Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

When Elvira’s (Cassandra Peterson) great aunt dies, she heads to the sleepy and conservative New England town of Falwell where an inheritance is waiting for her. Quitting her job and believing she’ll get millions, she instead finds that she’s inherited a creepy old house, a weird cookbook and a punk-rock poodle. Elvira’s ample “charms” and strange ways unsettle some of the residents of Falwell and in the meantime, not everyone of her relatives is happy with Elvira getting what she got…because the cookbook may hold more secrets than just the recipe for an awesome chicken Kiev.

Elvira is a force of nature. Many people might not remember her, but she was super-popular back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Her acting is sort of hammy, but then again, Elvira films are meant to be campy and ribald and showcase her many talents (and by talents, I mean boobs).

The plot is similar to one you’d find in an old B film from the early movie years and that works well because Mistress of the Dark IS a B film. There are enough laughs and titillation to make this a Halloween classic. Though it’s obviously not set during Halloween, Elvira is everything people love about Halloween.

(And the boobs don’t hurt, either)

JOE Rating: ★★★

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The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes (1991)

The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes (1988)

Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Creative Team: Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III

Set in the DC Universe, The Sandman Volume 1 collects issues 1-8 of the comic book series written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III.

A wizard who wants to live forever attempts to summon and trap Death, but inadvertantly traps her younger brother, Dream (aka Morpheus). Fearing retaliation, the wizard and his cohorts keep Morpheus imprisoned in a magical cell for a couple of lifetimes. When his captors make a mistake and Morpheus breaks free, he is weak from his time in imprisonment and also finds that his captors have stolen and have sold three of his possessions which help give him power. His helm, his bag of dust and his ruby pendant. With these items he will be close to full strength again, so he sets out to find them…but they are spread wide and though he is a god, Morpheus finds that some of them are guarded more closely than he would think. Teaming with well-known DC Comics characters like John Constantine and Martian Manhunter, Morpheus must go to Hell and back to find his things. Literally.

While this is not the strongest entry in the Sandman series, issues 1-8 are a great introduction to the world Morpheus inhabits and is a good set up to the wonderment that follows in later volumes. The artwork is great, but the colors in the collection versus the originals are a little bit off, a little bit darker. This might be problematic for some purists, but I think for the tone of the piece, the colors suit it well. Then again, the original colors were more dreamlike. It’s a coin toss on which you’ll like better.

This beginning collection is a story about starting over. Morpheus was content with where he was and with his station, overconfident that he had everything nailed down. When this was proven false by his imprisonment by a bunch of mortals, it shook him up a little. Weakened and forced to find alternate ways to deal with things, Morpheus becomes a compelling character. Though a god, he is still fallible.

The characters are all really interesting. We get to meet the perky character of Death, we get to see a new and frightening/sad interpretation of Cain and Abel. There are dangerous and fantastical dream creatures and lots of magic thrown in.

If other DC characters weren’t tossed into the mix, you wouldn’t even think of it as a comic book story that exists in the world of superheroes, but Neil Gaiman has seamlessly integrated Morpheus and his mythos into the existing DC canon.

Give this a read, and especially the later collections.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Check Out This Sample Page From Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes!
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Heathers (1988)

Heathers (1988)

Original Theatrical Release: March 31, 1989
Director: Michael Lehmann

Veronica (Winona Ryder) despises school and all its politics. To have any semblance of normalcy, you must be popular, and a trio of girls, all named Heather, have inducted her into their ranks. However, Veronica hates the games and cruelty, eventually falling for J.D. (Christian Slater) a sociopath who leads her down a dark rabbit hole of hate, unintentional murder and suicide.

We all hated high school. I think I can say that with some confidence and still mean that everyone, even the popular kids, hated it.

I watched this movie again recently mostly because Christian Slater started coming into my workplace and sort of, by proxy, reminded me of all his films. I think this is one of his better roles. Also, for all her flaws in real life, Winona Ryder is actually a very great actress and she is in fine form here.

The movie is a great commentary on high school life (even if this takes place in the late 80’s/early 90’s….the politics are mostly the same nowadays) and is especially poignant in these times after all the recent school shootings like Sandy Hook and others.

Dark, twisted, funny, sad…Heathers has a lot of different facets but is ultimately a gem of filmmaking that was probably a bit ahead of its time. I think its message holds up very nicely, though.

After watching this, I dare you to try not spouting lines from the movie for days.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Heathers