How Did Cassandra Peterson Become Horror Icon Elvira?

by Thomas Tuna

The Mistress of the Dark owes a lot to Vincent Price.

Cassandra Peterson–who adopted the iconic persona of Elvira back in 1981 at a Los Angeles radio station–can remember exactly where she was when the horror bug first bit.

Peterson–who will be seen next in Rob Zombie’s upcoming remake of The Munsterstold CBR, “I think about the moment that it happened. It was when my cousin took me to see House on Haunted Hill with Vincent Price. I was between second and third grade, and had never even heard of a horror movie.”

Her reaction to her first horror movie? “I was completely repulsed by it and, at the same time, I just couldn’t get enough of it,” she said. “I remember coming home and, for two weeks, having these horrible nightmares. My parents were upset with my cousin, but all I wanted to do was see more.”

Peterson said she later watched the Roger Corman films starring Price, “and that got me into it. I started reading Edgar Allan Poe, and then I found Famous Monsters magazine. I couldn’t believe that existed. I started reading that and wearing all the crazy model kits in the back. I was completely consumed by it when I was seven or eight years old.”

Peterson said the horror genre has undergone a huge overhaul since her transformation into Elvira. “It used to be so underground, and I felt like I was a completely underground character,” she said. “I was definitely out in the weeds, on the fringe of pop culture.”

Now, everything in the horror culture “is mainstream,” she said. “Horror movies used to be just for Halloween, but now they’re on 365 days a year. It’s become year ’round for me and for everybody involved in horror.”

Keep reading Horror News Network for the latest on Cassandra Peterson’s sexy and scary alter-ego.


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