Elvira’s Movie Macabre DVD

From 1982-1993 Cassandra Peterson appeared each week as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark , hosting an wide range of horror films on “Elvira’s Movie Macabre”, her own syndicated show. From classics to crap, she covered almost all off-shoots of the genre over the course of 300+ episodes. Hosted horror films have a long history on television, from Zacherly The Cool Ghoul in NY/NJ to USA Up All Night, with most of them having been produced on a local basis beginning in the late 1950’s. Unfortunately, as local TV stations were gobbled up by larger affiliates, and with the decline of truly local broadcasting, most of these hosted horror shows petered out in the early 1990’s. The exception, of course, being Mystery Science Theater 3000, which incorporated comedy directly into the movies.

Unlike the intrusive nature of “MST3K” Elvira, and those that came before her, hosted the films by offering witty, and often very corny, commentary before and right after the commercials breaks. This experience for horror fans is, unfortunately, long gone and due to the nature of local and syndicated broadcasting (not well know for preserving their material) many of these hosted shows remain as nothing more than old TV signals headed for Alpha Centauri.

So, the simple fact that any of episode of “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” exist is a miracle unto itself. Thank the horror gods that the Mistress of the Dark retained rights to her show and archived all the original movie wrap-around herself.

Joining forces with Cassandra Peterson, Shout Factory has been slowly releasing the “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” DVDs. The last set came out several years ago, and this October they’ve released another set of 6 episodes. This series is coming out on DVD exceptionally slow because of the intricacies involved in securing the rights to the movies originally shown on “Movie Macabre”. However, for horror fans that loved watching Elvira’s show each week, or for those younger horror fans who might not have experienced the a real “hosted horror” show these DVD are a real treat.

This release is 6 movies spread out over 3 DVDs, all sold separately and include the films, “Blue Sunshine”, “Monsteroid”, “Gamera”, “They Came From Beyond Space”, “The House That Screamed”, and “Maneater of Hydra”. Most of these are great cheese ball, low-budget horror, however, “Blue Sunshine” is an exceptional film.

The only drawback to these DVDs are the films, and it’s mostly because the prints that Shout Factory has secured aren’t in the best of shape, and it doesn’t look like they really bothered to enhance them at all. The print of “Monstroid” is in particuarly bad shape. And you know what? I don’t care. These DVDs are meant to be a nostalgia trip. When movies like this aired on USA Up All Night, or late night on WPIX here in NY they weren’t exactly HD-quality, in widescreen with meticulous color correction. They looked like the crap movies they were, and this writer gets a little thrill out of watching these movies they same way he remembers them. And to be able to watch them with Elvira makes the experience all the more, er, shall we say “titillating”.

Pick one or two of these sets up, at the very least they’ll make great background material for your upcoming Halloween party!

-Mike Cucinotta


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