ELVIRAS HAUNTED HILLS
Elvira's Haunted Hills was a long-awaited follow-up to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. As Cassandra Peterson herself recounts in the dvd making of section, it was a project she and her producing team had touted for a number of years following Mistress of the Dark but had been unable to find any backers. After thirteen years, they were able to bring together a miniscule budget, mostly floated by Peterson herself, and shot the film on the cheap in Romania.
Cassandra Peterson is a B horror movie fan. Much more so than Mistress of the Dark was, Elvira's Haunted Hills has been construed as a homage to horror movies of yore in particular the Roger Corman-Vincent Price Edgar Allan Poe films of the 1960s. An overacting Richard OBriens is clearly modelled on Vincent Prices Roderick Usher from The House of Usher (1960) at one point he complains My eyes are tormented by all but the faintest of light, which gets the response from Elvira Ahh, I see youve got a hangover too, huh and there are various other plot homages about his sister being buried alive. At the end, the castle sinks down into the pit as in the climax of The House of Usher but in this case splits in two a la the Titanic in Titanic (1997) in a very cheap digital effect whereupon Elvira is given cause to wonder: Thats incredible ... that we could afford such a crappy effect. There are aspects taken from the other Corman Poe films, in particular the use of the reincarnated wife plot from The Tomb of Ligeia (1964) with Richard OBrien decked out in the same square sunglasses that Vincent Price sported in that film. Everything naturally climaxes with Elvira tied up under a pendulum a la Pit and the Pendulum (1961). The film also stages the bricking up alive from Poes story The Cask of Amontillado (1846) but here it becomes a Keystone Kops routine.
Elvira engages her penchant for atrocious puns and cheesy double entendres. The bumpy coachride throws Scott Atkinson across to land with his face buried in her cleavage Lucky for you I come equipped with my own airbags, she quips. Or The village people say the castle is evil, Ahhh, who listens to The Village People anymore? Not to mention:- Lord Hellsubus has not been feeling himself, Too bad might relieve some of that tension. One of the most amusing running gags throughout the film is Mary Jo Smiths French maid who is constantly producing items out of her ample cleavage, which range from everything from hand mirrors to blood sausages and Elviras fluffy slippers. On the minus side, Cassandra Peterson, who was aged fifty when she made the film, is starting to show her age and her routine is starting ever so slightly to seem stale. Delivered amid the often clearly impoverished surroundings, it all has the feel of a former big-name comic reduced to doing dinner theatre in the boondocks. Far more so than in Mistress of the Dark, Elvira's Haunted Hills seems reliant on slapstick routines. Elvira does a rather silly burlesque routine that is nowhere near a patch on the tassel twirling sequence she did in Mistress of the Dark, the climax of which is her throwing up her dress and showing her ass to the audience, revealing she is wearing a pair of bloomers that say Applause.
Sam Irvin has been a regular B-budget director. His first genre film was Guilty as Charged (1992) about a vigilante judge who builds a private electric chair and he went onto make a handful of production for Charles and Albert Band Oblivion (1994), Magic Island (1995), Oblivion 2: Backlash (1996) as well as one or two other oddities like the eccentric thriller Roses Are Dead/Eyes of a Stranger (1993) and the asteroid collision film Deadly Skies (2006). He has also acted as producer of When Time Expires (1997), Gods and Monsters (1998), The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human (1998), Bolt Neck/Big Monster on Campus (1999) and Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy (2000).