We all know that nothing says Halloween like Elvira, the iconic Mistress of the Dark. Hulu has celebrated the horror icon by premiering 13 Nights of Elvira, her new series featuring more of the cheesy B-movies and sassy commentary we grew up with. Premiering a new episode each day for 13 days leading to Halloween, October 31st is finally here and that means the full collection is now available to stream.
To celebrate Halloween, we recently talked to Elvira about TV, her unorthodox childhood, and of course, scary movies.
Hulu: We’ve been super excited about 13 Nights of Elvira. What is the creative process for coming up with quips?
Elvira: It’s all based around the movie. We watch the movie—my writer who mainly worked on this was John Paragon, the director of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”—he and I watch the movie separately and we just take notes and think of everything we can and John puts it all together.
How did you choose the movies?
Choosing the movies is really the hard part. It was the production company, Brainstorm, that got the movies for us. The Charles Band movies happened to be perfect for me because they’re not your A-list movies, but they’re still very entertaining. Things like Gingerdead Man—oh man, I loved doing that movie because I get to make fun of Gary Busey. Even Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death—the movie Bill Maher doesn’t want you to see—is actually a clever, funny movie standing alone. The writer for that movie went on to write Pretty Woman.
Have you talked to Bill Maher about that movie?
I doubt it is something that he is that proud of.
Have you ever had backlash from people that weren’t too happy with your take on certain movies?
I have had a few people get bent out of shape, but they come around eventually. Vincent Price, when he was alive—I made so much fun of him and he loooooved it. He thought it was brilliant. Most people that do these B-Movies kind of know what they’re going into. They know they’re not going into a Steven Spielberg film.
Are there any current movies that you’d love to tackle?
The problem with a lot of current movies like Sharknado is that the jokes are in the movie so you have a hard time making jokes about them because they’re intentionally bad. I have a hard time coming up with funny things about them. It’s the movies that really take themselves seriously that you could make the most fun of. I never got to do Plan 9 From Outer Space. It’s the ideal movie to make fun of because it was so incredibly naive and so serious about making a good film.
Going away from the horror genre, what types of films do you like?
I’m a big film buff and I’m kind of a documentary freak. The last movie I saw was Gone, Girl.
Do you ever watch these movies and do you automatically come up with Elvira-type commentary in your head while in a theater?
All the time. I always have to suppress myself talking back at the screen, I really do. I get so used to making loud smartass comments during movies. I almost have to gag myself. I do that by eating a ton of popcorn during the movie.
Elvira says a lot of filthy and off-colored jokes. Is that your personal sense of humor as well?
I do have a big line with Elvira that I don’t cross. I sort of think of it as PG because the jokes aren’t directly dirty. They’re double entendres because I think a lot kids do watch Elvira. That is kind of my sense of humor. Sexy and risqué more than “filthy and disgusting.” But for the Hulu show, we were able to be a little edgier.
How did you get to be in Ryan Adams’ new video?
We share the same accountant. Ryan called me one day to ask me about my pinball machine because he’s a huge pinball fanatic. I wasn’t that familiar with him, to tell you the truth. But a couple of months went by and he called me out of the blue and said, ‘Do you want to be in my music video? I have a new record coming out.’ I was also doing a record at the time called Two Big Pumpkins released by Third Man Records, Jack White’s record company. Ryan was so awesome—I shot that video for him and in exchange, he also shot footage for me for Two Big Pumpkins. I got a music video out of it. His of course is much cooler. Mine is more funny and perfect timing for Halloween. I love Ryan. He is adorable. We hope to be doing some other stuff to do together.
We were wondering what scares Elvira?
People always ask me that and I swear, not much scares me. I’m pretty scare-free.
Do you think that you could sleep in a haunted, abandoned hospital for one night?
I think I have done that. [Laughs.] I slept in a house that I used to own that was built in 1901. It was empty and kind of abandoned. I slept there and had like rats running all over the place and I was there alone. The house turned out to be haunted—you can watch it on an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories. I found there were a couple of suicides and murders in the house.
Have you been invited to a seance or have you experienced any paranormal phenomena?
I’ve been to many seances but the one time I did experience first-hand anything not normal was in that house, which was called Briar Cliff Manor. All kinds of things started happening the day I moved in…things moved, footsteps where there were none seen, apparitions of people—everything. I thought I was losing my mind, only my husband was seeing them also.
Is there one of the 13 Nights of Elvira movies that you enjoyed doing?
I love Oblivion because I got to be a flight attendant who drinks those little bottles of liquor then I get whacked-out drunk at the end. And I always like doing Night of the Living Dead. I could see that movie a hundred times. It’s brilliant and I’m happy to be hosting that one again.
What about TV? Do you follow any TV shows?
I have a couple that I’m hooked into right now and it’s The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. My comfort food TV is Twilight Zone. I LOVE Twilight Zone. I watch the same episodes over and over again. It’s kind of a childhood thing. Now, watching any episode makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
What are some of your favorite ones?
The one with Talking Tina.. [does voice]’Hi, my name is Talking Tina and I’m going to kill you!’ And did you ever see the one with the monster hanging from a plane? I still think about that whenever I’m on a plane. As a kid I also loved Addams Family. And Bewitched. Oh, and Gilligan’s Island. I don’t know where that comes from. I think it’s because I wanted to be Ginger.
It’s interesting that even as a child you were enraptured with funky horror things like The Addams Family. Things that actually scared children comforted you.
I always think that I’d be one of those people that cosplay all day long if I wasn’t Elvira. My family ran a costume shop so I was always wearing costumes. I’d go to school in costumes. People thought I was a freak. I grew up with Halloween being the biggest deal in our family because that’s when all of my relatives flew in from different parts of the country and helped at the costume shop. Then I got into Famous Monsters magazine and horror movies. While my sisters were playing with Barbies, I was playing with Frankenstein.
What would you cosplay as if you weren’t Elvira?
I would cosplay as a woman in a burka so I’d be totally comfortable. The one thing about my costume is that it’s really, really uncomfortable. The push-up bra, the super-tight waist, the giant hair–I would do exactly the opposite. A nun’s habit would maybe be better.