Elvira's Haunted Hills

An affectionate spoof of '60s gothic horror films that's dedicated to Vincent Price and takes special aim at Roger Corman's lavish Edgar Allen Poe pictures. Carpathia, 1851: entertainer Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), and her loyal French maid, Zou Zou (Mary Jo Smith), are hitching their way cross country. Their eventual destination is France, where Elvira...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

An affectionate spoof of '60s gothic horror films that's dedicated to Vincent Price and takes special aim at Roger Corman's lavish Edgar Allen Poe pictures. Carpathia, 1851: entertainer Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), and her loyal French maid, Zou Zou (Mary Jo Smith), are hitching their way cross country. Their eventual destination is France, where Elvira plans to headline a "world-renowned Parisian revue." In the meantime, they accept from Dr. Bradley Bradley (Scott Atkinson) both a lift and an invitation to spend the night at Castle Hellsubus. The Hellsubus family, says Bradley, is believed to be cursed; Lord Hellsubus (Richard O'Brien) and his frail niece, Roxanna ('80s child actress Heather Hopper), both suffer from a pathological acuity of the senses, and Hellsubus' first wife, Elura (also Peterson), committed suicide 10 years earlier. Elvira and Zou Zou are soon chin-deep in spooky goings on, though Elvira does find time to strike up a diverting dalliance with Fabio-esque stable master Adrian (Gabriel Andronache). The plot draws heavily on Corman's HOUSE OF USHER (1960), with a healthy dollop of THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961); that said, one of its most successful running gags is the dubbing of Andronache's entire performance in the flat, hollow style of European horror pictures of the period. Like her first feature, ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK (1988), this handsomely mounted spoof (shooting in Romania is always good for production values) is as goofy as they come. Its charm — which is separate, of course, from Elvira's evident charms — lies in its good-natured affection for the movies it's lampooning. Elvira is her same old self, campy, vampy and a little bit trampy but fundamentally on the side of fair play. And though she can be high-handed when it comes to bossing around Zou Zou, she's the kind of can-do girl who hears suspicious noises in the middle of the night and says, "Alright, alright — I'll throw on something skimpy and head down to the dungeon." The dopey puns and borscht-belt one-liners fly thick and fast, Peterson's creamy bosom and slender legs receive maximum PG-13 exposure, and no fright-night cliche escapes unfolded, unspindled or unmutilated. ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) creator Richard O'Brien has a fine time as the morbidly sensitive Hellsubus, and Atkinson does a mean Boris Karloff imitation. Elvira fans could hardly ask for more.

Coming Soon

Because it's never too early to plan Thursday night... two months from now.

My News

Sign up and add shows to get the latest updates about your favorites shows - Start Now