I was watching Elvira Mistress of the Dark again the other day. I was 10 when Elvira came out and I’m pretty sure I watched it in the theater. Now, I’ve often looked back on movies I saw as a kid and thought “gee, I was probably too young for that”. Regardless, I watched this with my daughter a couple of years ago, she must have been 9 at the time, because she liked kitschy movies at the time like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice. But there was nothing really terrible about Elvira that I remembered. (Aside from the very end when we see part of her Vegas show. That’s where I drew the line and shut the movie off before it came on). She wasn’t going to understand all he sex jokes and I didn’t want to ban a movie based on huge breasts.
And here’s the difference a few years can make because I was watching it again the other day as just background noise while I worked on something else when I noticed something I’d never really noticed before. Elvira is an inspiring character.
At the very beginning of the movie after finishing her show the new station big wig starts hitting on her and she does the usual turn down and when the guy persists and makes a grab for her she knocks him flat on his ass at the cost of her job. Damn straight. She does this constantly through the movie, making sure any unwanted attention from a man or anyone treating her badly is met with a let down as polite as the other person’s opening line. Any continued harassment has her bringing out larger guns (pun intended).
Now the underlining motivation for her in the movie is that she wants to put on a show in Las Vegas. Having lost her job she hopes she’ll get money from an inheritance. It’s a constant struggle for her in this small town where most people are out to get her basically because they don’t like the way she looks. The realtor bails on her when she won’t sleep with him. No one will give her a job. The townspeople try to murder her, and she just fights all the way through with little more than her will and her wit.
Now, we all know Elvira wears clothing that remain on her body by defying the laws of physics. It’s a movie, and my daughter gets the difference of stage wear versus street wear. I’m in the there’s a time and a place camp when it comes to clothing, and this is just Elvira’s schtick. Actresses showing off their boobs is all over TV. I’m not banning Elvira for her low cut dress when red carpet actresses are showing more skin. It makes no sense.
I guess my overall point is, and I’m not sure how watching this movie as a kid may have effected me, Elvira’s an independent woman who’s ambitious, witty, unashamed of her body, unashamed of her sexual desires, and unafraid of standing up for herself when others disrespect her. Fuck yeah. I aspire to embody all of those traits.