By Donnie “Don. S” Sturges (Reader submission!)
What I’m Thankful For:
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
There’s a dying profession out there, one that folks in their thirties*, forties, and fifties used to enjoy back when we were growing up. It would provide us with hours upon hours of enjoyment on any given weekend between the hours of Friday night and Sunday evening. It would excite our innards and continue to inspire our interests years down the road. Once upon a time, the performers of this craft were a shining beacon of pure fun – but nowadays they are all but extinct. Their fire has gone out of the universe. You, my friend, are all that’s left of their religion.
No, I’m not talking about running the Pepsi Challenge booth or being the person responsible for keeping the hot side hot and the cool side cool on the McDLT. I’m alluding to something much more iconic (as if the title above didn’t already give it away). I’m, of course, referring to that oh-so-campy-yet-charming side-vocation that was often thrust upon weathermen and local affiliate workers who had lost a bet – horror show host. And despite the fact that this blip of a career tick has already gone way beyond its shelf life due to its obsolescence caused by modern media, there is still one dark soul out there who continues to keep this dying heart beating – Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.**
As a kid, I grew up with my own, personal horror show host hero – Dr. Paul Bearer. Starting in the sixties and running straight into the early nineties, nearly every major affiliate in every state had one. But it was Elvira who managed to take this almost underground phenomenon and turn it into a major spectacle nationwide. Elvira became a household name by the mid-eighties, thanks to her large… syndicated market. By 1988 she had her own starring role in her own self-titled film, and tons of merchandising deals. Elvira had become a brand in and of herself.
But, despite the shadow cast by her success on her frightful fellow scaremasters, horror show hosts in general got to enjoy a heightened visibility during the same time. The eighties saw a small resurgence in interest for the horror show host, as more children and teens living in the age of the latch-key kid were tuning in to these blocks of weekend wickedness on their baby sitters.
Unfortunately, that resurgence was short lived. As briefly as they came into the public eye, they vanished almost as quickly. A combination of changes were responsible – the growing availability and novelty of cable television was making it harder for local channels to be able to afford broadcast rights for the films that kept the pulse beating for their resident evils, and the viewership that kept the blood pumping on these shows were no longer staying home on weekends. By the mid-nineties, most horror show hosts were no more.
Save for one.
Though her popularity may have waned in the last twenty years, Elvira has still managed to remain in the public eye. Through reality shows, video game deals for use of her likeness, commercials, and a variety of still-viable merchandise, Elvira has managed to cheat death in pop culture much like her character’s immortality suggests. All of this has recently culminated in the resurrection of the show that put her on the map – Elvira’s Movie Macabre.
You’ve probably already read Alex’s much better article*** on the return of this evil eighties staple, as well as his follow up (which I can’t seem to find at the moment) on where you can find previous episodes**** My intent here isn’t to restate what has already been featured here at CHUD, but simply to pay my thanks to the one lurid lady who has managed to keep what I think is one of our best pieces of Americana alive. Or, undead. Or whatever. Because of her, we still have a number of other Masters of the Macabre out there – acts like Mr. Lobo, Karlos Borloff, and Count Gore de Vol. All of these merry madmen continue to hold up a grand and gruesome tradition of bringing horror to our front doors in fun and campy ways. And by Cthulhu, I love them all. But Elvira will always be the breast. I mean, best.
* Like me.
** Yep, it took me two paragraphs and a detached sentence to get to the point of the article that was already spelled out in the title. You’re really missing Devin now, aren’t ya?
*** I’m really looking forward to all of the awesomely nasty comments this article will generate. Don’t disappoint me.
**** Hint: It’s Hulu.
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