Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark is a popular figure in American culture that has appeared in a variety of media since the early 1980s. She is portrayed by Cassandra Peterson.
Elvira is known for her high beehive hairdo, complex eye makeup, revealing dress & curvaceous figure, and propensity for corny jokes.
In 1981, Elvira debuted as the host of Movie Macabre, a late-night television program that showed "scary" movies. It was originally intended to revive the character Vampira, but Vampira's creator/performer Maila Nurmi left the project over creative differences.
Like Mystery Science Theater 3000, Movie Macabre features host segments consisting of short sketches. Elvira occasionally interrupts the movie, appearing on screen to make a short joke, though this did not include a running commentary such as on MST3K.
Movie Macabre ran from 1981 until 1986. It was eventually syndicated across the United States, and was re-run frequently. Episodes were also released on home video.
Movie Macabre was revived in 2010 with a 20-episode production run. Some of the films were re-used from the original run with new material produced.
The following is a list of films that appeared on both Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Movie Macabre:
- The Incredible Melting Man
- The Human Duplicators
- Village of the Giants
- The Giant Gila Monster
- The Brain That Wouldn't Die
- Teenagers from Outer Space
- Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
- "Manos" The Hands of Fate
- Hercules and the Captive Women
- It Lives by Night (under its alternate title The Bat People)
Some films featured on Movie Macabre were later used by Cinematic Titanic. These include Legacy of Blood, The Doomsday Machine, The Oozing Skull (under its alternate title The Creature's Revenge), Danger on Tiki Island (under its alternate title Island of Living Horror) and Frankenstein's Castle Of Freaks. Additionally, some films used on Movie Macabre have been used by The Film Crew (Killers from Space) and RiffTrax.
Starting in the mid-1980s, Elvira provided host segments for a series of home video releases called Thriller Video. The series included The Human Duplicators and Blood Waters of Dr. Z (released under the alternate title Attack of the Swamp Creatures). She later released a similar series called Elvira's Midnight Madness, which included The Crawling Hand, The Giant Gila Monster, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Eegah, and The Wasp Woman.
Elvira starred in an annual Halloween-themed live stage show at the Knott's Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, California until 2017.
In 2014, a new series of 13 episodes was produced for the on-line streaming service Hulu, which were made available over the last 13 days of October in an event called "Thirteen Nights of Elvira". One of the films selected was Hobgoblins. Another film used was Oblivion, which became a RiffTrax presentation in 2017.
- During during the first host segment of the KTMA episode Humanoid Woman, Dr. Forrester and Dr. Erhardt are shown admiring a cardboard standee of Elvira.
- A storyline that appeared in Elvira Comics in 1994-95 featured characters that were analogues of Joel Robinson, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. They had been lured into a trap along with several other television movie hosts and were rescued by Elvira.
- In 1995, Frank Conniff wrote the prime time TV special Attack of the Killer B Movies, which stars Elvira. The 2-hour special features heavily edited versions of the films The Wasp Woman (which had also been colorized), Killers from Space (also colorized), Monster from Green Hell, and The Navy vs. the Night Monsters (starring Mamie Van Doren).
- Elvira appeared as a guest on an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
- In 1984, Elvira appeared (in character) in an episode of the TV action/adventure series The Fall Guy starring Lee Majors. The episode is entitled "October the 31st" (also the original airdate), and features John Carradine, his son David, and Doug McClure. Elvira and McClure reprised their roles in another episode the following October.
- Frank Conniff made a passing reference to Elvira during the Cinematic Titanic presentation of Blood of the Vampires. She was also referred to during one of the riffs made during the opening credits sequence of the RiffTrax of Fangs of the Living Dead.
- Some episodes of Movie Macabre from the 1980s are available to stream for free at shoutfactorytv.com, which also offers a large selection of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. The free online streaming service tubitv.com offers the same selection of Movie Macabre episodes, as well as all episodes of 13 Nights of Elvira and a large selection of MST3K and RiffTrax.