AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Elvira Mistress of the Dark (1988) movie review

Posted in Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, movies with tags , , , , , , on October 4, 2019 by Paxton

Fangoria Movie Friday

So this week has been all about Elvira.  You’ve seen articles and centerfolds.  Elvira has permeated pop culture especially during the Halloween season.  She has popped up in many random movies as a fun cameo. But there have been two Elvira specific movies released and I have watched neither of them.  So I thought now would be a good time to do that.

Today, for my very first time, I’m taking a look at the first Elvira movie; Elvira Mistress of the Dark from 1988.

movie poster

I can’t believe I’ve never watched this movie. It’s fun, it’s campy. It’s the perfect Elvira movie. Mostly comedy, with some spooky genre elements added in. I had a lot of fun with it.

Let’s take a look at a few highlights from the movie.


Title cards.

on the TV show set
The show opens up with Elvira on the set of her late night TV show. It’s a low budget local station so naturally she wants to get out of there and go to Vegas to become a showgirl.

Anchorwoman
This is an anchorwoman at Elvira’s TV station waiting to go on after Elvira finishes her show. She’s not very nice. She’s played by Tress MacNeille. Tress is sort of a legend in voice over animation work. She does voice work for Simpsons, Futurama, Animaniacs, and SO MANY other shows. Check out her IMDB. It’s insane. But, funnily enough, Tress would voice the character Booberella on The Simpsons which was a parody of Elvira.

A lot of this movie is what actors pop up from other genre pictures.

teens
Here are a few of the teens Elvira befriends in the movie. On the far left, is Ira Heiden, who played Will in Nightmare on Elm Street 3.  To the right of Ira is Kris Kamm who’s been in a ton of TV like Quantum Leap, 21 Jump Street, and Coach.

Kenicky!
Hey, it’s Kenicky! From Grease!

villain!
Here’s the villain, Vincent. He plays this up pretty well. He’s appropriately evil and English.  This guy has also been in a bunch of genre stuff like Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country, the old Fox TV show Werewolf, the Max Headroom TV series, Needful Things and Michael Bay’s Transformers.

Apple Slice!
Edie McClurg! I love 80s movies for vintage product placement. We get a scene at a town picnic and in it we see a bunch of old soda cans like this Apple Slice as well as a few vintage Diet Pepsi cans.


Elvira finally gets to Vegas at the end and we get to see a whole overblown Vegas number. It’s campy but fun.

This was a fun movie to watch.  Yes, it was campy, but that’s Elvira’s whole shtick.  The movie was entertaining and I enjoyed it.  Glad I finally watched it.

So next week.  I had so much fun doing Elvira this week, that I think I’ll do it again.  So, expect to see another week of Elvira goodness.  I’ll look at more movie and TV appearances as well as a few other surprises.  Come back next week to see what I have in store.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Elvira Busts Out

Posted in Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, movies with tags , , , , , on October 3, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

In Fall 1988, Elvira was getting ready to release her first movie, Elvira Mistress of the Dark. And, of course, she got some coverage in the September 1988 issue of Fangoria (issue #77).

I’m honestly surprised she didn’t get a full cover for her first movie. She always had a great relationship with Fangoria.  But if you are going to get bumped, Freddy Krueger in a new movie is the news that’s going to bump you.  *Especially* in 1988.  And *especially* if the magazine has available to them a pic of Freddy with a baby arm coming out of his head for the cover.

This article is an interview with Cassandra Peterson about making the movie Elvira Mistress of the Dark.  She talks about having the longest bit of dialogue to do on the first day and that no one really explained to her how to play the character on the big screen.  Sometimes she was playing it too big, sometimes she played it too small.  It took several days to work it out and get comfortable.  She also makes sure to play up the humor in the movie.  She wants people to know it’s not a horror movie per se, it’s a comedy.  And she hopes that people understand that when they go see it.

It’s a pretty good article, but it always is with Cassandra Peterson.  She’s always funny.  Unfortunately for this movie, New World Pictures went bankrupt the day the movie was released and instead of opening on 2500 screens, it opened on 600 screens.  Even though it tanked at the box office, it has since picked up a big cult following on the home video market.

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I love Elvira and I have since the mid to late 80s. As you see, I bought her appearances in magazines, I loved it when she was the Coors Light “spookswoman”, and when she had bizarre cameos in movies like Stroker Ace.  We even covered her 1986 MTV Halloween Special on the Nerd Lunch 2017 Halloween Special.  But for some reason, I never got around to watching either of the Elvira movies.

So tomorrow, for Fangoria Movie Friday, I’m going to take a look at her first movie, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, from 1988.  Should be fun, I can’t wait.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: AKA Elvira

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine with tags , , , , on October 2, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

This week I’m looking at Elvira’s Fangoria appearances.  Yesterday I took a look at her debut in Fangoria #22.  Next up is an interview that was in Fangoria #45 from 1985 (below left). While Fango #45 was the original issue the interview appeared in, I know this interview best from one of the yearly compilation “Bloody Best of” issues. Specifically, Volume 5 from 1986. The cover for that is on the right.

The Bloody Best of Fangoria v5 (1986) - cover

Here’s the article.

This is an interview with Cassandra Peterson about being Elvira.  It’s been three years since Fangoria featured her in the last article.  It covers some of the ground the previous article covered.  Her moving to Vegas, becoming a showgirl, meeting Elvis who advised her to get singing lessons and get out of Vegas.  Her moving to Italy and becoming an actress.  Upon her return to the states she answered a casting call to be the new Vampira, a former horror host played by Maila Nurmi.  I discussed some of this in my first article this week about Maila Nurmi, who played Vampira.  As was stated in that previous article, negotiations for the Vampira name broke down with Ms Nurmi and instead of reviving the Vampira character Cassandra and the studio created a brand new character.  Elvira.

Not only is the breakdown with Nurmi mentioned, the interviewer actually asks Cassandra about the poem she wrote in to Fangoria that was published in the letters column about Nurmi in response to Nurmi’s less than favorable comments in issue #30.  Cassandra confirms that she did indeed write that poem, and then gives her version of the story.  That the station offered her money to lease the name.  She asked for ten times the amount.  The station couldn’t pay it so they went in a different direction.  Cassandra said she feels bad for her but Nurmi turned down guaranteed money and missed out on a revival of the character and now bad mouths Cassandra about it.

Of course, along with this interview, there was a pin-up. It’s one of my favorites and I brought it up on the last Fangoria AWESOME-tober-fest.  But I’m going to show it to you again, because it’s awesome.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Introducing Elvira!

Posted in Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine with tags , , , , on October 1, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

For this first week of AWESOME-tober-fest I want to talk about Fangoria.  Yesterday, I started off by talking about one of Elvira’s predecessors, Vampira.  Including a little controversy where the actress that played Vampira was not happy with Cassandra Peterson or her portrayal of Elvira. But with that cattiness aside, let’s move on to Elvira herself for the rest of the week!

I love Elvira, I have for years.  I still do, actually.  And she shows up in Fangoria A LOT. So let’s start off by taking a look back at her very first appearance, in Fangoria #22 from 1982.

This first article on Elvira, appropriately titled Introducing Elvira!, was the second in a series of “horror host” profiles where Fangoria was interviewing past and present TV “horror hosts”.  The first profile in the previous issue (Fango #21) was for horror host pioneer John Zacherle who hosted movies on Shock Theater in Philadelphia and New York in the 50s and 60s.  Here for the second article in the series, we are introduced to the new girl on the block, Elvira.

Intro Elvira! 1 Intro Elvira! 2

Like I said, this is from 1982, which is within the first year of Elvira’s existence. I love this early publicity shot of Elvira. She hasn’t even acquired the trademark bee hive hairdo just yet.

Intro Elvira! 2

In the article we learn a bit about the person behind Elvira, Cassandra Peterson.  How she had worked as a Vegas showgirl, actress, and secretary before she got the Elvira gig. Cassandra even dated Elvis Presley for a while! But the article is mainly going over how quickly Elvira has become a national sensation broadcasting out of a small LA TV station.  She’d become so popular in Southern California, that for a 3-D broadcast of Vincent Price’s The Mad Magician, the station partnered with 7-11 stores and sold over 2.5 million red/blue 3-D glasses.

Intro Elvira! 3

Cassandra Peterson says at the end of the article that they are in negotiations for an Elvira movie as well as another movie appearance for Cassandra as herself.

As Fangoria is want to do, they place a color Elvira pin-up at the end of the article. And here it is in all of its glory.  And in this pin-up, she does have the bee hive.

Intro Elvira! pin up



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: The One and Only Vampira

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine with tags , , , , , on September 30, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

Okay, I took last year off from doing AWESOME-tober-fest.  It was a nice break and I enjoyed reading other people’s Halloween countdowns without having to worry about doing my own.

Now, this year, I decided to come back.  I currently plan on doing updates every weekday in October, but if I miss one here or there, I’m sorry.  And this year, for the first time, I’m going to do a sequel to one of my previous themes.  I’m going back into the well and do Bloody Best of Fangoria ALL MONTH.  Articles, posters, covers, ads, all from the pages of the greatest of horror magazines, FANGORIA.

Should be a lot of fun, let’s get it started.

For this first week of AWESOME-tober-fest, I want to cover one of my favorite horror personalities, Elvira.  I discovered her within the pages of Fangoria and I want to take this week to celebrate the Mistress of the Dark.

BUT FIRST, before I get to Elvira, I want to showcase one of Elvira’s predecessors.  Back in the early 80s Fangoria did a series of interviews in successive issues talking about famous horror TV show hosts.  They were very prevalent, especially on local TV stations, in the 60s and 70s.  One of the interviews in this series was with Maila Nurmi, who portrayed Vampira.  Vampira was one of the very first TV horror hosts in the 50s.  She also was an actress and appeared in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Here’s the article:

Vampira 1 Vampira 2

I’m not going to lie, this is a *weird* interview. It’s ostensibly an interview with Nurmi about being Vampira, but it’s told almost stream of consciousness style by Nurmi, and it feels like it’s in character as Vampira. WEIRD.

We learn she originally dressed as Morticia Addams for a costume party and won first place. She was such a hit that a station manager wanted to hire her to liven up their late night movies. So she had to alter her costume a bit to differentiate it from Morticia and became Vampira. She went on the air in May 1954. And then, according to her in the article, she was off the air in December 1954. I guess she was too risque? Nurmi doesn’t really lay it all out nice and neat for you in the article.

Vampira 3 Vampira 4

What Nurmi *does* lay out all nice and neat for you in the article are her thoughts on Elvira. She said in 1981 she was in talks with the TV studio to train a new Vampira. Actually, she said the studio *insisted* that she play Vampira in a new show. Nurmi claims to have turned that down several times and said that she convinced them to let her find and train a new performer as Vampira. However, she claims, the TV station went behind her back and hired Cassandra Peterson and then created Elvira when she wouldn’t lease them the name Vampira. And then she makes it clear that she does *not* like Cassandra Peterson. As a person, or as a performer.

Fangoria, after printing Nurmi’s version of these events, then went to the TV station, KHJ-TV, and asked them their side. The program director, Walt Baker, said that yes, they did consult her for a new Vampira show. He said Ms Nurmi was to be a consultant, give them pictures, consult on constructing sets, and let them see any of the original Vampira scripts, but it was always up to the station to hire the new girl. Baker also said that he never intended Ms Nurmi to play Vampira. The person they hired was going to be the new Vampira and that Nurmi would have guest spots as Vampira’s mother.

So, as you can see, this was a pretty sticky, but interesting situation. And a few issues later, it came to a head based on the things Ms Nurmi said about Cassandra Peterson and Elvira.  Fangoria received a letter from Elvira herself. All it contained was a little poem directed at Ms Nurmi written in classic Elvira style.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest Returns!

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2019 by Paxton

Okay, I took a long hiatus. I took off Halloween last year. I had done AWESOME-tober-fest for 10 years in a row and really wanted to take a break. I hadn’t fully intended to do it again this year, but I got started and now I want to do it. So, expect AWESOME-tober-fest this year. In three weeks, to be exact.

This year’s theme will be a return to Bloody Best of Fangoria.

Awesometoberfest 2019

I first did Bloody Best of Fangoria back in 2014. I still have a bunch of unused Fangorias laying around so I thought I’d revisit the topic and use up some of that horrific content. However, the first two weeks of October will also have a second, more specific theme. Elvira.

Awesometoberfest 2019

I’m a huge fan of the goth, horror host and have been for years.  There’s a lot of Fangoria content featuring Elvira as well as a wealth of other pop culture things I can talk about specifically related to the Mistress of the Dark.  I’ve been having fun compiling the article so I hope you guys have fun reading it.

Expect AWESOME-tober-fest 2019 to start on Monday September 30, 2019.

Until then, UNpleasant dreams!



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

2018 Year End Honorable Mentions – Books/Comics

Posted in books, comic books, pop culture with tags , , , , , on February 4, 2019 by Paxton

YE Book Report

So you read my movie/TV Honorable Mentions list for 2018 (or maybe you didn’t).  Regardless, now it’s time for me to list out some books and comics that didn’t make the favorites list but I still want to talk about in some way.

Let’s do books first, then I’ll do some comics.

Origin
Origins – Dan Brown
– This is Brown’s latest Robert Langdon novel. *Long loud sigh* I really liked the first two Langdon books, Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I really didn’t like the third book, The Lost Symbol. I kind of liked Inferno, especially in how it ends the book with the implication that Langdon didn’t actually save the day. But rather than another Langdon sequel, I’ve longed for Brown to write more standalone novels akin to Deception Point and Digital Fortress. Instead, we get this book, which addresses *NONE* of the consequences of the previous book that I thought were so interesting. There was even a spot at the end of Origin where Inferno could actually have come up. But it doesn’t. Consequently, I hate this book with the lava-like fury of Apokolips itself.

RPO
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
– I wanted to talk about this in my previous list, but it was my third re-read of the book, so it was ineligible. This book has had an interesting journey for me. I *loved* it the first read. Then I listened to Wil Wheaton’s audio book version and I almost hated it. Then this particular re-read I swung back around to liking it again. I have some issues in the beginning, particularly with characterizations of certain people but I love how the world is setup and I love the Oasis.  And the mechanics of the egg hunt.  I’m looking forward to the sequel that Cline is supposedly writing.

Oracle Year
The Oracle Year – Charles Soule
– I’ve talked enough about stuff I didn’t like. How about something I *did* like that very nearly made my favorites list?  I’m a fan of Charles Soule’s comic book writing.  So I was very interested when he released his first novel.  The premise is: one day, a young man wakes up with 180 prophesies in his head.  He writes them down and with his friend, tries to figure out how best to use them.  He starts a website to keep himself anonymous, it becomes a sensation and suddenly he’s dealing with multinational corporations and governments that will stop at nothing to learn his secrets.  It’s a pretty engrossing read that I enjoyed all the way to the end.  No, it doesn’t answer every question I maybe would have liked answered, but it did its job and I really liked the book.  I’m looking forward to any more novels Soule wants to throw our way.

Landover trilogy
The Magic Kingdom of Landover Volume 1 – Terry Brooks
– I have this omnibus that contains the first three books in the series. I didn’t read all three of them last year. Just the third one. And while none of these three books made their respective years’ favorites list, as a group they are actually pretty good.  It’s an interesting take on fantasy.  A lawyer, sick of living the “lawyer life”, wants to get away.  He finds an ad squirreled away in an auction catalog for the purchase of the magical land of Landover.  He’s intrigued, gets his affairs in order, buys the land and travels to Landover, which exists in a different reality, to become its king. And it’s nothing like he had imagined.  I enjoyed the characters Brooks created in this series as well as the land of Landover itself.  And the rules by which the King of Landover must live.  It’s a fun three book cycle that has two more books in a second omnibus and a sixth book that was released several years ago.  I hadn’t originally planned on it but I’ll probably try the fourth book at some point.

Now on to comics.

New Superman
New Super-Man Volume 1: Made in China
– This was a total surprise to me.  I didn’t understand the point of this. Then, I actually thought I’d give it a shot because the more I thought about it the more I was intrigued where they were going with this.  And it’s actually pretty good.  China, feeling like they are falling behind in the super hero department find a way to duplicate powers in certain human beings.  So they create their own Superman, but will they live to regret the person they chose to *be* New Superman?  This very much reminds me of Greg Pak’s Totally Awesome Hulk.  It’s fun and funny.  I liked it a lot more than I expected.  Looking forward to volume 2.

DD
Daredevil Volume 1: Devil at Bay
– This is Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s initial run on Daredevil.  If you remember, I put Waid and Samnee’s Black Widow series on my year end list back in 2017. I said then that I need to check out their previous Daredevil run. So I did. And I didn’t like it. I love both these guys, but I just couldn’t get into this run. I think I just don’t like Daredevil. I had a similar problem getting into Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s run on Daredevil and that run is revered by many comics fans.  I don’t know what to tell you, I tried.  The Charlie Cox Netflix series is great, but I just don’t like Daredevil comics, I guess.

Hex
Hex
– This was a 1985 reboot of the western character Jonah Hex. I had a few issues of this I bought off the rack back in the day. I was intrigued by the post apocalyptic premise featuring the formerly western hero. It ran for about 18 issues back in 85-87.  I read the first 6 last year.  I’m hoping to read the next 6 this year.  It takes place in the distant future but somehow Batman shows up in issues 11-12.  I have to know how that happens.  Anyway, it’s essentially Mad Max meets Paladin: Gun for Hire.  Jonah Hex wakes up in the distant future.  It’s post apocalyptic, after the third World War.  Hex is part of some rich guy’s zoo, but he escapes and roams the land helping out people and fighting off mutant bikers.  It’s not bad.  It’s different.  I won’t say it’s excellent, but it’s definitely an entertaining read.