Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2002)
Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2002)

Genre: Horror Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.

Release Date: October 31st, 2002 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Sam Irvin Actors: Cassandra Peterson, Richard O’Brien, Mary Scheer, Scott Atkinson, Heather Hopper, Mary Jo Smith

 


 

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n a goofy, slapstick opening, Elvira “Mistress of the Dark” (Cassandra Peterson) and her portly partner Zou Zou (Mary Jo Smith) flee from an angry innkeeper, unable to afford the lodging. To their rescue comes psychiatrist Dr. Bradley Bradley (Scott Atkinson), offering a ride in his carriage up north. The year is 1851 (though anachronistic references abound), in Carpathia, and their destination is Castle Hellsubus – a dark, forbidding, labyrinthine place full of eccentric inhabitants.

All entertainer-extraordinaire Elvira wants is to put on a world-renowned Parisian Revue, but being held up in the creepy manor is, at least, free room and board. “This castle and its occupants are cursed,” insists Bradley, warning of the strange and unnatural activities that plague the premises. And pasty-faced, vampiric Lord Vladimere Hellsubus (Richard O’Brien) is the patriarch of weirdness, freaking out at the sight of Elvira, who bears a striking resemblance to Lady Elura, Vladimere’s former wife (named after the stuff used in Elvira’s first wig). The equally peculiar Lady Roxanna (Heather Hopper), Vladimere’s niece, and Lady Ema (Mary Scheer), a severe, somber, peeping woman (and Vladimere’s second wife), round out an assemblage of unhinged relatives.

“I’m a little sheepish when it comes to wolves.” Mimicking the style of Elvira’s previous theatrical endeavor (a whopping 13 years prior), this follow-up is flush with double-entendres, blatant sex jokes, fourth-wall-breaking asides, and her signature clumsiness (or the butterfingered nature of those around her) – which often finds characters grabbing her ample bosoms for stability. Absurd dialogue, lots of puns, and playful frolicking also supplement the insincere horror and physical comedy. And one or two uncomfortable bodily-fluid gags also arise, though, like the rest of the laughs, they’re rather repressed, safely falling under the PG-13 restrictions.

“Careful! That thing might go off in your hand.” Once again, the film isn’t all that funny, despite an abundance of one-liners, continual comedic interactions (including a few cartoonish ones reminiscent of the Three Stooges), merry music (and dippy musical cues), and even a song-and-dance number. Instead, its charm (limited as it may be in movie format) comes primarily from Elvira herself, who maintains a likable, confident, cheery persona, fully embracing a sense of promiscuousness married with simplemindedness. After all, the plot, which contains a hint of a mystery, mainly exists to set up sexual jokes and references. Unfortunately, it’s fairly similar to the first film, which exhausted virtually all of Elvira’s one-note schtick (though an elaborate pit and pendulum set piece has its moments, nicely parodying the films of Corman, Hammer, and Vincent Price).

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10