secret room with an altar and recites an incantation. Once he gains the power of the book in time for next week’s lunar eclipse, he will become an all-powerful warlock. Later, Elvira sees Bob Redding in front of his movie theater. He says he would hire her if he could afford to do so. She thanks him, but tells him that if he showed bad horror movies like the ones she hosted on television, his theater would make money. Bob likes the idea. Elvira goes to the bowling alley to tell the teenagers about the film screening that night. However, Robin Meeker explains that Mr. Cobb threatened them with expulsion if they are seen with her. As Elvira pretends to cry, the teenagers agree to attend the movie for her. That night, Bob and Elvira set up for the film event by positioning a bucket in the rafters to pour glitter on Elvira for the finale. Patty, owner of the town bowling alley, becomes jealous because of Bob liking Elvira, sneaks backstage and fills the bucket with tar. After the movie is over, Elvira performs a dance routine, mimicking one in the film Flashdance. When she pulls the cord attached to the bucket, tar drops onto her, as Patty dumps feathers. After Elvira cleans up, she spends time alone with Bob at her house. When she sits on the couch, she finds the recipe book and offers to cook. In the kitchen, Elvira prepares a spell, believing it is a food recipe. When she brings the pot into the dinning room, a lizard creature jumps out. Bob and Elvira carry the pot into the kitchen and toss the creature down the garbage disposal. Afterward, Gonk goes upstairs with the book in his mouth. Bob and Elvira follow him into the secret room she dreamed about. Opening a trunk, Bob finds a letter addressed to Elvira from Morgana. The letter reveals that Vincent wants the book of spells, which once belonged to Elvira’s mother. It is up to Elvira and her red ring of power to protect it. The next day, the Fallwell Morality Club holds a picnic in the park. Elvira sneaks to the buffet, places a pot with the monster recipe on the table, and hides nearby with Bob. Chastity Parrish takes the lid off, but nothing attacks her. Elvira confesses that she used Hamburger Helper as a substitute ingredient, and the spell may not work. The picnickers take heaping helpings. As they eat, they strip to their underwear, and act with wild abandonment. Later, at a council meeting, Vincent produces the town charter’s law against witchcraft, and suggests arresting Elvira. That evening, Elvira is locked in jail with Gonk. When Bob arrives to check on her, she tells him to find the recipe book. As the townspeople prepare to burn Elvira at the stake, Gonk magically turns into a mouse and escapes from the cell. Bob finds the book, but Vincent hits him over the head and steals it. The mouse-like Gonk enters the house and finds Bob tied up. After nibbling at the ropes, Gonk transforms into a Rottweiler. As Elvira is led outside, Robin, Bo, Randy, and Sean fall through the jailhouse roof into an adjoining cell in a failed attempt to save her. At the stake, Patty lights the fire that surrounds Elvira. Bob arrives and tries to stop the flames. Elvira remembers Morgana’s letter and her ring’s power. With the ring, she invokes a rain storm, quenching the flames and causing the townspeople to flee. As Bob unties her, Elvira kisses him. Vincent appears as the lunar eclipse begins. He attacks Elvira with magic, but she counterattacks. However, the ring flies off her finger onto Vincent’s. Frightened, Elvira runs away to the town cemetery. When Vincent finds her, she throws her stiletto-heeled shoe into his forehead and runs for the house. Inside, Vincent grabs Elvira’s neck with his ringed hand. She chops off his hand, and as he sets the house on fire, Elvira grabs the ring and vanquishes him. She escapes before the fire destroys the house and spells book. The next morning, Bob, Elvira and Gonk sit on the front porch of the damaged house. Suddenly, the town folk appear and apologize. Mr. Bigelow announces that she has now also inherited her great uncle Vincent’s estate. With her new inheritance, Elvira pays for and performs in her own show in Las Vegas. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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