Elvira, Still Scaring

The ageless late-night horror movie host — still a voluptuous cross between a vampire and a 1980s Valley Girl — says that when she’s sick at home, nothing makes her feel better than a classic monster movie marathon featuring the crown princes of horror, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.

“Maybe I’m weird — well, I know I am — but the old movies are like comfort food for me,” she says. “Every time I see them, I have this childhood flashback thing, being scared and maybe being comforted by my parents.”
Elvira’s real name is Cassandra Peterson, and she’s been a steadfast TV horror-show host for almost 35 years. While Peterson has appeared in a handful of roles without her creepy makeup and beehive hairdo, only as Elvira has she become an icon — albeit one solely associated with things that go bump in the night.

She believes horror fans love to be scared stiff because these films elicit a response akin to drugs.
“I think it’s a chemical thing,” says Peterson. “It’s an adrenaline rush that people love. You get this big rush, and then you calm down.

“It’s like riding a roller coaster. You go from this high and then down again, a high and then down again — it’s a real physical rush,” says Peterson.

Also, scary movies are great for romance. Try throwing one on for your next date night, she advises.
“You sit down on the couch, pop in a horror movie, and the next thing you know, she’s all over you,” says Peterson.
If only one’s blood could be warmed so easily.
Peterson’s favorite creepy films tend to include the Universal classics like “Frankenstein,” “The Mummy” and “Dracula.” But she also has a soft spot for most Vincent Price movies.
“I love ‘House of Usher,’ ‘The Tomb of Ligeia,” she says. “They’re definitely cheesy, but they show how great Price was.”
Other faves include the original “House on Haunted Hill” and “Night of the Living Dead.”
“That movie is cheesy and scary at the same time,” Peterson says. “It’s amazing how it still stands up to time, and it’s such a strange commentary on social mores.”
Newer gems include “The Conjuring” and the first “Paranormal Activity” she says.
But the self-proclaimed Mistress of the Dark has a pretty dark view on slasher flicks. Movies like the “Saw” series, in which people are tortured and killed by maniacs, just don’t appeal to her.
“I like horror that is fantasy-based, a monster that you know is not going to get you when you walk out the front door — and it’s no less scary” she says.

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