Sunday, 19 February 2012

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark Locations

Let’s take a trip back to 1988 and visit the town featured in the motion picture, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. For a few weeks in January 1988, Midwest Street at Warner Bros Studios in Burbank was portrayed as Fallwell, Massachusetts.

If you’ve never seen the movie you’ve certainly seen the street before. It featured as Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls and before that it’s been seen in The Music Man, The Dukes of Hazzard, East of Eden and even home to killer bees in Irwin Allen’s The Swarm.

When her Great Aunt dies, famed horror hostess, Elvira, heads to the uptight New England town of Fallwell to claim her inheritance of a haunted house, a witches cookbook and a punk rock poodle. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark stars, Cassandra Peterson, W. Morgan Sheppard, Edie McClurg, Susan Kellerman and Daniel Greene.

Firstly, much of the movie takes place on Mid West Street at Warner Studios in Burbank, however a few establishing shots were filmed on location. One such view was a home (where the reading of the will takes place) seen in such films as Willard and Ben. Obviously using the exterior was a nod to those movies. Also a nice homage was on the Welcome To Fallwell sign, population 1313 (of course the number of the house on The Munsters). All the interiors of Elvira were filmed at Raleigh Studios on Melrose Ave.

Mid West Street seen in Elvira

(above and below) The same street in 2010

The building with the red frontage was seen as the Men's Hairdresser, the building with the grey roof was Patti's Tidy Bowl Lanes Bowling Alley, the building with the awning was "Cindy's" and the building behind the tree was the local cinema. The office of Vincent Talbot is to the far left.

After Elvira arrives in Fallwell she's directed to the Cosy Cot Motel. The Cosy Cot exterior still exists. It's actually the side of one of the house facades at Warner's. In fact, it's the rear of the home seen on the TV series Growing Pains.

The Cosy Cot exterior in 2010.

After the reading of Morgana Talbot's Will, Elvira is driven to her new inheritance. Elvira mistakenly thinks this is her new residence. Wrong! This exterior still remains exactly as looked in 1988.

The same home in 2010 (just with a different coat of paint)

The actual home Elvira does inherit still exists on the Warner Lot. It's now hidden by a huge tree in the front yard and I've taken many trips to Warner's to try and get a good photo of it. I'm still not happy with what I've got but you can see it does still resemble the house from the movie. Although the tower has been replaced.

Vincent Talbot exits this building to be confronted by Fallwell's resident busy-body, Chasity Piriah.

The same building in 2010 (the building to the right was seen as Fallwell's local cinema)

Elvira mixes up some 'pot luck' at the local fete with an hysterical outcome. I have to say that this scene is one of my all time favorites and I often quote dialogue from this, "remind you of anything?". This scene was filmed inside Warner's in their lagoon section. The area has been seen in ER and even Jurassic Park (where the T-Rex chases the jeep). Note the transportable gazebo that normally sits in the town square at Warner's.

The same building in the background is still there in 2010.

Poor Elvira is about to burnt at the stake (that's technically not a spoiler since the movie poster featured Elvira tied to the stake and Chastity Piriah holding a lit match).

Photo © Warner Bros Studio

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is a fun movie. It's made tongue-in-cheek and is currently available on DVD. Let's hope we can see a BluRay release with commentary, outatakes and a making of. It would also be nice if Elvira could return to Fallwell as a bonus feature.