The Shtick That Wouldn’t Die, Part 2 : “Elvira’s Haunted Hills”

Posted: November 27, 2010 in movies
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"Elvira's Haunted Hills" DVD Cover

So, 13 years of attempted sequels that ultimately went nowhere later, Cassandra Peterson and her husband, sometime-producer/sometime-actor Mark Pierson, finally said “to hell with it” and scraped together about a million and a half bucks’ worth of financing on their own and made another Elvira flick in 2001, this time bringing the obvious and lame double-entendres right into the title of the film itself, calling this one Elvira’s Haunted Hills. This time around they brought in another TV vet to direct, Sam Irvin, and, due to extremely favorable currency exchange rates, brought the production to, appropriately enough, Transylvania, Romania itself. I kid you not.

While the first Elvira movie had a budget of around $8 million, this actually looks like the more expensive production of the two, even though there is, sadly, a dearth of location footage, and most of the production is studio-bound. Which is something of a shame given that this movie was made in what could generously be called the Mistress of the Dark’s natural habitat, but whatever.

Again, the drill is pretty much the same — no joke too obvious, no gag too obvious, no way-less-than-sly sexual reference too obvious, no cleavage shot too obvious, no pun too obvious, no cliche too obvious. Hell, the obvious is Peterson and company’s best friend here, and she knows it — she even co-wrote the script herself!

And you know, that’s the main difference between the first and second Elvira flicks — this one really is a homemade labor of love. Which is not to say it’s the better of the two — it’s not. They’re pretty much about equal, quality-wise. The lady in black herself is less likable here, more of a show-biz bitch, even though this story is set in 1851 in the Carpathian mountains.

I suppose I’d better backtrack for a second and explain that. This “sequel” really isn’t a sequel at all, it’s a completely different story that just happens to feature the same character. This time around she’s headed from eastern Europe to Paris, where her new can-can show is due to open, with her faithful (and flabby) servant girl, Zou Zou, in tow. The have some trouble paying their bill at an inn, need to skedaddle in a hurry, catch a ride from a handsome stranger, and end up in a haunted castle owned by an evil Lord (or maybe he’s a Count — in either case he’s played by Richard O’Brien of The Rocky Horror Picture Show fame) whose dead wife bears a striking resmeblance to Elvira herself! Hijinx, needless to say, ensue.

As with the previous entry in the Elvira a cinematic “canon,” don’t expect anything you wouldn’t expect (well, okay, the song-and-dance number that randomly breaks out at pretty much the exact midway point of the movie is a bit jarring, but fun in the usual lame way), but do expect plenty of cleavage, some sorta-near-nudity(again, this is strictly PG-13 stuff), some more of Elvira throwing herself at a male suitor who may not be quite as interested as she is, some cheap boob-groping, some even cheaper laughs, and just general camp nonsense.

There’s a sort of cut-rate genius at work here, as before — Peterson’s whole Elvira shtick is hopelessly lame and she knows it. That’s sorta the point, really. Harmless horror, harmless titillation, and harmless laughs at punchless jokes. Some performers want to shake up the world — Peterson is happy just to deliver the goods. Sure, she’s a little older here, but nothing a push-up bra can’t solve. The song, as ever, remains the same. No harm in that.

Peterson and Pierson weren’t able to get any theatrical release for this one, but I’m betting they didn’t much try. Its straight-to-video fate was obvious from the outset, why fight it? This time around the company that put it out was an outfit I’ve never heard of before (and not since, either, for that matter) called Good Times Video. Their product features a perfectly-decent-if-unspectacular widescreen anamorphic transfer paired with a perfectly-decent-if-unspectacular 2.0 stereo soundtrack. As far as extras go, there’s a trailer, plus a pretty solid little “making-of” documentary. If you enjoyed the first Elvira flick, you’ll enjoy this one. You don’t need to see it, even if you saw and liked the previous film — but then there’s no reason not to, either, so there ya go.

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