Welcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where sometimes our expectations are exceeded. That is the case this week with Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001).
What’s The Plot?
In 19th Century Carpathia, cabaret performer Elvira becomes stranded in the spooky castle of the creepy and duplicitous Hellsubus family. Can she survive the castle’s intrigues long enough to dance in Paris? The movie would be a big downer if she died gruesomely, but we’d applaud the outside-the-box thinking.
Who Made This Beautiful
Cassandra Peterson, the actress/singer/comedienne who has been playing Elvira since 1981, did. It seems no studios were interested in making a second Elvira feature (despite Elvira, Mistress of the Dark being really good), so she put a million bucks of her own money (presumably with other investment) into making it herself.
Five Reasons to See It
- Richard O’Brien, best known for writing and playing Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and voicing the dad on Disney’s Phineas & Ferb, plays the insane Count Hellsubus. The man is capable of hamming it up like no one else, and uses that skill to great effect here.
- Elvira’s sexy stable stud is played by a local Romanian actor who didn’t speak a word of English. His dialogue, dubbed with intentional incompetence, is provided by veteran voice actor Rob Paulsen. Fun Fact: He’d work with Cassandra Peterson again on the 2012 iteration of Teenager Mutant Ninja Turtles – he’s the regular voice of Donatello, she’s a recurring alien robot.
- The film is purportedly a pitch perfect parody of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe films, to the point that Peterson picked the director based on his familiarity with them. I…wouldn’t actually know, to be honest.
- Cassandra Peterson is quite the looker at any age.
- Usually a quote goes here, but so much of the dialogue is made up of snark that wouldn’t make sense out of context that I instead say: Many of the jokes are corny and obvious, but the cast makes them work.
So the first time I watched this movie, it bored me to tears – that’s why I picked it for 1 out of 5. The jokes were corny, obvious, and stale, the plot mostly existed to set up the jokes. Since that time, however, I’ve seen Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, read Elvira’s House of Mystery (available on this week’s Wednesday Night Americana Broadcast Spooktacular), and I’ve watched some of Elvira’s Movie Macabre. Now that I “get” what Elvira is, I loved the movie.
NEXT WEEK: My friend Claire recently expressed surprise that I’ve never seen 1989’s Nintendoriffic classic The Wizard, being as it is a crossroads of “movie megacheese” and “nerdy pop culture”. She’s right, so November will be a month of classic bad studio features I should’ve seen by now – The Wizard, Roadhouse, and Soul Man.