Contributed by Andy Shultz
February is “Women In Horror Month” and we here at All Hallows’ Haunts decided to round up some of our favorite Ladies of Horror and share them with you. With that being said, I chose one of my favorite horror icons-Cassandra Peterson. Now, If I say the name, Cassandra Peterson, die hard fans will know right away who she is. To the unaware, some might say “Who is she?”, or “I’ve never seen her in a horror movie!” The world however knows her very well by her as her popular character- Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
For those not familiar with Cassandra Peterson or Elvira (and if you’re not, what’s wrong with you?), Elvira is a character that Peterson has been playing since the 1980s. The character of Elvira has become bigger than life. Though, Peterson is the real star.
Cassandra Peterson was born in Kansas, but raised in Colorado. Growing up, she had a fascination with macabre and horror. She has stated that she had more interest in horror toys than Barbies and dolls. It was also during her childhood that she worked and modeled at her mom’s costume shop.
As she got older, Peterson held several jobs, such as a go-go dancer, showgirl, model, singer, and actress. Clearly, she had a love for performing. At the age of 17, she briefly dated Elvis Presley. She also appeared on the cover of the 1976 Tom Waits album Small Change. In the late 70s, she moved to Los Angeles. It was in Los Angeles that she joined the comedic troupe, The Groundlings.
It was while with the Groundlings that Peterson auditioned to replace the vacancy left by Fright Night Horror Host, Larry Vincent. It was at this point that Peterson, along with her best friend, Robert Redding, created Elvira: a gothic, vampire-looking host, with low-cut tops, big hair with a valley girl accent, and a quick wit. Elvira was a hit. Peterson would then go on to host “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” for 5 seasons from 1981 to 1986. The series would be revived again in 2010. Her wacky commentary on B-Horror movies made her an instant classic! Elvira proved so popular, that she had numerous guest appearances on TV shows and movies. She would also go on to host numerous Halloween and horror events.
The character of Elvira would also spawn two original movies: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) and Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001).
Today, Peterson is still acting. When not performing, she is busy on the convention circuit, appearing as both herself and as Elvira. Since 2012, Elvira has been the co-host of Comikaze Convention in Los Angeles with Stan Lee. 2013 saw the return of Elvira’s Halloween show at Knott’s Scary Farm, where it has run for the last three years.
Many male horror icons have been able to stand the test of time. Cassandra Peterson has too. She is still kicking ass and rocking out. Because of this, I have chosen to write about her for Women In Horror Month.
If you have not had the chance to watch any of her shows or movies, you don’t know what you are missing. Seriously, go on Netflix or Youtube and check out her stuff. You will not regret it!
I had the awesome privilege to meet Cassandra Peterson in 2013 at Knott’s Scary farm. It was amazing to meet this horror icon. In addition to being extremely talented and funny, she is still breathtakingly gorgeous.