I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during the writing of “Mistress of the Dark.” Basically, the entire formula for comedy is comprised of a steady delivery of sex joke, double entendre, joke about Elvira’s breasts, sex joke, double entendre, joke about Elvira’s breasts, sex joke, double entendre, joke about Elvira’s breasts. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Hope for the best! Not to say it’s a bad formula, but after an hour, it becomes so predictable, you can see when a joke is about to fly at the audience, and it doesn’t really land all the time. But then again, Cassandra Peterson makes even the most clunky one-liner land, thanks to her almost unabashed goofiness, and her ability to use her chest as a sight gag more times than not.
For anyone who used to see this film when it originally premiered, using her chest as a form of laughs and awe from the men in the audience never gets old. When I was seven I’d see this movie every single time it was on television and it’s not because the movie is a comedy classic. Granted, “Mistress of the Dark” has a lot going for it. It never tries too hard and actually has fun with the premise. Cassandra Peterson uses this opportunity to bank on the popularity of her character while also giving her something to do. She provides the audience with her origin, a back story about her family, and she never hesitates to flirt with men around her in spite of the disgust of the puritanical town she ends up in.
There endless sex jokes and sight gags, so much so that the script would only be about four pages without them included. After quitting her famous cable show, Elvira sets out to start her own Vegas act, but she needs almost a hundred thousand dollars to fund it. She’s called back to her aunt’s home town Fallwell to inherit her possessions after she’s died, and after moving in to her dark mansion and adopting her dog, Elvira discovers she comes from a long line of witches. Meanwhile, her evil long lost uncle wants the sacred book of “recipes” Elvira’s aunt has left behind, while Elvira battles the town’s puritanical government, all of whom will do whatever it takes to run her out of town. Elvira runs amok garnering the love of the town’s teens, and even turns a small picnic in to an orgy after she botches a stew.
“Mistress of the Dark” is by no means a masterpiece, but compared to the likes of similar fare like “Repossessed,” it’s just infinitely more watchable and entertaining. Elvira sticks closely to the horror genre, providing a fish out of water comedy that was quite popular in films like “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” and the eventual “Addams Family” big screen debut. Elvira herself is a likable character filled with movie references and shameless homages, while also never afraid to flaunt her assets to everyone she meets, even smothering her own windshield when she cleans it at a gas station. It may not be the comedy that re-invented horror comedies, but Elvira’s feature film debut is an entertaining and raunchy foray with the always sexy and unique Cassandra Peterson keeping together a formula plot and hit or miss jokes and one-liners with her wit, personality, and pair of talents always heaving for the audience.