Monday, September 24, 2012

These Hills are Anything But Alive: "Elvira's Haunted Hills" (2002)

Once again, a 99 cent previewed movie purchase from my local video store proves to be disastrous.

Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) and her servant Zou Zou (Mary Jo Smith) are on their way to Paris for a musical revue when they are taken in at the Castle Hellsubus. Vladimere Hellsubus (Richard O'Brien, light years away from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show") is the cursed gentleman of the estate. His wife, Ema (Mary Scheer, light years away from "Mad TV") is a conniving woman who lives in the shadow of her husband's first wife Elura (also Peterson).

The Hellsubuses (Hellsubi?) also have a niece, Roxana (Heather Hopper), and the family doctor Bradley Bradley (Scott Atkinson) lurks around. The stable stud Adrian (Gabriel Andronache) takes a liking to Elvira immediately, and the feeling is mutual. And then for the next hour and a half, nothing happens...

Okay, the plot involves the Hellsubuses being a cursed family haunted by the spirit of Elura. Elvira and Zou Zou bumble their way through such familiar trappings as secret passages, dank dungeons, nightmares, and an awful script, also co-written by Peterson. By the time this supposed laugh riot mercifully finishes, you will not care, unless you have the willpower to shut this off immediately.

I used to like Peterson's Elvira. She was sexy, worldly, but with a terrible sense of humor that made her more endearing. Here, one lame joke follows another, to the point where it wasn't "bad in a good way," it was just bad. The Romanian sets are okay. Sam Irvin does his best with a limited budget. The cast is pretty desperate looking, often rolling their eyes at their lines...and I am not sure that was part of their characterization. There is one funny gag, where Bradley Bradley keeps grabbing Elvira's breasts in the coach on the way to the castle, but of course the film makers do not follow through with this one bright spot in this dismal comedy.

"Elvira's Haunted Hills" was probably meant as a comeback for the character Elvira. Instead, you will just reminisce about the old Mistress of the Dark. Skip it. (*) out of five stars.