DVD Review: Elvira’s Haunted Hills: The Enhanced Edition



Elvira isn’t merely a horror host. She’s a bonafide movie star. At the height of her ‘80s fame, she became a cult cinematic sensation with Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. Basically Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) played off her Movie Macabre character. Nearly a decade later, she returned to the big screen in Elvira’s Haunted Hills. She’s flung back to Carpathia in 1851 as a dancer who dreams of success on stage and not TV. Elvira’s Haunted Hills: The Enhanced Edition dusts off the cobwebs of a choice bit of parody involving the Edgar Allen Poe movies made by Vincent Price and Roger Corman.

Elvira and her assistant Zou Zou (Mary Jo Smith) get run out of a Transylvanian town for lack of money to pay for the room. They’re making their way across Europe in hopes of her landing a slot in a Paris dancehall. She’s a Can Can dancer with cans a plenty. This talent brings her to the attention of Dr. Bradley Bradley (Scott Atkinson) who invites her along to Castle Hellsubus in the hills. The place is owned by Lord Vladimere Hellsubus (Rocky Horror‘s Richard O’Brien). He’s rather unnerved by his guest since she resembles Lady Elura Hellsubus, his missing wife. Will Elvira make it to Paris or will she end up sharing the fate of Lady Elura?

Elvira’s Haunted Hills succeeds in paying tribute to the Poe films. There are elements of House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, Tales of Terror, The Tomb of Ligeia and The Haunted Palace. The big finale revives the amazing title set from The Pit and the Pendulum. This is better than the Scary Movie series. If you’re having a Halloween weekend Poe-Corman-Price marathon, Elvira’s Haunted Hills ought to be the finale so that you can completely appreciate how the sets are duplicated. Elvira’s Haunted Hills remains funny without you knowing all the movies. But it’s in your best interest to see all the Poe-Corman-Price films. When it comes to the cinema of Elvira, Elvira’s Haunted Hills is so worth the hike.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer has the proper glow for a time lit by candles and torches. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. The full orchestra soars out of the speakers. The creaks and bumps come out of the corners of the speakers. The movie is subtitled in English.

Entertainment One has gone to the trouble of including a number of special features about Elvira’s Haunted Hills.

Theatrical Trailer (1:36) cuts this like a Corman-era horror film.

Transylvania Or Bust: Elvira & Company Tell All (27:37) lets Casandra Peterson admit she went independent after the studios weren’t in the mood for making another Elvira film. She put together a million dollars and went to Romania to make a film that looked like a multi-million dollar production. Director Sam Irvin got the gig after quoting Vincent Price’s big speech from The Pit and The Pendulum.

Making of Featurette (22:17) is the original bonus feature.

Interview with Richard O’Brien (6:09) lets the man who was Riff Raff talk about being in Transylvania.

Outtakes (0:54) has Elvira flub her lines while on the rack.

Photo Gallery (1:57) is a montage of stills from the production.

Audio Commentary features Cassandra Peterson, Sam Irvin, Mary Scheer, Mary Jo Smith and Scott Atkinson discussing their time in Transylvania making a horror film. Sam acts as moderator to the actors. They point out the references to the Vincent Price and Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe films. Atkinson points out the joy of getting his face stuck in Elvira’s bosom. Listen to the end to understand how the spirit of Phil Hartman guided the production.

Movie Macabre Sneak Peeks (11:19) has previews for the 12 episodes from the revived series out on DVD.

Elvira’s Haunted Hills: The Enhanced Edition shocks with its homage to the Edgar Allen Poe movies starring Vincent Price and directed by Roger Corman. The jokes flow like blood from a freshly severed head. Elvira proves her immortality by seeming fresh in 1851. Her teasing cleavage glows in the Transyvanian countryside. Richard O’Brien understand the Price persona in the role of Lord Hellsubus. This is a Halloween spoof masterpiece.

E One Entertainment presents Elvira’s Haunted Hills: The Enhanced Edition Directed by: Sam Irvin. Screenplay by: Cassandra Peterson & John Paragon. Starring: Casandra Peterson, Richard O’Brien, Mary Scheer, Scott Atkinson and Mary Jo Smith. Running Time: 90 minutes. Released on DVD: October 4, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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