Let's kick things up a notch with the first of our 31 Days of Halloween series of Scream Queen/"Gal" Fridays!
Cassandra Peterson is best known for her on-screen horror hostess character Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She originally gained fame hosting weekly horror flicks on Los Angeles TV station KHJ wearing a black, gothic, (cleavage-enhancing) gown. Her wickedly vampish appearance was offset by her quirky, quick-witted comedy skills and valley girl-type speech.
The movies featured on Elvira's Movie Macabre were always B-films (or lower). Elvira, reclining on a red Victorian couch, often interrupted the movies to lampoon the actors, the script, and the bad editing. Adopting the flippant tone of a California valley-girl, she brought a satirical, sarcastic edge to her commentary without ever being crass or mean-spirited, although she reveled in dropping risque double entendres as well as making frequent jokes about her eye-popping display of cleavage. Her campy humor, obvious sex appeal, and good-natured self-mockery endeared her to late-night movie viewers as her popularity soared. At the same time, Elvira was embraced as an icon of the waning 1980's punk movement as well as the emerging Goth subculture.
Her popularity reached its zenith with the release of the feature film, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (co-written by Peterson) in 1988; a second feature film in 2001 was called, Elvira's Haunted Hills. In 1992, CBS filmed the pilot episode for Elvira, a proposed sitcom with Peterson and actress Katherine Helmond as witches living in a small town. Network executives balked at the ribald humor and decided the series was too risque for television. The series was shelved and the pilot was never aired.