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'Elvira, Mistress of the Dark'

‘Elvira, Mistress of the Dark’

Feb. 8, 1988: Cassandra Peterson, as Elvira, is tied to a stake in a scene from her movie “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.”

This photo was published in the March 20, 1988, Los Angeles Times. Rick Sherwood reported:

You first notice her strawberry blond hair and relaxed manner. Cassandra Peterson looks comfortable in fading Levi’s, loose knit top and jean jacket and comfortable in her rather traditionally decorated home (meaning no special weirdness) in the Hollywood Hills.

In fact, she was easy to overlook in the confusion created by two barking Rottweilers and a handful of chattering people. She’s too natural, too unassuming, and, at 5 feet 7, much too small.

It’s hard to comprehend that this is Elvira, the slinky, usually sleazy vamp(ire) hostess who has turned bad movies into good television for the past seven years. And now she is trying to turn high camp into high finance with her own movie.

“Elvira: Mistress of the Dark,” from the theatrical arm of NBC Productions and her own Queen B Productions, is the first of what could unfold into a multifaceted future as a movie star, TV star, cartoon star and star of a bonanza of merchandise.

The ultimate earning power of the character begins with the handling of — and reception to — this first feature. In part, that’s why Queen B, run by co-managers Eric Gardner and husband Mark Pierson, decided to keep photographers away when she is just plain Cassandra, out of the Elvira costume and makeup.

“Believe it or not, lots of kids and people think it’s a real person,” she says in explanation. “They see me walking around like this, looking normal, and it kind of destroys the image.” …

“Elvira” the movie, which wrapped its 42-day shooting schedule around town last week, is being made for $7.5 million, a low figure by today’s standards.

But it’s quite costly, some might think, as a vehicle for a camp TV horror show hostess whose fame is based on a novelty program that originally cost a few hundred bucks to produce and highlighted some of the worst films ever made.

But you’ll get an argument from Brandon Tartikoff, the longtime TV executive under whose tutelage NBC Productions is making this film.

“This is not like ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ — let’s make it and get it out quick,” he said. “That would be a different film from the one we are making.”

The film they are making is a send-up of the kind of B movie Elvira has been hosting for years. It follows a down-on-her-luck TV horror show hostess from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (where Peterson once worked as a showgirl), then on to a small New England town to retrieve an inheritance from an elderly aunt. She winds up stuck in the town, and as a result of some mysterious powers that come with the inheritance the very moral townsfolk soon are convinced she is possessed. …

Sherwood’s full story is online: Horrors! It’s Elvira, Now Larger Than Life.

Oct. 21, 1985: Cassandra Peterson, right, as Elvira poses with her wax version twin at the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park. This photo was published in the Oct. 31, 1985 Los Angeles Times.

Oct. 21, 1985: Cassandra Peterson, right, as Elvira poses with her wax version twin at the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park. This photo was published in the Oct. 31, 1985, Los Angeles Times. Credit: Robert Lachman/Los Angeles Times.


  1. October 28, 2015, 2:18 pm

    Cassandra Peterson, always a classy lady and a class act. She invented herself as Elvira, but her personality is what makes her special.
    All of us hormonally driven teenaged boys from then will always love her and hope to meet her.

    By: tlk78
  2. October 29, 2015, 1:52 am

    Happy Halloween Elvira. My last Halloweens have been very frightning and well some what ghoulish of the horror. Maybe I will see what’s in my basket after a couple of beers without you Halloween is just well dull. You bring out the color in Halloween and when I was a kid I couldn’t get around the show it was a bit spooky but I learned later trick or treat! Its nice seeing you in Halloween well Happy Halloween all the way from Las Vegas my candles are melting I have to go bye Elvira.

    By: Max

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