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Title screens are the initial titles, usually projected at the beginning of a film, and following the logos of the film studio. Many other sci-fi films of the 1950s portrayed the human race as victimized and at the mercy of mysterious, hostile, and unfriendly forces, during the Cold War period of politics – with suspicion, anxiety, and paranoia of manster sex “other” – or “un-American.

These moods were reflected allegorically in sci-fi and horror films of the era. The Strange World of Planet X, Cosmic Monsters, etc. Since they were unable to continue with the Vampira character, the character Elvira was used instead. What followed was Elvira’s Movie Macabre, featuring a quick-witted Valley girl-type character named Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, with heavily applied, pancake-horror make-up and a towering black beehive wig to conceal Peterson’s flame-red hair.

Shortly before the first taping, producers received a cease and desist letter from Nurmi. Besides the similarities in the format and costumes, Elvira’s closing line for each show, wishing her audience “Unpleasant dreams”, was notably similar to Vampira’s closer: “Bad dreams, darlings” uttered as she walked off down a misty corridor. The Elvira character rapidly gained notoriety with her tight-fitting, low-cut black gown which showed ample cleavage. Elvira reclined on a red Victorian couch, introducing and often interrupting the movie to lampoon the actors, the script, and the editing.

Elvira was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and other talk shows. In 1982, with the success of Movie Macabre, Knott’s Theme Parks hired Elvira to replace Seymour as the host of its annual Halloween Haunt during October. Elvira appeared nightly at the park, live on stage with a Halloween-themed musical comedy revue similar to her Mamma’s Boys act from the 1970s. In September 2010, Elvira’s Movie Macabre returned to television syndication in the United States, this time with public domain films. See E1 Entertainment for DVD releases. 13 Nights of Elvira was an all-new series produced for Hulu by Brainstorm Media. A new episode streamed each day through Halloween.

In 2004 Time Life released a series of special Elvira DVDs titled Elvira’s Horror Classics which was done in a similar fashion to Movie Macabre. Each DVD had two films and they were later released in a box set titled Elvira’s Box of Horrors. The films featured were all in the public domain. Factory has released a small number of Movie Macabre episodes to DVD, in both single and double feature format. The DVDs allow the material to be shown complete with Elvira’s interruptions or uninterrupted. Unlike the original broadcasts, the original films are complete and uncensored.

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