Cassandra Peterson has spent over half her life playing Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark.
“I can’t believe I’m celebrating 35 years with this character,” Peterson, 65, tells PEOPLE of creating the iconic horror character as part of a local Los Angeles TV show. “But I think she’s got just the right mix of sexy, scary and funny for everyone to find something to love about her.”
Peterson — who co-wrote and starred in two Elvira movies — has watched with pride and awe as Elvira grew into a cult-favorite character with costumes, comic books, action figures, trading cards, pinball machines, perfumes, dolls and more.
“I’m a big pinball fan, so that one still means a lot,” admits Peterson, who now hosts events at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween celebration, Knott’s Scary Farm, and has released a book of never-before-seen photos from her years as Elvira.
“It was great to get to look back at all these photos and see the evolution of the character. As I have grown and changed, she’s grown and changed. Sometimes the hair was too big, sometimes it was too flat. I think it’s just right now,” Peterson says of her coffee-table book, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
Now, just in time for a Halloween night viewing party, the Mistress of the Dark has revealed her favorite horror movies:
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
“It’s brilliant. I’ve seen it a million times,” says Peterson. “There’s so much woman and so little plot. She just goes through town and squishes her philandering husband.”
Plan 9 from Outer Space
“It’s so incredibly naive and cheap,” she says. “These movies from the ’50s and ’60s are like comfort food to me.”
Manos: The Hands of Fate
“It’s my favorite even though it’s the worst film of all time,” says Peterson.=
The book Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is available now.