31 Days of Nightmares — Elvira’s Haunted Hills & Memorial Valley Massacre
Another two-fer tonight, with a movie that isn’t scary, but is awesome, and one that’s nowhere close to either.
Elvira’s Haunted Hills
This movie is a real hoot. Definitely rent this if you see it on the rack at your local movie barn. I’m pretty sure 90 percent of the budget went into the spectacular set. Something something boobs.
Seriously, though, this is a fun, goofy Elvira movie. Elvira is amazing, simultaneously a horror icon and a sex-positive role model. The climactic scene pretty much sums up the Elvira way — the villain says, “You’re an adulterous slut, darling,” and she replies, “Hey! Don’t call me darling.” When her friend with benefits (“Stable Stud”) tries to rescue her, he doesn’t get there in time, so Elvira saves herself. The humor is pretty broad, but there are some hilarious and well-done homages for classic horror fans here. I wasn’t joking about the set, which is a gothic technicolor castle straight out of a Hammer horror film. Richard O’Brien (you may know him as Riff-Raff) has a fun turn as the loopy, insane Vladimire Hellubus — at times he channels Peter Cushing, others he’s more like Vincent Price, particularly from The Abominable Dr. Phibes and The Pit and the Pendulum, which is neatly duplicated Elvira style (Price starred in Roger Corman’s 1961 adaption of it). My favorite gag was Stable Stud, who speaks in obviously and poorly overdubbed lines, a shoutout to all the great Italian horror films.
Memorial Valley Massacre
This is a dopey, disposable semi-slasher flick that looks so dated I’m stunned it was made in 1989. The plot revolves around a bunch of campers terrorized by Ted Nugent running around a campground with an axe. Bad script, bad acting, bad special effects. And it’s not actually Ted Nugent — actually it looks kinda like Gary Busey?
Anyway, they kill two dogs in the first ten minutes, which is bullshit, and the campers die in the dumbest, least exciting ways possible. There’s very little action, just mostly people in a campground bickering. I’d say it has some nostalgia value if it had actually been made in ’81 or something, but I’m mainly just embarrassed for anyone who had anything to do with this movie.