Retro Review: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Retro Review: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Does the TV horror hostess successfully make the leap to film?
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"Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" is a bit of an outdated oddity by today's standards, but in world where there is a movie based on emojis, a movie based on a TV host is perhaps not too strange. Elvira (aka Cassandra Peterson) was a popular late-night TV host; in a bygone era before online streaming, the discerning fan of horror movies would often have to turn to late-night TV to catch various cinematic oddities. Most cities had some form of late-night programming focused on horror movies (invariably B-grade schlock with cheap licensing rights). These various shows always had some sort of horror-themed host who would introduce the movie and occasionally make comments on the film in between commercial breaks. It may seem strange, then, that someone would make a spinoff movie based on such thin source material. Despite this, "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" is not only competently made, but also quite fun.

Fittingly, the movie opens with Elvira on the set of her TV show. However, the TV station's new manager arrives and immediately starts harassing her. In what is to become a trend throughout the film, Elvira tells the guy off with acerbic insult comic wit. Although at times the movie seems to be objectifying Elvira for her notoriously buxom figure and low-cut dresses, the script (co-written by Peterson herself) is full of oddly empowering moments where she fends off various creeps. After the encounter with the creepy boss, Elvira quits her job to pursue her dream of starring in a Las Vegas act. Unfortunately she needs $50,000 to finance the act, but in one of those conveniences that only happen in movies, Elvira learns she has a long-lost aunt who has died and left her an inheritance.

Elvira promptly drives up to the Fallwell, Massachusetts for the will hearing. Upon arriving, it is apparent that the horror hostess's outlandish goth valley girl look clashes with the bland, conservative locals. Much of the comedic moments that follow are derived from this setup, as Elvira's unselfconscious sexuality and hokey stand-up comic humor ruffles the feathers of the town council and other residents of Fallwell. At the hearing, Elvira inherits her aunt's house, pet poodle, and a recipe book, but no money for financing the Vegas act. Also in attendance is Elvira's long-lost uncle, Vincent Talbot (W. Morgan Sheppard), who takes a suspicious interest in getting the book from his niece. While trying to figure out how to come up with the necessary cash for her act, Elvira continually runs afoul of the town council, who fear she is corrupting the morals of the town's youth. However, the town's youth think Elvira is the coolest thing ever, to the point that a large group of teens paint her new house for free.

Wacky hijinks continue to ensue while Uncle Talbot and his hired goons (of course he has goons, why wouldn't he?) try to find Elvira's newly inherited recipe book. The book, however, is not merely a recipe book, but a spellbook. As she eventually learns, Elvira is descended from a line of powerful witches, and the spellbook was hidden away by her aunt to prevent Uncle Talbot from using it to take over the world. This being a goofy comedy, Elvira winds up using the spellbook for revenge against her tormentors in Fallwell. She cooks up a magic dish and sneaks into the buffet table at a community picnic, which has an unexpected aphrodisiac effect, sending the conservative town council members into comically bacchanalian abandon.

Elvira's prank does not sit well with the Fallwell authorities, so they opt use an archaic Massachusetts law and execute her by burning her at the stake. The townsfolk almost succeed, but Elvira manages to escape and goes on to do magic battle with her evil uncle. To describe the proceedings in further detail would ruin all the wonderfully cheesy jokes crammed into the third act. Suffice to say, good prevails over evil and Elvira gets her Las Vegas act. And of course the includes the requisite ending song-and-dance number that populates so many comedies that don't know how to wrap things up properly. There's even a regrettably dated rap verse in her performance!

"Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" is incredibly on-the-nose and silly, but it is also self-aware enough to realize that. There is an inherent camp value to the film that makes it very fun to watch. Most of Elvira's comedy shtick consists of jokes about her large bust and cheesy Dad Joke one-liners (you can practically hear the rimshot sound effect after half of her lines in the movie). In a way, the movie's sense of humor is similar to that of Peterson's former Groundlings theater troupe colleague, Paul Reubens. Both Elvira and Pee-Wee Herman have a broad, intentionally campy style, with lots of mugging at the camera and corny standup zingers. Your mileage may vary on this film if that type of humor does not gel with you, but for those who find it funny, this is a campy comedy cult classic.

Rating: 8/10

Cover Image Credit: Sophie Robson

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18 Ways The Disney College Program Destroys You

"I can only hope we never lose sight of one thing, that it was all started by a mouse" - Walt Disney
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The Disney College Program, three little words that may or may not forever change your perspective of the world. Working for Disney has been my dream since I was a little kid. That’s all I ever wanted to do with my life-- to become a part of the magic. It wasn’t just because it’s Disney World, the most magical place on Earth. It's because I truly admire everything that this company stands for. Disney is all about bringing families and friends together, creating memories that will last a lifetime and sprinkling a little pixie dust over this magical place that I’ve called home for eleven months. I knew all of this when I received that “Congratulations!” email. Excitement rushed through my veins . The world of possibilities had finally opened its door for me. What I didn’t know, was what those possibilities truly meant, until post DCP depression kicked in. It's a real thing my friends.

1. You are always going to be an extremely friendly and approachable person.

No matter where you are or who you are talking to, you can't help to smile. You always carry a welcoming vibe with you, no matter what situation you are placed in. Working for Disney taught you how to have the patience of a Saint when it comes to dealing with people. You learned that the best way to communicate is listening to everyone with an open mind, even if they’re screaming in your face about Test Track being out of FastPasses.

2. You are constantly finding hidden Mickeys in the real world.

Admit it, your mind creates hidden Mickeys out of almost every random three circle formation. You can’t help it. You have Disney on your mind all the time.

3. You are FULL of Disney Park fun facts.

Did you know that there are 11,324 triangles that make up Spaceship Earth?!

You love sharing your vast pool of knowledge of random Disney Park fun facts. Sometimes even when people don't care about it, you just have to talk about all the things you learned as a CP.

4. You also may speak ride spiel.

“We're not gonna make it, we're not gonna make it"- Dinosaur at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

When you work for Disney, you live and breath Disney. You couldn't even count how many times you've been to the park, even just to hub grass and chill or ride the People Mover four times in a row. Those spiels were a part of your everyday life. You know when you are riding Hunted Mansion with a boatload of cast members when everyone in the stretch room whispers, "I am your host, your ghost host". Going to the park almost every day is a part of CP culture. Accidentally referring to ride spells still sometimes slips into your daily conversation. Did you really do the college program if you don't know at least one ride spiel?

5. You constantly feel the need to get down the small child's level and talk to them about their favorite Disney characters.

"Hi Princess! My, you look dashing today, what Kingdom did you travel from?!"

What you would do to get back to the days when you were paid to sit on the ground to talk to a child dressed up as Cinderella. You see a child at your real world job and you feel the need to ask them about the about their favorite Disney movie. You catch yourself accidentally referring to people as princess in the real world, but it instated of the magic it used to produce, they look at you like you’re a crazy person. *sigh*

6. If your friends hear you say, ”So this one time in Disney…" one more time they may punch you in the face.

OMG-- this reminds me of this one time in Disney when...*insert story of an amazing day you and your Disney fam had here.*

You can’t help it, every single day was filled with an adventure during your CP. You want to share your stories with everyone you encounter. It's like word vomit. The second something reminds you of your CP there is no stopping you. Your friends back home may either get really annoyed or end up learning everything you did when you had free access to Disney World.

7. Boy do you miss the days when Mondays were happy.

"We love you Mondays, we do."

For some who were into the social scene, you blankly gaze out your window on a Monday night wondering what county you would have been playing at Son On The Beach. You watch your remaining CP friends' Snapchat stories and think to yourself, "Anzacs VS. Gayllerie!? Ugh, must have been a good game." You miss the days when your only struggle was to make it out of work on time to get to Happy Mondays. Your friends back home wonder how you are so freakishly good at flip cup. It’s a CP thing.

8. 90% of your best friends are long distance.

Skype dates are essential.

You created bonds with people from all over the world during your CP. You celebrated holidays with these people. You spent every single day with them during your time in Florida. Your program would never be as magical if it wasn't for the amazing people you met here. Some of these people turn into your life long best friends-- even if they currently reside 12 hours ahead of you. There isn't a day that goes by that you don’t think about you CP BFFs. When they say you will meet the most amazing people you will ever interact with working for Disney, they were not kidding. These people are even more than friends to you, they are family. If it means staying up till 2AM to Skype with your old roommate, who now lives on the other side of the world, it doesn't even cross your mind how late it is. Catching up with them is always worth it.

9. You probably have roughly 500 "I'm Celebrating" buttons.

"Happy squad-iversary!"

You found every excuse in the book to rock an "I'm Celebrating" button when you and your squad hit the parks. "I'm celebrating ERs" was a great one to sport when you got off work early. The button days were the special days. You could probably fill an entire cork board with all of the buttons you collected over your CP. Thank goodness for that, you'll have a tangible memory of those magical days for a lifetime.

10. The clock strikes 3:00PM and you know the Festival Of Fantasy Parade is strolling out of Frontier Land.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the time has come to take your places” -The Festival Of Fantasy Parade.

You continuously catch yourself looking at the clock around 3PM and feeling a little empty inside. To all the days before work when you watched that parade with your roommates, you were the greatest. You can always spot a cast member as “dreams that glow” blur down Main Street. They are usually the ones dancing along and singing as their favorite floats pass by. What you would do to relive those days.

11. You know a lot about the world and the people it's made up of.

I’d be real keen to learn about your culture over some Maccas, eh.

You know to never tell an Australian their accent sounds like a Kiwi's or visa-versa. You can spot the difference from miles away. You’ve learned the lads from down under are some of the funniest people you’ll ever interact with, and there are in fact, no kangaroos in New Zealand— just wallabies. You know that the people from Spain and Brazil are usually down for some fun and it's always a good time to kick back with your friends from France or The Netherlands. It's true that the Italians are loud and outspoken, in the best way possible. The people from Japan are simply the some of the sweetest. You meet so many people from all over the world and learn so much about their culture. You get more of a feel for all of the greatness the world is made up of than any textbook could ever explain.

12. You could draw a map of Magic Kingdom blindfolded.

“Nearest FastPass kiosk?!” “Down the pathway to the left!

Not only is Disney World your home, but you know every square inch of it. You could still probably give someone directions to the nearest quick service restaurant of your location, from wherever you are currently sitting in the world.

13. Applying for jobs? Disney always makes you stand out.

“Wow, you worked for Disney World? Tell me more about that!”

Your resume stands out among the thousands. Potential employers want to hear about your Disney College Program experience and you are over the moon to share. You tell them about the days where you immersed guests into the theme of your location and all of the magic you made. Working for the number one entertainment company is something to be proud of.

14. You are constantly checking airline prices to reunite with your roommates and get back to the place that started it all.

There is nothing better than reuniting with your Disney family. Your most visited web pages are airlines sites. You count the days where you can rule the parks again with your favorite people by your side. You can't help but to run to them in the middle of MCO with tears in your eyes and magic in your heart, ready to create even more memories together. You know you found forever friends in them, it's never goodbye— it's see ya real soon.

15. You have a strong emotional attachment to certain rides of shows.

"The best part is, you'll never run out of wishes"- Wishes Nighttime Spectacular.

There are some shows and rides that take you right back to the days where Walt Disney World was your usual hang out spot. Some of those shows have so much more meaning to you and the magic you made. You tend to get a little teary eyed watching them when you visit. Even when your CP is over, the magic lives on in your soul.

16. Disney is not just a vacation spot to you, it’s your home.

You feel at ease here. You may have even found who you are and who you aspire to be here. It’s a special place to you that holds so much magic. Going back feels familiar. You never feel like an outsider here. Walt Disney World really is your home and it welcomes you right back every time you return.

17. People who know you before your College Program say you've changed.

You're more outspoken, you are confident in yourself and you carry on with pride. Not to mention your work ethic and customer service skills are outstanding. You believe in things and the people around you. You believe in magic and that's all thanks to the Disney College Program.

18. It was the best 4 months - 1 year of your life and you would do anything to relive just one more day of being a CP.

"While no one knows for sure what we'll see or do. I do know it will be quite an adventure, an adventure that we'll take and make together. See you in the future"- Spaceship Earth.

If you were given the opportunity to put on those extreme high-waisted polyester grandpa pants and that florescent shirt that was probably eight sizes too big for you— you’d do it in a heartbeat. Despite the long hours and blazing sun, sometimes your life felt like a dream. Your time spent working for the mouse will forever be your most magical days, as the Disney College Program was the best opportunity of your entire life.

Cover Image Credit: Dana Saccoccio

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4 Things To Do When You Don't Win The UVA Basketball Lottery

Better luck next time.

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Now that it is officially winter, it is time to cheer on Tony Bennett and the 'Hoos in one of UVA's favorite sports: basketball. While die-hard fans have attended nearly every UVA sports game leading up to basketball season to rake in Saber points, other people (like myself) have only gone to some games and have very few of these points. I was able to go to the first, less intense games with my minuscule amount of points, but now that the team has begun to play major ACC opponents, I am out of luck when it comes to scoring tickets. I am sure that I am not the only one who has had this issue as well. So, instead of being upset and watching the game through the Sanpchat stories of the friends who did get tickets, here is a list of activities that you can do while the game is going on.

1. Stream the game

The Streamable

This is definitely the most basic solution to not getting tickets. Apps like ESPN can sometimes let you stream the game. However, if you do not have a TV provider, you are probably unable to do this. If you can't stream the game but still really want to see it, see if someone you know is watching it and watch the game together. You could also go out with friends to a restaurant or sports bar around C'Ville since they probably have the game on one of their TV's.

2. Spend time with friends

Casey Clarke

If you aren't able to watch the game on a device, you can spend some time hanging out with friends who could also not get tickets. When my roommate and I did not get tickets to the last basketball game, we played card games with some friends and watched the latest episode of The Bachelor and made it a night that was even better than if we had gone to the game.

3. Catch up on work

Lukasz Popardowski

Personally, I always have something that I need to do for a class or extracurricular. While I typically push the work off until later if it isn't very important, I could be finishing that work during the time that I would have spent at the game. Although this may not be the most fun way to spend your time, it is very productive and helps you in the long run.

4. Relax

Giphy

When you don't want to work or go anywhere, just stay home and have a relaxing night. Get in some comfy clothes, make some popcorn, and binge watch some TV or movies. School can cause you to build up stress, so having a relaxing night in would help to alleviate some of the stress and make you happier.

Although you may be bummed that you did not win tickets to the game, hopefully doing one of these things will help to take your mind off of it. Then, go to more games to get more Saber Points and try again for the next game. Hopefully, you will eventually get tickets and have an amazing time!

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