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CASSANDRA PETERSON INTERVIEW
Interview conducted by Richelle Charkot
The incomparable Cassandra Peterson is returning to our screens as her iconic character Elvira. Starting October 19th on Hulu, we can see her show, 13 Nights of Elvira, where she will be skewering some of the craziest and most ridiculous B-movies she could find, and finishing the 13 nights with one of her favourites, Night of the Living Dead.
Richelle Charkot: What can we expect from 13 Nights of Elvira?
Cassandra Peterson: All brand new material. A lot of people think it's going to be a bit of a rehash of the old years, but it is all movies that I've never done before, except for Night of the Living Dead. I insisted that we do that one because it's just one of my favourites; I can watch that movie a million times and never get sick of it. But yeah, for 13 Nights we were really lucky to get some great movies: Puppet Master, Evil Bong, Oblivion, some great stuff to riff off of. The difference now though is that it will be much edgier because it is on Hulu, they don't really give a damn what I do!
RC: What do you think is the main appeal of B-movies apart from their occasional silliness? Why do they have such a lasting quality?
CP: I think that people are spoiled with huge budgets, realistic special effects and good acting. It's refreshing to see films that have bad acting and bad special effects. It's the opposite of what people are used to. It's like, you watch those movies and you go, "Oh my god, I can't believe my eyes!" because they can be such a car-wreck sometimes. But it's fun! It's fun to make fun of. I used to be a part of a group called Le Chien and we'd go to see all of the films that had terrible reviews - it was like unintentional comedy.
RC: What was your favourite episode to do of 13 Nights of Elvira?
CP: There are a lot of really fun ones, but I really liked doing Oblivion. I got to dress up like a stewardess and drink those little bottles of booze that are on planes, and just got gradually drunker in every scene. It was so funny.
RC: What was the hardest episode to do of 13 Nights of Elvira? Is it difficult to make fun of a movie that is already trying to be bad?
CP: Oh, yeah, that's my worst nightmare, a movie that's already trying to be bad. I remember one time we did Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and it was a nightmare because they already made every tomato joke there was to make! This time around, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death proved to be a little difficult, as you can tell by the title it's an insane movie. Totally worth watching!
RC: What is your fondest Halloween memory?
CP: Oh that's a tough one; I've had a lot of great Halloween memories. I think a great one that really sticks out though is in the second grade when I won a hundred dollars for being dressed as Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke. My first time wearing high heels and fishnets!
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RC: Tell me about the difference between Cassandra and Elvira, what do you draw from when you put on that character?
CP: Putting on that hair and that dress makes you go crazy; ask anyone who's ever gone out as Elvira for Halloween. You just turn into another person; more confident, more brash, more know it all, it's really freeing. I wouldn't do it, but I swear, I could walk up to someone as Elvira and be like, "Your nose is gigantic!" and they'd be like "Haha! That's so funny!" Who else can do that?
RC: What is it like to have an alter-ego?
CP: Oh, it's fantastic. Best idea I ever had. I could raise my daughter in a fairly normal household because we could go out and no one would know it was me. It wasn't show-bizzy, you know? I can cook and garden and be Martha Stewart, but then I can put on that dress and be wild and crazy. There's a small handful of people who can do that too, like me and Paul Reubens, who plays Pee Wee Herman, basically. As fun as it seems to be a celebrity, it is nice to be able to have my personal life.
RC: I have a few horror films that I attach some sentimentality to for several reasons. For example, every time the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers is on, I remember being a kid and watching it with my dad at his mini-putt when he would work late. Is there a particular horror film that really holds a special place in your heart?
CP: Yes, definitely. I would say House on Haunted Hill. My cousin took me to see that when I was in the second grade, it rocked my world. It was probably the first horror movie that I ever saw. It is just so weird, and seeing a horror film for the first time is just life expanding. I became obsessed with Vincent Price, obsessed with horror. I also love anything Roger Corman. It all just consumed me, I started to buy those horror model kits of all of the classic monsters and had those to play with when everyone else had a Barbie.
RC: Of several things, I really admire how you've forged your own path in life and created an iconic piece of pop culture along the way; what advice do you have for people who are making their way in a more unconventional route?
CP: Well, just one thing that I've learned over the years is that those kinds of people who feel like they're misfits and losers, they become the most creative and interesting people down the road. I don't know if that's advice, but if someone is really feeling like the kid who gets bullied, then hey, you've got that going for you. You may not fit in, but someday it'll come together. I guess my advice is hold out, hang on, because you will be awesome some day and normal people will be looking at you like you're a god!
RC: Tell me about the best present you've ever received.
CP: Hmm, I've received some pretty awesome presents from fans. A lot of paintings and artwork. I always love seeing body artwork especially! One time I received a bat skeleton from Nicholas Cage; that was pretty cool. Another time I received a python. When it was given to me, it was about the size of a pencil, but it ended up growing too big. It was about 13 feet by the time it had to go to a snake sanctuary type of place.
RC: What was the python's name?
CP: Dick. It ended up being a girl; she had eggs in her belly!
HorrorTalk would like to thank Cassandra Peterson for taking the time to sit down and chat with us! 13 Nights of Elvira begins on October 19th, exclusively on Hulu. You can learn more about what Elvira is up to at www.elvira.com, and follow her on Twitter @TheRealElvira.
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