Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Horror hostess Elvira inherits a mansion and causes a stir in a conservative New England town.

Rating: (out of 82 reviews)

List Price: $ 9.98

Price: $ 4.88


Jane Austen’s romantic masterpiece comes to DVD in a thrilling new production from the BBC and Masterpiece Theatre. Anne Elliot fell deeply in love with the handsome young naval officer Frederick Wentworth at the age of nineteen. But with neither fortune nor rank to recommend him, Anne was persuaded to break off her engagement. Eight years later, Anne has lived to regret her decision. She never stopped loving Wentworth, and when he returns from sea with a fortune and rank, she can only watch as every eligible young woman in the district falls at his feet. Jane Austen fans will delight in the sumptuous production design and first-rate acting in the 2007 Masterpiece Theatre version of Persuasion. Sally Hawkins is controlled and moving as Anne Elliot, the quietly heartbroken but sensible heroine who was “persuaded” (read: forced) to turn away her true love but still carries an unseen torch for him. Hawkins’s performance is genteel yet steely, and the quiet strength of the entire pr

Rating: (out of 300 reviews)

List Price: $ 19.98

Price: $ 11.99

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9 thoughts on “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

  1. The 1995 version of “PERSUASION” is no more faithful to Austen’s novel than the 2007 or the 1971 versions. When are people going to get over that illusion? Any of the three versions is fine with me.

  2. Review by Austen convert for Persuasion
    I had read the book many years ago and when I heard that there was to be a new Jane Austen series, I re-read it and the others and Persuasion took a very definite first place.

    As to this TV version, first time round I loved it and I have found, on repeat viewing only very recently, that it was even better than I remembered. I thoroughly enjoyed the settings, the music and particularly, the two lead performances which I think were thoroughly convincing. Of the supporting roles, I thought Anthony Head was magnificently arch and enjoyably shallow and horrible as Sir Walter, Sam Hazeldine bumbling, delightful and sweet (especially in his relations with Anne which are so kind and redolent, on his part, of what might have been) and I must be the only person who thought that Mary Musgrove was just exactly as she should have been! Peter White is a great favourite of mine so I loved his bluff yet gentle Admiral.

    The pacing was odd, I admit, presumably because of the time constraints and like everyone else, I would have liked all of the letter-not just because the written version is so beautiful but because I thought Rupert Penry-Jones’ voice-over was absolutely perfect. There’s a little subtle break in his voice half way through that gets me every time. The scene in the shop was also wonderful-he, in particular, showed so much by doing so little. There was a real feeling of strong feelings ruthlessly repressed because he was so afraid of being hurt again.

    I think Anne was beautifully played by Sally Hawkins and she looked just right. At the start she was obviously depressed but determined to live the best life she could. Then, at the end, she realised she had another chance to live the life she really wanted and gathered every ounce of strength of character she had to grab it with both hands. That was the symbolism of the running for me.

    As to RPJ looking too young and unweathered for a sea captain, in reality, that’s probably true but the whole point about Austen’s description of him is that he had lost none of what she called his (this may be in the wrong order!) “open, glowing, manly” look in the eight years he and Anne had been apart. And even her vain, looks-obsessed father who castigated all sailors because they supposedly looked rough, had to admit eventually that Captain Wentworth was an exception. RPJ had that in spades, as well as the depth of feeling for a role where so much is under the surface. I thought he was wonderful in it and that he and Sally Hawkins created something touching to the contemporary mind, yet absolutely in keeping with the original, of a relationship that nearly didn’t make it.

    As to “the kiss”, it wasn’t the chocolate-box romanticism that many accuse modern visual producions of overlaying on Austen-it was hesitant, full of both fear and longing, human, messy and completely believable. The sunlit ending at Kellynch, I think, was symbolic of pent-up longing fulfilled in every way, which is really the point of the entire book, and I loved it.

    I’ve even loved writing this about it!

  3. Review by egreetham for Persuasion
    Presenting a simplified version of a novel widely regarded as a masterpiece of English literature is not a meritless idea: though we understand that especially the development of character may be diminished or compromised, it may be worth it to get the essentials across. To present a simplified version of a novel which is an out-of-order, jumbled, misshapen, meaningless shadow of the original is a disservice to all who watch it. It neither helps us understand the infrastructure of the original novel, nor is it a worthwhile piece of art in itself. This production represents a total failure of engagement; it’s a piece of cotton candy. Watch the 1995 Amanda Root version, as close to perfection as a filmed version of an Austen novel has gotten so far.

    (Will no one ever cast a version of “Persuasion” in which the heroine’s sister Elizabeth really is beautiful?)

  4. Review by P. Larkin Hutton for Persuasion
    I’m sorry to say I found this version profoundly disappointing. “Persuasion” is my favorite Austen novel, and I sat down to watch it with high hopes. Fortunately we have the rich, subtle Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version the BBC made in 1995 to turn to. Not only is it more faithful to the novel, it is also a smoother story, less choppy and abrupt.

    I had a number of objections, but my chief one was the alteration to the character of Anne Elliot. She is supposed to be a woman of quiet moral strength whose family dismisses her as a nonentity. She courageously makes the best of a life that has disappointed her ever since she was persuaded to give up marrying the man of her choice years earlier. This version portrayed her as a poor, pathetic, meek creature who hides away in a corner and weeps whenever anyone hurts her feelings. My secondary objection was the kissing and wild running around the street. No respectable woman of the period would EVER have behaved that way in public. Who decided to do this? It almost seemed to be the work of someone who thought Austen’s restraint was too tame for 21st century tastes, but since it is bizarrely popular, let’s re-write it with more modern behavior.

  5. Review by Jenelle Hunter for Persuasion
    Ok, just to let you know, I’m just finishing a whole semester focusing on this book, so I feel like a bit of an authority! Anyway, the great thing about this movie, besides Wentworth being so smoking HOT (sorry Ciaran), is its appeal to Austen newbies: it simplifies and reorganizes the story so it makes sense in a screenplay. That said, if you’re an Austen purist, this movie is going to kill you!

    From the start, the details are rearranged, making me cringe at the lost subtleties from the novel. The very climax of the book, the all important conversation between Anne and Harville and Wentworth’s subsequent letter, are broken into separate sections of the movie and completely out of order. Sure it works, but its not right! I felt I was denied one of the greatest scenes of the book! Ugh!

    As for the actors, besides Wentworth being hot (I feel I must reiterate this) he wasn’t necessarily better or worse than Ciaran, just a different take. Anne was mixed: one minute I hated her, the next I loved her. She also brought a new aspect to the character and I appreciated it. Everybody else, though, was insignificant. I really felt like the 95 version made even the small characters round and dynamic, and in this movie, if you weren’t the hero or heroine you were blah. And whoa…way too much over-emoting.

    And what was said before was true: the end stinks. Its like Run Lola Run all over Bath, and hey look, Mrs. Smith isn’t crippled, so she can run alongside and explain all the junk about Mr. Elliott. Nice one guys. Yeah, so my last thought of the movie was that maybe I would at least get to see a satisfying kiss between Anne and Wentworth, and after the slow inching toward each other’s face with Anne chomping (literally!) at the bit, it was finally there. So that was nice.

    Ok, in summation, the 95 version is classic and timeless, but if you don’t know the story beforehand you’re going to get lost. This version is Persuasion for Dummies but it does have a few merits. Its worth watching, whatever your experience, but consider yourselves forewarned!

    P.S. If you’re hoping the new Mansfield Park is going to be better than the 99 version I think you will be disappointed. I could only stomach a few minutes before I HAD to turn it off. But then again, I kinda liked the 99 version, so who knows.

  6. Review by Marcy Gomez for Persuasion
    “Persuasion” is tied with “Pride & Prejudice” as my top favorite Jane Austen novel. I was looking forward to this version, after being a little disappointed with the 1995 adaptation (actors were a bit too old for their roles, I thought, but that’s another review).

    While “Northanger Abbey” is a story of young love, “Persuasion” is a story of love lost. Anne Eliott was once engaged to Frederick Wentworth but has had to give up the engagement due to the persuasion of her friend Lady Russell. Anne is the daughter of a baronet and Frederick is a young lieutenant with little prospects and was deemed by her friends and family as not worthy enough to marry Anne. Fast forward to 7 or so years later, and Anne’s family is in dire circumstances. Her family has to move from their large country estate to Bath in an effort to retrench and avoid further debt. Frederick returns to England as a wealthy and highly eligible naval captain and his and Anne’s paths meet again. Frederick is pursued by 2 of Anne’s younger sisters-in-law while Anne is left to wonder what might have been. After a stressful visit to Lyme, Frederick and Anne’s paths briefly separate. Anne moves to Bath where she is pursued by her cousin William Eliott and she crosses paths with Frederick again. Will love triumph the second time around?

    Whether you agree or disagree with my assessment of the 1995 version starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, I think you will find that Rupert Penry-Jones and Sally Hawkins are wonderful in their roles as Frederick Wentworth and Anne Eliott. Sally Hawkins – unknown to me until now – gives a soul-stirring and endearing performance as Jane Austen’s long suffering heroine. Rupert Penry-Jones is aptly dashing and handsome, though perhaps a little bland, as Frederick (I’d take him over Ciaran Hinds any day). The supporting cast is solid – with a few exceptions – and the screenplay, up until the last 10 minutes, stays true to the tone and spirit of the book. The production values, costumes and locations are excellent. This scores points for actually filming in Bath and Lyme (actual locations from the book). Another high note is Martin Phipps (who also composed the amazing score of BBC’s “North & South) who delivers yet another stirring score.

    The reasons for the 4 stars are as follows (warning, spoilers!):

    a) Casting – I absolutely detest Amanda Hale as Mary Musgrove. She is annoying and stands out in a bad way from the rest of the cast. Julia Davis is also off as Elizabeth Eliott and looks more like Anne’s wicked stepmom than her older (by 2 years) sister. Elizabeth is supposed to be beautiful and elegant, and Julia Davis is nowhere near this. Surely there are more than enough talented British actresses who could have played these roles.

    b) Changes – Some long-time fans will be a little irritated with the changes made to famous scenes from the book. This is where the 1995 version triumphs over this version. While the Amanda Root version remained faithful to the book, this version strayed in some of the vital scenes such as the dialogue between Captain Harville and Anne on woman’s constancy; and the scene where Frederick writes a letter to Anne.

    c) The last 10 minutes – where Anne runs around Bath like a headless turkey – almost completely ruined it for me. Whoever thought of sending a docile, elegant, poised, upper-class lady like Anne to run around town like a servant girl is beyond me. The adaptation would have been outstanding except for this miscalculation. I am not a purist, but there is just so much a long-time Jane Austen fan can take and this one crossed the line for me.

    All in all, however, I give it 4 stars for Sally, Rupert, most of the supporting cast, Bath, the score and the first 80 minutes. It goes along swimmingly up until the climax, at which point I have to fast forward to skip the part I detest. A good and solid adaptation, but “Northanger Abbey” starring JJ Feild and Felicity Jones gets my vote as my favorite of the recent Jane Austen adaptations.

  7. Review by Robin Orlowski for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
    Sure, the plot heavily relies on raunch and horror and at times comes across like The Addams Family meets Melrose Place, but Elvira emerges as an unlikely heroine for women in this film. While much of her success has been written as stemming from her physical endowments, and this film also highlights them, it also focuses on her resourcefullness and her willingness to stand up for what she honestly believes in. Passivity is not in her genes either as she displays her (admirable) attitude when faced with judgemental and bigoted people or defends herself against lecherous men who can’t keep their hands to themselves. There is no way she is going to let the town bigots rain on her parade and she is going to do her own thing regardless of whatever they want. Elvira even makes it a point to stand up for the rights of the repressed kids in the town and takes the granddaughter of a motel owner under her wing.Finally, the link to her mother Davana and voice urging her to “use the power” to free herself from danger speaks of women’s history, however jumbled. Elvira is really one link in a long string of the original powerful and independent woman–the witch!! Sure, it’s not the most realistic plot in the world, but Ms. Peterson’s alter ego is a liberated woman who does not take garbage from any other character in the film and makes it clear that she is not subservient to men.

  8. Review by Peter Saenz for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
    Dispite what Leonard Maltin has to say about this film, Elvira’s huge, uh, ratings proves that she is definately no slouch when it comes to making a great comedy. Weither you are young or old, Elvira is one person you just gotta love. A great send-up to old horror movies, and a few recent pop-culture favorites, this movie doesn’t miss a beat. From Elvira’s failed attempt at cooking to her standing ovulation Flashdance number, you just have to laugh. Starring as a bored Horror Hostess on a local syndicated network, Elvira soon discovers that she has an inheritance from a long lost aunt. She leaves her crummy job and sets out to find her fortune. Little does she know she’s inherited more than she’s bargained for. Like the knowledge that she’s decended from a major mata-physical celebrity! From then on she must contend with an evil sorcerous uncle, a shy hunky local, a jealous girl named Patty and a nosey gossip who’s catty, all while trying to keep up that gorgeous do! (Try saying THAT three times fast.) Watch this movie and you’ll agree, Elvira is just too funny for words.

  9. Review by Byron Kolln for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
    Cassandra Peterson stars as everyone’s favourite campy horror hostess Elvira, in her debut starring film ELVIRA MISTRESS OF THE DARK. Filled with the kind of cornball fun that only she can provide, the movie is a laugh-a-minute campfest.

    Fired from her late-night Public Access television show, Elvira gets another chance at fame and fortune when her long-lost Great Aunt Morgana dies and leaves her as the sole heir of the will. It’s off to the small G-rated town of Falwell (get it?!), where Elvira soon finds herself a duck out of water in a community full of dim-witted yokels, led by Chastity Pariah (Edie McClurg).

    Can Elvira manage to save her skin–before the town morality leaders decide to burn her as a witch? And what the heck was the “secret ingrediant” in Elvira’s casserole?!

    ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK is full of the same fun and campy good humour that marked her appearances hosting “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” on television. She has an instantly appealing comedy style and holds the entire film together with her zany character. The cast also includes William Morgan Shepperd, Susan Kellerman, Jeff Conaway, Daniel Greene and Pat Crawford-Brown.

    The DVD from Anchor Bay includes a great new anamorphic print (with 5.1 Chace Digital sound mix); plus bonus Cassandra Peterson bio pages and trailers.

    (Single-sided, single-layer disc).

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