In between talking and listening to Placebo – again, a lot – we would watch films for hours on end. While drinking tea/wine and smoking fags.
Our favourite films for these occasions were: The Labyrinth (we could both, basically, recite the entire thing for you, songs and all, right now), Clue (we love Tim Curry), Charles Worthington’s Big Hair (it came free with a hairdryer and is surprisingly entertaining), and Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.
I had never heard of Elvira before I met Lou (one of the many ways she changed my life for the better). I was immediately obsessed and still am. On the back cover of the video, they call her ‘Cher crossed with Beetlejuice’ – does it get any better?
Lou and I both coveted Elvira’s look wildly and would spend hours trying to recreate it (Lou more skilfully than I). It’s still a look that I totally fetishise (see also: Bettie Page, Barbarella, Cher herself), mostly because I am too lazy to pull it off, but for a long time I tried. Huge hair (that very particular massive-on-the-top vs. skinny at the ends – the holy grail), perfectly feline exaggerated eyeliner, corseting, high heels. Cher crossed with Beetlejuice is a good analogy, as is Morticia Addams crossed with Traci Lords.
The amazing look is accessorised with abandon – a customised ‘50s muscle car, a dyed poodle, a haunted house, etc. It is also complemented with a wickedly witty and filthy script. Elvira is not only a hot goth, she’s effing hilarious.
‘Hi, I’m Elvira – but you can call me…tonight.’
‘No, but if you hum a few bars I’ll fake it!’
‘Well, here’s to my big opening! Ahem…’
The story is almost irrelevant but it goes thusly: Elvira is sacked from her job as a cable TV B-movie hostess, but then finds out that she’s been left the entire estate of her recently-deceased Aunt Morgana, who she had never met. She travels to the small town where her aunt lived and finds not only a long-lost creepy ‘uncle’ and a hot local builder, but a whole host of conservative townsfolk who think she’s a witch. So, you know, can she protect her inheritance, get the guy AND avoid being burned at the stake? Needless to say, hilarity ensues.
Like her look, it’s the perfect mix of goth-glam-comedy. Just when it’s total cool B-movie pastiche, she does a Flashdance routine!
During the summer holidays, we would watch it most days, joining in with our favourite jokes. We’d then watch Charles Worthington’s Big Hair and try to recreate Elvira’s beehive. Then smoke some fags and listen to Placebo.
I still love Elvira and have frequently been astounded at the array of merchandise available on eBay: from action figures to cardboard cut-outs to pinball machines. If ever I have a house that will fit it all in, I swear one day I’m going to snap and go Elvira merch crazy.
The much-delayed 2002 sequel, Elvira’s Haunted Hills, is not quite up to the original in the classic stakes. However, it’s still worth a watch. Because, you know, who doesn’t want to watch Elvira and Richard O’Brien running around a graveyard together? No-one I’m interested in hanging out with, that’s for sure.
Next Hallowe’en – or next time you’ve got some time on your hands and feel like a bit of comedy-goth-horror-glamour in your life – I’d highly recommend digging out Elvira.