Shock Interview: Cassandra Peterson on Elvira’s Return to TV!

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13 nights of ElviraFor as long as there are horror and sci-fi movies of, shall we say, questionable quality there will be…Elvira. The Mistress of the Dark returns to the small screen on October 19th in a new Hulu series called 13 Nights of Elvira and this time, she’ll be poking fun at a new crop of films with her usual flavor of humor.

The titles this time include Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, Puppet Master, Demonic Toys, Hobgoblins, The Gingerdead Man, Dollman, Trancers, Oblivion, Shrunken Heads, Hideous, Evil Bong, Seedpeople and Night of the Living Dead.

As you may have noticed, Full Moon Features is represented in that library. To learn more about Elvira’s return and to delve into the film selections, I turned to Cassandra Peterson, the woman who has been bringing Elvira to life since the early-’80s.

In the discussion below, we touch on 13 Nights of Elvira, collaborating again with writer John Paragon again, the “business” of being a horror host and more. You’ll also find an exclusive clip from the series.


Ryan Turek: Congrats on the return. I’m excited about the fact that you have new material to play off of…

Cassandra Peterson: Yeah, I’m thrilled. It’s a little more edgy because Hulu allows you to do that. I’ve always been at places where I have to keep it a bit more PG.

Turek: In the trailer, you say something to the effect that Hulu didn’t want you to call these films stinkers, which made me laugh. But was that a genuine statement? Was there a specific mandate they gave you?

Peterson: No, that was totally a joke. It was a free-for-all. They were actually giving me stuff that I was opposed to saying. There were a few things they wanted in the promos and I was like, “Eh…no I won’t say that.” Elvira has a line that I don’t cross. With Elvira things are double entendre, as opposed to being on the money. So some of the things they wanted was like, “I’m not going to go there.” I’m not about offending people, it’s about keeping within the character for her.

Turek: You’re stuff was fun edgy then. How have you made this journey exciting for yourself as you slip back into character for these recent projects you’re working on?

Peterson: I have a great time with it. Most time it’s different movies and making fun of them. There’s those films that are so great they’re worth repeating like Night of the Living Dead but we always have fun. I’ve worked with a few writers. Honestly, it’s hard to find writers who get the Elvira voice. You can’t just call up a bunch of writers and have them at the house. It’s funny, I meet people and sometimes they get. With this, I’m happy to say I have John Paragon back who wrote with me for 21 years. John has been one of my closest friends and co-writers for a 100 years. It was fantastic having him back. I went for a little while with another writer I still work with, but John is back edgier and funnier. 

Cassandra Peterson - ElviraTurek: Did you have a hand in the selection of films or was Hulu integral in securing the rights to the library this time?

Peterson: There were producers Hulu was working with and they were the people who had to come up with a package of movies. Let me tell you, that was a nightmare. I watched more movies and damn trailers. Some movies I had the speed version of, a couple hundred movies just on fast forward. Then, that package we were working on fell out. We were supposed to have three months to do the show, we got it together in three weeks. Unbelievable. You wouldn’t think, when you see me just sitting on the couch talking about movies would take that long, it does. The writing process and getting everything together, it takes time. We did not have it. Poor Jim [Kunz] he had to blast through these and get through editing and music. It aged me about 100 years. But getting a movie package is the whole problem. If it was easy, I’d do it morning, noon and night. But it’s so difficult – they’re either too expensive or PD [public domain] and we’ve done them a 100 times. We were really lucky to get ahold of Charles Band’s movies. There are some great ones that are perfect for me.

Turek: Is there a particular sub-genre or theme of films that you would love to tackle?

Peterson: I would love to do more up-to-date sequels. Every kind of a horror sequel I can get my hands on and call it “Elvira’s Hosting Number 2.” [laughs] I think there are so many great bad sequels that just miss the mark, don’t get me started. Oh, it’d be so great. That’s the package I’d like to get ahold of. And these sequels are still a bazillion dollars to get ahold of…and they’re pieces of crap!

Turek: Have you done anything different for this upcoming series or is it business as usual?

Peterson: Nope, we went back to the couch. [laughs] Like the way I used to do it with a lot less set decorating. The last thing I did, the syndicated show I put more money into it and it was me paying the bill and I paid a fortune for those 26 wraparounds. This time, it’s a simple black background, candelabra and the couch. It’s always served me really well and it’s cheaper. But we’ve got some really funny stuff Jim was able to do with some video FX. He’s got stuff we weren’t able to do two years ago. 

Turek: What’s the highlight of the series for you? Any particular film?

Peterson: Hmm, I think Oblivion, because I play a stewardess and I start drinking those little bottles of liquor and by the end I’m just this freaking bombed out, trashed, can’t stand up… [laughs] That was great. Puppet Master was great because we were able to do some funny things with an Elvira puppet. And it’s a fun cool movie I’ve always loved anyway.

You can find Elvira on the web via her official site or on Twitter @TheRealElvira.

(Photo Credit: C.M. Wiggins/WENN.com)