This Halloween is especially terrifying for the Mistress of the Dark.
Elvira has always brought a cheerful vibe to her appearances and performances. Despite surrounding herself with the gruesome and macabre, she reads as the prom queen of the Monster Mash, or the most popular gal at the Werewolf Bar Mitzvah. Naturally, this isn't someone who would get freaked out about a rogue spider in her bathroom. But since I write a column about fear, when I had the opportunity to meet Elvira last week, all I wanted to know was what scares her?
Hint: It's a creature with orange skin and wispy hair, and it's said it loves grabbing unsuspecting women.
During our conversation, which has been lightly edited for clarity, she told me about the stuff that makes her spine tingle—a list that includes certain horror movies, certain child actors, and certain all-consuming news events.
VICE: Since it's my favorite topic, do you mind if I ask you a few questions about fear?
Elvira: You should talk to Trump supporters!
Oh, I have.
Well that's where you should go if you like talking about fear.
But since I'm here: You seem like you gravitate toward fun horror, more than the really scary stuff, right?
But do you like the more gruesome kind of horror that's really supposed to scare you?
Not so much, although there are a few of those that I really love. I think maybe The Exorcist would be my number one pick for the scariest frickin' movie. But I don't know if that was because I was sitting next to Linda Blair when I saw it.
I don't have any things that really scare me. Except Trump being president.
How'd you get to see it sitting next to Linda Blair?
She wasn't a little kid. It was the second premiere of The Exorcist that they brought out, at the Grauman's Chinese Theater. They redid it, added new footage, and added scenes back in. It was because Linda and I were working with PETA, the animal rights group. It was a benefit for PETA, but it was the grand re-release of The Exorcist. Linda was an adult, but I could not sit next to her! About halfway through I was like, this is too creepy, and started looking at the screen and looking over at her, and looking at the screen, and over at her. So I went to the bathroom and never came back. But yeah, that's a perfect scare-the-crap-out-of-you movie. Other movies like Carrie. I love Carrie. Psycho. I still really can't stand to watch Psycho. I sorta prefer not to watch that stuff. Then I see stuff like the last Blair Witch where—dare I say it—I'm not scared at all.
What makes some movies so un-scary?
Some of the movies I see, the more special effects they have, it seems like the less I get scared. But the more practical effects, the scarier they are. I like the cheaper, real effects like makeup, and things that are actually in the room.
Did you see The Witch?
I loved The freakin' Witch! Oh my God. That is creepy, and stays with you forever. But I tend toward the movies from when I was a kid, which was about a thousand years ago, that are more campy, funny, and made so badly that they've got a cheesy edge about them that I like to make fun of.
What in real life scares you?
Doing this interview would be number one.
But not much scares Elvira, I gotta say. Because I think I've been around horror for so long, I've kinda built up a hard shell maybe. I don't have any things that really scare me. [Whispering] Except Trump being president—Oh I'm bringing that up again. Sorry! [Pretending that someone else said it.] Did somebody say that? What? I thought I heard something but maybe not.
It's on the record. Your views will be known. But you were talking about building up a hard shell....
I know that when I'm not feeling well, and it's late at night, and I want to put something on TV that feels like comfort food, like chicken soup kinda thing? I put on The Twilight Zone or The Walking Dead. Those feel really home-y to me. I guess I got messed up with all this stuff around too much.
Were you easier to scare when you were a kid?
I went to my first horror movie when I was in second grade, and it was Vincent Price in The House on Haunted Hill. It had a weird effect. It scared the living daylights out of me, and I went home and had nightmares every night for a month. I woke up screaming, and my parents were getting very concerned. I wanted more, more, more! And my parents wanted me to see less, less, less, because I'd kept them awake for like a month.
What were the nightmares like?
I remember one vividly. It was very weird. I don't know if you ever saw the original House on Haunted Hill—the remake suuuuuucked—but remember that old lady with the white hair kinda floating along? There's nothing but black, and she comes floating out, kinda like they have her on a skateboard or something, y'know?
I know the scene! Was that in the nightmare?
I had a dream that my grandma was coming down the driveway of her house with a giant butcher knife, trying to kill me, but she was floating. And I mean, I loved my grandma. That was the weird thing. I guess she did kinda look like that old woman, with gray hair in a bun. But yeah that. Wow, that image. I can see that in my head.
Do you still get nightmares?
I do not have nightmares. If I've had two nightmares in the last 40 years, that'd be surprising. I just don't.
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