Lonely Hearts Ep. 18: Elvira’s House of Romance

Siskoid, Bass, Furn and Marty are back to talk spooky romance in time Fire & Water’s Dark Podcasts of Forbidden Love crossover event, looking at Elvira’s House of Mystery #4 (June 1986) and its two stories of supernatural love. Let the off-topic rambling begin!

Listen to Episode 18 below (the usual filthy filthy language warnings apply), or subscribe to The Lonely Hearts Romance Comics Podcast on iTunes!

Relevant images and further credits at: Lonely Hearts Ep.18 Supplemental

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11 responses to “Lonely Hearts Ep. 18: Elvira’s House of Romance

  1. Man, I’m on an Elvira kick. I picked up Retro Fan #2 from Two Morrows which has a cover featured interview with her, and now with this, I gotta go back and re-watch Mistress of the Dark, and check out Elvira’s Haunted Hills. Who doesn’t love Elvira? She’s 67 and still as gorgeous, funny and outrageous as ever.

    Based on the pages posted, I lean to the theory that the Mom knew her son was a sicko, and THATS why she nagged him, and continued to do so in the afterlife. So benevolent face there for me.

    Great to have the show back. I would make a pithy comment about the long hiatus, but then I’m the co-host of Batman: Knightfall. Glass houses and all that.

    Chris

      1. See, I need to tell my boss I need a promotion so we can get both Knightcast and Superman Movie Minute going again.

        I’m so out of it I erroneously called one of my co-hosting gig’s Batman: KnightFALL above!

        Chris

  2. Great to have the show back, and glad to hear there will be more.

    For whatever reason, I heard this anecdote about Elvira decades ago and I still remember it: she was a guest on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and she was in character as Elvira. They went to commercial, and at some point either Johnny or another guest called her “Elvira”, to which she responded, “Please call me Cassandra, that’s my name.” I remember being impressed with that, that she clearly had a healthy take on her fame and that she always recognized this was a character she plays, not the real person.

    The stories in this comic, while nicely drawn (I really thought one of them was by Ken Steacy, the style is so similar), are so low key that part of me doubts they were ever meant to run on House of Mystery, or any of DC’s “horror” titles. Rather, I wonder if they weren’t commissioned for their briefly-running New Talent Showcase title, which ran all sorts of stories—mystery, sci-fi, action, etc. I guess we’ll never know.

  3. Oh you crazy boys, welcome back!

    Elvira is one of those things I know about through culture osmosis but have never actually experienced directly. Which I suppose speaks to the strength of the character and the brand that I know who she is and her general deal without having seen, read, listened to anything that actually involved the character. Then again, a neckline that plunging tends to leave an impression. Why do you think Vampirella is still around?

    I feel the need to add a little additional context to the Vampira/Elvira lawsuit, as Vampira had a bit more grounds than most people tend to think. Elvira’s Movie Macabre was actually originally going to be an official revival of the Vampira character, and Vampira herself was involved behind the scenes. Eventually she left over creative difference when the producers rejected her preferred choice of performer to play the part. And then the producers changed the name, held auditions, and a notably similar looking character was suddenly hosting. So I feel she had a bit more right to be upset than just going “hey, she looks like me.” Of course she still lost, and I take issue with her suing Elvira directly instead of the producers (as she was found in the audition after Vampira had left), but still. I’d have been pissed too.

  4. Lonely Hearts is Illegal Machine’s favorite Fire & Water Podcast, so I’ll have to alert him to its return. It makes me happy to see other “annual” podcasts, as I feel better when we have lengthy gaps measured in years ourselves.

    Coming up as I did in the late Bronze Age, I never really developed a taste for anthologies, as the format was by then waning in quality and popularity as serialized “soap” storytelling were ascendant. There have been a few exceptions, like my time collecting Manga Vision until the Rumiko Theater segment ended and I couldn’t find enough joy in the other features, or the brief but bright star that was The Next Issue Project. Only in recent years have I actively tried to embrace the format by financially supporting Cinema Purgatorio, Dark Horse Presents, Island, and other modern attempts. I have to confess an element of charity to that, as I’m better at buying them than actually reading them. The last incarnation of DHP lasted a few years before being cancelled and I only read a few of the issues I allowed to stack up, while I did a marathon on Island that prompted me to drop it a few months before Image Comics did the same. In my old age, with my limited time and more demanding attention span, I have dearly appreciated some short stories, but it’s mostly a lost art nowadays and pretty dodgy throughout the industry’s existence overall.

    I got suckered into buying Elvira’s House of Mystery #4 new off the stand of one of the two mall bookstores by the promised presence of Elvira. Obviously given her slight showing, it was a disappointment, though I did buy more issues from first generation flea market comic shops (usually in the quarter bin, but maybe I might have bought another couple new there possibly?) The stories weren’t terrible, but I agree with Siskoid’s assertion that it was a bait & switch scheme to burn off underwhelming inventory left over from HoM volume 1. This issue’s fare stuck with me the most, probably because it was my first round and I paid full price. Despite the channeling of Trevor Von Eeden in the first story, my strongest memories were of the Elvira & Cain splashes, as well as the proto-MRA take-down tale. Nature versus nurture arguments are valid, but I favor the more straightforward interpretation that the son was led away from stalking by the disapproving benevolent ghost of the mother that couldn’t correct him in life. Points for the feminism and for going interracial with the casting way back in 1986, or as I like to call it, the Long Duk Dong Dynasty.

    The two movie hosts that helped define my nascent taste in horror throughout the ’80s were Joe Bob Briggs and the Mistress of the Dark. There were a few attempts at horror hosts in Houston during my childhood, but the syndicated Elvira was the only one that halfway caught on. When I was too young to have better plans on a Saturday Night and too poor to have cable, Elvira was appointment television (and a respite from the bad second half of SNL.) Truth to tell, the movies were so terrible that I barely remember any, and frankly twisted the dial back and forth between NBC channel 2 and UHF channel 20 waiting for the Elvira interstitials. I did however enjoy her guest appearances on programs like The Fall Guy, and even saw her feature film in first run on the weekend it eked out before beginning its accelerated slide to home video. I don’t recall it even making a layover at the dollar show. I also bought Marvel’s black & white magazine adaptation, from back when New World owned them. I also bought an issue or two of her Claypool Comics series, which ran a whopping 166 issues (who knew?)

    Despite watching it many, many times in the early ’90s as an EP VHS dub, it wasn’t until I bought her feature film on DVD that I was retroactively embarrassed of myself for championing such an objectively bad motion picture. My father owns Haunted Hills, so I watched it, and it makes Mistress of the Dark look like Planes, Trains and Automobiles by comparison. Like The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, I can still enjoy Mistress on a very guilty pleasure level, but Haunted Hills was never a pleasure of any sort. I rented some of Elvira’s straight-to-video hosting gigs and once had a poster of her “moonbathing” on my wall, but today my affection is almost purely nostalgic. I still have affection for Cassandra Peterson and the character, but the shtick is from a gentler, slower, dumber time.

    1. I agree, Anthologies are a hard sell, especially without name characters. I did get a lot of DHP back in the day, but they were publishing new Hellboy, Concrete, and Sin City stories. The Legend imprint did do DHP a solid. It’s mostly been “does one of my favorite writers have a story in this?”, but at the height of my “I’ll buy anything” phase, I did buy a lot of forgettable Marvel Comics Presents and the like (but it was more or less an X-book). And yet, as an adult, I haven’t had a lot of trouble buying perfect bound indie anthologies from Drawn & Quarterly or Fantagraphics. I guess the appeal is that you don’t really know what you’re going to get, and you might make some nice discoveries.

      Dollar shows? That takes me back! (2$ Canadian)

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