EXCLUSIVE: Cassandra Peterson Talks Elvira's Movie Macabre
The first two installments of Elvira's new series featuring The Satanic Rites of Dracula and Night of the Living Dead arrive Tuesday, June 14th
Elvira is not just the Mistress of the Dark. She is an institution unto herself, and one of the few remaining late night horror hosts spooking around the graveyard that is antenna television. A horror mainstay throughout the 80s and 90s, Cassandra Peterson, the indelible woman behind the Elvira persona, re-launched her brand with an all-new midnight showcase that airs on various local stations across the country. Now, each episode from that series is set to hit DVD, starting with Elvira's Movie Macabre: Night of Living Dead and Elvira's Movie Macabre: Satanic Rites of Dracula this Tuesday, June 14th. The rest of the first season will arrive soon there after.
We recently caught up with the icon herself, Cassandra Peterson, to chat about Elvira's latest endevors, her run for President of the United States, and why The Satanic Rites of Dracula sucks so hard. Our conversation is below:
I watched The Satanic Rites of Dracula first yesterday...
Cassandra Peterson: Ugh! Everyone keeps watching that one...
It's weird for a DVD release, because Elvira obviously does not like this movie. If you were coming to it late at night on TV, sure, maybe there is nothing else on and you stick it out. But here, Elvira's clearly telling me that I'm a loser for watching this movie on my own accord, that I should rip it from my player and throw it in the trash. Talk about impounding buyer's remorse...
Cassandra Peterson: The good thing about DVD is that you have the option to fast forward. Out of all the movies, The Satanic Rites of Dracula is probably the slowest moving, least plot-having movie that I have. Honest to God. There is another one, Manos: The Hands of ate, which is coming down the pipe. But it is so bad and simple that it's hilarious. The Satanic Rites of Dracula? We have that because we tried to get color films. And the color films from the 70s are just not like the black and whites from earlier. I'd say, watch Night of the Living Dead. Its fantastic. I love that movie, or course. I don't know. I wish I could just get rid of The Satanic Rites of Dracula, and do it alone. But I have to have something to comment on. Eh, what can I do?
How do you coordinate your hosting duties on something like The Satanic Rites? You'd like to just interrupt the whole thing, but you obviously can't. Where do you decide to drop in and break the boredom? You're almost like a surrogate girlfriend who is constantly telling me my DVD choice sucks...I actually made it through the whole movie. Without you there, I may not have...
Cassandra Peterson: Its so weird that everyone keeps watching The Satanic Rites of Dracula! If you get a chance, please watch Night of the Living Dead or The Werewolf of Washington. Which I love! Those have a lot more going for them to make comedy from. Check those out, please! Don't judge the whole show on The Satanic Rites. Its unfortunate that movie is on one of the first DVDs being release. On that note, though, I still want to say, what I do is watch the movie about a thousand times, then I come up with jokes while I am watching it. Unfortunatly, The Satanic Rites didn't have that much fodder for jokes.
I did watch the Werewolf of Washington. I've been watching you since I was a little kid, so I have seen most of these movies. The Werewolf, though? I hadn't seen it before this DVD, and it's a weird trip. I could watch this without Elvira's more than welcome presence. Its one of those crazy cult movies, where you can't believe the heights of ludicrous nonsense they eventually reach...
Cassandra Peterson: Oh, yeah, definitely. It is one of my favorite old movies. With Dean Stockwell, its insane. It is a take off on Watergate. In this version of it, I did a whole Sarah Palin thing, and it came out pretty damn funny...}
You certainly give Tina Fey a run for her money. I was like, "Wow, this is an incredible impersonation of Palin..."
Cassandra Peterson: I scared myself, actually. I came out looking so much like her. It was creepy. It was Sarah Palin with cleavage. That is what everyone wants. Hopefully people will have the good sense to vote for Elvira, and not for Sarah Palin.
Will Elvira be running for President this time around?
Cassandra Peterson: You never know. I keep running. I don't ever get up near the top. The way things are going, I think I have a really good chance this time around. If I was up against Cheryl Bachman and Sarah Palin, I think I could win hands down.
What is your platform? How would Elvira run the State?
Cassandra Peterson: She would be fantastic! How would Elvira run the state of California? Well, there isn't much I could do that is worse than what Arnold Schwarzenegger has done. Running it into the damn ground. If I was running the whole nation? I would have free Netflix movies for everyone. (Laughs) I would concentrate more on the film aspect of it. And since we do have a lot of film stars running for president, I think I would fit in. I would pretty much give everything away for free, like I do now.
I'm glad Movie Macabre is on DVD now, because I spent the last two years in Tennessee...
Cassandra Peterson: Oh, yeah? Where?
I was in East Nashville...
Oh, yes. I have been by his house. That place is crazy. It is so beautiful, with the big red chimney...
Cassandra Peterson: Its awesome. I love that house. I swear, out of all the houses I have seen in Nashville, I love his the best. If I were out buying a house in Nashville, that is the one I would have picked. It's really awesome. He is a great guy. I have been out to visit him a couple of times. I love Nashville, I have always had a great time there.
Yeah, but out in Nashville, you can't find Elvira's Movie Macabre. It's not on DirecTv. Without a digital antenna, it's impossible to watch...
Cassandra Peterson: That is a problem. I am so glad my movies are in syndication, but, oh, my God! Finding the damn show has been really difficult for people. I do have a list of stations on Elvira.com. It shows when and where it plays, but even then, depending on your cable provider, it's a different number. It's really difficult. I have had so many complaints from fans, "I want to watch your show but I can't find it!" That is a bummer. But finally, it's on DVD! Leaning right into that segue, there, now people will be sure to find it. I am really happy about that. I want to mention that on DVD, there will be six episodes that have not been seen. They will be extras coming out towards the end. They are six episodes that we did not air in syndication. Because we decided to cut it down to twenty. I think that will be a big boost for people to see those. There were some really good movies in there too. Some of my favorite movies. The great Wasp Woman, which I love. I love The Wasp Woman! And The Wild Women of Wongo. Those are two of my all-time favorite movies. The Killer Shrews, which I also love! I think those are some really premium ones. Forget that damn Satanic Rites!
Wow! You really don't like that movie. How does that end up being the first thing released?
Cassandra Peterson: They urged us to have color movies. Eh, you know? Color is nice. I guess, if you are less than thirty years old, you want to see color. I like black and white. I like the whole sensibility of the black and white. I like the time those movies were made. In the 50s and 60s. Because there were giant leeches, and killer shrews, and stuff like that. You get into the late 60s and early 70s, with color, and the movies just started to suck. For suck's sake. That's a new thing. I just made that up! But these movies were slow plodding, no imagination...They didn't have that great naivety, which I loved about seeing those old black and white movies. They were made seriously. But they are so bad, they become, to me any ways, hugely entertaining. When you get into the 70s, its all about killing people and...Blech! Its all reality based.
That is especially true nowadays, with the torture porn and the slasher movies...
Cassandra Peterson: Oh, god! It is so hard nowadays to find a movie that I like. I don't mind blood and gore. But I mind when its a slasher film, and its some guy looking for women. I am opposed to that kind of thing. Blood and gore? I love that kind of thing. Even Herschell Gordon Lewis. He was the king of gore. I love his stuff. His is about killing women, and that kind of stuff. But his is so campy, and bad. The bad effects. It just doesn't get you the way these new ones do. They look incredibly realistic, and they have a lot of torture involved. Ick! I can't watch that stuff.
Did you get a chance to see Rare Exports?
Cassandra Peterson: I did not.
That's a great horror movie. It's almost a kid's movie, from Norway. It's about how they excavate Santa Clause and he is this evil demon. But its not a slasher movie, its like a good old timey monster movie...
Cassandra Peterson: You're kidding! I need Christmas stuff. All I have is Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Its one of the few Christmas movies I can use. There is another one, and again, it goes into The Satanic Rites territory. It's in color. Its Silent Night, Bloody Night. That is the other Christmas movie that I pull out, and it's pretty awful. Ugh. Its not as bad as The Satanic Rites, I'll tell you that. It is a very bizarre movie. It has a little bit more going for it than The Satanic Rites. But everything does. (Laughs) I do want to check out (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale). Horror, for me, has to involve some sort of fantasy. Horror is something that is in your dreams or your nightmares. It's not something where you can go into the street and actually run into this...
So you're not a fan of the torture porn movies?
Cassandra Peterson: Ugh! I would rather show my dad and mom a porno movie, honest to God, rather than have them watch one of those movies!
No doubt. Now, Silent Night, Bloody Night...Is that one of the films that will be released in this current series?
Cassandra Peterson: No. We had our Christmas show this time, and it was Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Which we have a fantastic new copy of. I had it remastered, and the color is more saturated. It looks amazing. It is one of the best looking movies that I have. We had to have everything remastered. I lot of these films are dark, and they have bad sound. Even though you clean it up, there is only so much you can do.
What about your reoccurring characters? In Werewolf of Washington, we get to see The Breather. Who else is showing up throughout this DVD run?
Cassandra Peterson: The Breather is the main one that pops in. I did have Auntie Virus. She was my old Aunt. She passed away, or I would definitely have her in there. She was brilliant. The Breather is my only reoccurring character. I do have a lot of characters on my DVDs. I had a lot of friends come on. Jack White, for example, is on there. He is the rim shot gut. I had Peaches Christ, who is one of the most preeminent drag queens in America, come on as the Mary DeKay lady, who was selling me make-up door-to-door. I also have Thomas Dekker, a really brilliant kid. He starred with me in All About Evil. That was a film I did a couple of years ago as myself. He is also the star of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the new one that just came out. He is playing my son. My homicidal, maniac, schizophrenic son. There are a lot of guest stars. I love the idea of someone coming in to do a bit on the show. Its so much more fun than me just sitting on the couch all the time. Which I have a good time doing, too. But its fun to add some fresh blood in there.
Is this series going to continue? Or are you done after these twenty-six episodes hit DVD?
Cassandra Peterson: I am continuing to do more. Hopefully, I will still be in syndication. I am talking about cutting them down to an hour. So that you have a really edited version of the movie. I am trying my best to get it on cable, for the simple fact that people will be able to watch it on cable. Which would be nice!
It would be nice, because I love watching this show late at night. I miss the late night horror host. We don't see that anymore. It's a dying art...
Cassandra Peterson: It is. It's sad. A few have started to pop up. But it's hard to get these movies for a reasonable price. Most of the ones I'd love to have are owned by someone like Universal or Sony. You cannot get them for any price you'd be able to do a TV show like this for. That is what's killing the horror host.
Is there enough viral stuff out there, and independently shot horror movies that you could put on? Like a horror version of Tosh.0?
Cassandra Peterson: That is something that is not only crossing my mind, it's something I am working on, too. I am trying to get people to submit their movies. I will make fun of them, but I will also show them. I will get PR for them, and movies for me. It is something I have really been talking about. Absolutely. I would love to do something like Tosh.0, where I host internet clips. I did host Talk Soup, which is similar. I love doing that, making fun of video clips on the internet. This is something I have been talking over with people.
It seems like there are a lot of low budget horror movies floating around that don't have distribution, that could fit into that mold...
Cassandra Peterson: Oh, yeah. The movie that I did, All About Evil, it has Thomas Dekker, and Mink Stole, Ashley Fink. It was directed by Peaches Christ, again, this drag queen whom I am friends with. It is a really cool movie. You'd like it. It's kind of sick. There is some torture in it. But, again, if it's campy, it's okay. If its too realistic, and sick, its not okay. This movie has a little bit of that going on, but in a very campy way. People laugh at the things that happen. They're not grossed out. I have seen it at screenings a few times, and people are bursting out with laughter during these scenes. That's the difference for me, if you know what I mean.
Humor always helps elevate some of that pain, and a lot of these new movies have no humor in them whatsoever.
Cassandra Peterson: Noooo! There is no humor, and that makes a big difference. I love gore and blood as much as the next person. It's all in how it's executed.
Where are your two feature films? They haven't been available for awhile on DVD...
Cassandra Peterson: I am happy to say that Elvira's Haunted Hillsis coming out again this October. They are re-releasing it through the same people that are doing my DVDs right now. Entertainment One. And I am thrilled. It kind of ran its course. We were on the verge of getting another deal for it to be distributed. I got it. So, it will be coming back out in October. It will be ten years. So we are trying to put some bonus material with it. There will be new stuff. A new cover, new everything. Hopefully it will get a whole new audience.
Is there ever talk about doing another Elvira movie?
Cassandra Peterson: I have a movie I am trying to sell. Its an animated feature, and its really difficult to try and sell it. If you think live action is hard to sell, you should try animation. That is what I have been trying to do, and I haven't been concentrating on a live action film because I am trying to get it out there on TV. That's enough of a distraction. It took my whole damn life just to get this stuff done! I would love to do another movie, but it's been an uphill battle. Can you do me a favor? I had a Facebook page for a million years. I had hundreds of thousands of fans on there. And my Facebook page disappeared about a month ago. Its just done. No one can find it. So I have to start a whole new page. I am desperate to get people to sign up as friends, because it looks like I was just invented last week. If you could direct people to Facebook: Elvira Mistress of the Dark Official. It is the one that says official, because there are a lot of Elvira's on Facebook.
How does a Facebook profile just disappear?
Cassandra Peterson: I don't know. I have to tell you, I went crazy when that happened. We've contacted Facebook, and we've spoken to people. They have no idea what happened. They're like, "Eh, whatever!"
Its weird because if you try to get off of Facebook, they make you write a three page essay about your reasons for leaving. They don't make it easy to get a page off of there.
Cassandra Peterson: Oh, I know. Believe me! We have gone through all sort of things with them over the years. One minute its there, the next its gone. Today, Facebook accounts for a lot. Now, you click on Elvira's official page, and its like, "Oh, you have eleven thousand people. Snore." I am also on Twitter, and I have a new website at Elvira.com. It has been revamped. And we will have the online store up and running in about two weeks. We are redoing the whole thing!