Wednesday, May 01, 2024

The Fall Guy: Elvira Meets Colt Seavers

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, was quite familiar with John Carradine’s work. She featured several of his less prestigious “films” on Movie Macabre (to be fair, The Monster Club isn’t so bad). Fortunately, he probably never noticed or cared, whereas Elvira never embarrassed easily. Whether there was tension or not, they both guest-starred on “October the 31st,” one of two Halloween episodes of The Fall Guy, which mostly likely will not be covered in the new movie reboot—but it screens through May 5th at the Paley Center.

In the “31
st,” Seavers and his proteges, Jody Banks and Howie Munson, are working on a horror movie so schlocky, it even mortifies its star, Elvira. However, she sees a silver lining in the manly slab of masculinity that is Colt Seavers. Throughout the episode, she makes it clear she has one thing in mind, with dialogue so suggestive, it is almost single entendre.

The production contracted to shoot on-location in the spooky Deauville mansion, because the old couple desperately needs the money. Nevertheless, grumpy old Preston Deauville remains adamantly opposed to their presence, because he worries someone might discover his secret. His opinion does not change, even after his untimely death. In fact, Munson and Banks worry Deauville is haunting the production from beyond the grave.

The ”31
st” holds the distinction for featuring the only on-camera appearance of the entire Carradine acting family together in one scene, when the three Carradine brothers play servants old man Deauville reluctantly lays-off. The senior Carradine is just as regally hammy as fans would hope playing Deauville.

However, the Elvira and Colt show is what drives this episode. Frankly, it is surprisingly they got away with all the wink-wink naughtiness in early 1980s primetime. Of course, Cassandra Peterson was delighted. Reportedly, she was frustrated when producers forced her to tone her Elvira persona when she previously guested on network series. In contrast, creator Glen A. Larson and episode writer Samm Egan let Elvira be Elvira. That led to Egan getting the gig writing
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, the 1988 feature, and Elvira returning to The Fall Guy the next year, in “October the 32nd.”

Again, the set-up is similar. Seavers and company have been working on another Elvira movie, which again co-stars Anthony Martin, the puffed-up aging Valentino she cannot abide (played by Doug McClure, once again proving he was a good sport). When production wraps, the producer insists the two stars and Seavers’ team stay one night in a reportedly haunted house, for the sake of a publicity stunt clearly inspired by William Castle.

Of course, it will be a dark and stormy night. Rather ominously, Croyden the lunatic, has just escaped from the asylum. He murdered the current owner’s parents decades ago, so it sure seems like he has returned to finish the job.

Arguably, the “32
nd” is more successful than the “31st” at creating fan-service old dark house vibes. Besides Elvira herself, it lacks another genre guest star of Carradine’s stature. However, Vernon Wells (a cult favorite from Commando, The Road Warrior, and Weird Science) portrays Croyden with admirably unselfconscious, bulging-eyed, sweaty commitment.

Needless to say, Elvira is all over Seavers, like shedding doghair on a freshly dry-cleaned suit. Lee Majors also shows a heck of a good sense of humor. Maybe the naughty dialogue is slightly toned down this time, but only slightly. Thanks to these Halloween episodes, Elvira has an important place in
The Fall Guy franchise, but it will be lost on all the pop-culture illiterates who do not realize the new movie is based on a series.

In a way, it is hard to blame them, since the original series is not available on any platform for free streaming—and only the first seasons is available for purchase on Prime.
If nothing else, “October the 31st” and “32nd” ought to be paired up and released as a package, because they are a lot of fun for fans of Elvira, corny horror movies, and vintage 1980s TV. Both are affectionately recommended, so good luck finding them in syndication somewhere (but at least you can catch the “31st” at the Paley Center).