Horror Hostesses - Vampira and Elvira

Be the perfect Horror Hostess this Halloween and come as your favorite Queen of TV Horror, the seductive Vampira or the campy Elvira Mistress of the Dark


Vampira, Horror Hostess costumes

Vampira (aka Maila Nurmi) was the original Glamour Ghoul. After winning a costume contest the aspiring model and actress was offered the role of host for a late night TV show which aired classic horror movies. She became TV's first Horror Hostess and in fact TV's first horror host. The Vampira Show ran between 1954 and 1955 and Vampira became known for her camp delivery and macabre humor. She would later appear in several low budget movies, most famously Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space. Vampira originally based her look upon the as yet unnamed mother in Charles Addams New Yorker cartoon script, later to be called Morticia Addams. To avoid any copyright issues Vampira adapted her look upping the glamour and sex appeal.

For a Vampira Costume you will need:

  • A long black dress with a very low V and tattered sleeves.
  • A push up bra
  • Vampira was famous for her teeny, tiny waist. Her reported stats were 38-17-36. To achieve this she would wear a Waist cincher.
  • Black high heels
  • Black parasol, black cigarette holder
  • Mid length to long black hair parted in the middle
  • Long red fingernails, reportedly 2 inches long


  • Pale foundation
  • High arched, thick, black eyebrows
  • Heavily lined eyes with a flick at the end, with lots of mascara and false eyelashes
  • Sculpted cheekbones
  • Red lips
  • Sometimes Vampira would add a small beauty spot on her left cheek

Elvira "Mistress of the Dark"

Elvira Mistress of the Dark costume, horror hostess

Elvira (real name Cassandra Peterson) was first approached to take on the role of replacement host for the series Fright Night in 1981, originally hosted by Larry Vincent. The show was later named Movie Macabre or Elvira's Movie Macabre. The producers had previously asked Vampira to reprise her role as horror hostess but after some "creative differences" they decided to create a new character. Maila Nurmi tried to stop production claiming a breach of copyright, owing to the similarity between Elvira and her original character Vampira. The law suit was rejected and production continued. Movie Macabre ran between 1981 and 1984. Like Vampira, Elvira  began each episode with some campy humor but whereas Vampira was more seductive and serious Elvira had more of a cheeky, Valley Girl persona. Elvira would go on to make regular appearances on talk shows, have a range of her own products and make two films Elvira, Mistress of the Dark in 1988 and Elvira's Haunted Hills in 2001.

Elvira Costume on Amazon

For a Elvira Costume you will need:

  • A long, black, tight dress with a deep V neck, long sleeves and a long slit up one side
  • Push-up bra
  • Black hosiery
  • Black heels
  • Accessories: Prop dagger, a red ring
  • Long black hair half done up in a Beehive 
  • Black nail polish


  • Pale foundation
  • Pink and purple eye-shadow
  • Thick lined eyes with eyeliner on the upper lids drawn on to mimic eyelashes
  • Pink, sculpted cheekbones
  • Red lips


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