‘Elvira Goes To Hell’: The Queen of Halloween Discusses Her Unproduced Film Projects [Exclusive]
In celebration of Halloween, I had the honor of sitting down and interviewing Cassandra Peterson, AKA Elvira. Together we discussed her cinematic history as well as her infamous struggles getting projects greenlit in an industry that doesn’t really know what to make of her.
In our conversation, Elvira shares fascinating insight into some of her unproduced projects, like Elvira Goes to Hell and even an Edward Scissorhands-style animated feature. But before we get to the goods, we unpack why she may have faced pushback along the way. The issues with development, it seems, started with the release of her first film Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
“After a few years of being Elvira on TV, I finally got this film project underway with NBC,” she tells me. “But the company distributing it went bankrupt two days after my film was released. And that caused the whole thing to be pulled from theaters. And then my box office numbers were not good, and I couldn’t get another movie made for the life of me because, basically, studios look at the numbers. How well did you do in your last movie? If you did phenomenal, then they’d do another movie … if you did not so phenomenal, they don’t do another movie.”
Running up those hills
But Cassandra Peterson doesn’t seem like the type of person to give up easily. Turns out, that’s when she took matters into her own hands.
“For years and years and years, my writing partner, John Paragon, and I wrote movies and submitted them and took them to every single studio and production company there was and couldn’t get another movie made for the life of me. Finally, I decided to make my own movie while I was still young enough to do it and used my own money. We shot it in Romania because you could get a lot more bang for your buck over there. And I did it on my own with Elvira’s Haunted Hills,” she shares.
“I also think part of it had to do with being a woman. I don’t mean to sound like sour grapes, but being a woman and being a sexy woman … I’m trying to get a movie made, and meanwhile, Ernest Verne was getting one movie made after another. And I couldn’t get anything going at all. So I still look back on it with a little bit of bitterness, I’d say.”
Elvira goes to hell
And while I don’t want to linger on a sore subject, I have to ask, of all the unproduced projects, which did she most want to make?
“I had a ton of them that were so awesome. I had this one called Elvira Goes to Hell, and it was like a buddy picture, and I really liked that one. It was really funny. It revolved around Halloween a little bit more and I would’ve gone more in the vein of Mistress of the Dark. It was kind of loosely based, honestly, on the Ernest Verne movies. Ernest Goes to the Mall, Ernest Goes to the Bathroom, whatever he does. It was like, ‘Hey, that’s working for him. Maybe it’ll work for me.’ Unfortunately, it didn’t. But I thought, well, where does Elvira have to go? To hell, obviously. Or maybe prison.”
Origins of the Halloween Queen
Next comes the topic of the long-rumored Elvira animated project, which she envisions as a fabulous Edward Scissorhands-esque Halloween origins story.
“I want to do an animated movie that is almost like a Disney film that really explores where the character of Elvira came from, what she does, how she’s tied into the holiday of Halloween, which is becoming such a big thing, not just in the US but worldwide. In a fantasy way, the film kind of starts out inventing the character of Elvira, kind of like the vibe of maybe Edward Scissorhands almost, which I think of as a beautiful fairytale,” she shares candidly.
“And I think that could be done with the Elvira character to explain why and what her connection is with Halloween. So there, I just blew that whole thing! That is what we came up with what we wrote, and what I really would love to do for an animated movie.“
For my full conversation with the Halloween Queen, check out today’s very special episode of Development Hell right here on the Dread Podcast Network. Outside of her unproduced projects, we discuss her October survival guide, Rob Zombie’s The Munters, and so much more. Listen to the episode below:
Lastly, what did you think of these unmade movie projects, which ones would you like to see greenlit the most? Let me know on Twitter via @joshkorngut. I’m always around to chat about all things Elvira!