The continued adventures of Elvira, Mistress of the Night (Cassandra Peterson stars and co-wrote). Elvira and her friend Zou Zou are off to perform in a cabaret show in 1851 Paris when their carriage breaks down in Carpathia. They find shelter at the castle of Lord Hellsubus (Richard O’Brien). Between the castle’s wacky inhabitants like Lady Ima (Mary Scheer) and Lord Hellsubus’s consumptive niece Roxana (Heather Hopper) and wacky events like Lord Hellsubus mistaking her for his dead first wife, Elvira has her hands full. When Hellsubus snaps, Elvira suspects she may not make it to her show.
The first thing that struck me about the film is that it parodies the 1960s Edgar Allen Poe adaptations, often directed by Roger Corman, invariably starring Vincent Price (whom the film is dedicated to), particularly The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, and The Tomb of Ligeia–there’s even a character who seems to be loosely based on Price. The spoofing is appropriate, since she’s associated with classic movies. She fits naturally in a gothic, brooding tale.
Not that an Elvira movie 13 years after the first one, and long after Elvira went out of style, is a great idea. It’s centered around boob jokes, which quickly get tiresome. Also unfunny are the jokes at the expense of Zou Zou’s weight; she seems to be around just to make Elvira look better by comparison (though I think she’s adorable). However, there are occasional amusing moments, such as Elvira’s line, “Where’s the secret door? They always have one of those.”
What I like about the film is first Richard O’Brien! And second, Elvira is a tough, independent woman. She’s unashamed of her sexuality. Despite the many many jokes about her breasts, she’s the protagonist and demands respect. She also doesn’t need a man to save her. In one scene Hellsubus has her trapped under a pendulum; her love interest Adrian the stable boy is stuck outside the door. She manages to get loose, and by the time he reaches her the baddies are dispatched. She hugs him, saying, “Don’t worry. We’re safe now.” Overall, it’s worth a look, especially if you’re a Rocky Horror fan.