Mistress of the Dark, Mistress of Copyright Infringement?

You may have heard that Vampira (real name Maila Nurmi), star of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE and the original “Mistress of the Night” late night Horror movie host, sued Elvira for stealing her gimmick, but the courts ruled in favor of Elvira. It isn’t true. There was no ruling because there was no trial. According to Ms. Nurmi herself, her lawyer called her up within HOURS of the start of the trial and resigned. As a result, Maila didn’t have the proper paperwork in hand; also, she didn’t drive, and was unable to get a ride to the courthouse on such short notice. The judge had no choice but to dismiss the case. Ms. Nurmi fully believed that her lawyer had been paid off by Elvira’s people. Sadly, she couldn’t prove it.

Vampira had been involved in the plan to “resurrect” her show, serving as a producer, but she considered herself too old to reprise the role. The other producer hired Cassandra Peterson behind Maila’s back and went ahead with his plan to film the pilot episode of the show, which was to be called “The Vampira Show.” When Maila served them with a cease-and-desist order, they changed the name of the hostess to “Elvira” and continued, cutting Nurmi out of the process altogether.

I have no doubt this is the way it went down. The thieving producer keeled over and croaked not too long after his act of larceny, leaving Cassandra Peterson to take over the new show. The pertinent question to me, then, is how much Peterson knew about the theft. She professed innocence, but the fact that she tried to claim that she’d never even heard of Vampira–which seems rather implausible–casts suspicion on anything and everything she has said.

I offer special thanks to Sid Terror, who was a longtime friend of Ms. Nurmi’s and who passed this story on to me. These are the facts as Ms. Nurmi related them directly. I can only report on her version of the facts. But do I believe her? Yes, I do.

By TheCheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless. Denn die totden reiten schnell!


  1. I can’t go along with you on this. I’m a fan of both Maila Nurmi’s and Cassandra Peterson. No question of it, Cassandra Peterson tends to fib… a lot. Then again, Nurmi had a tendency to be something of a trainwreck, and nothing was ever her fault. When it comes to whether or not Elvira “stole” the character from Vampira, that’s questionable. “Elvira” was supposed to be a reboot. Nurmi was on board. Nurmi herself has offered several versions, most contradicting one another, as to what went down with the reboot. The fact Nurmi’s lawyers bailed speaks volumes. The theory Peterson’s paid off her lawyers is a bit contrived. Could it have had something to do with Nurmi’s erratic behavior. If you look, a judgement did come down where the judge wrote likeness and similarities do not constitute theft of the character. The statement the case was completely thrown out is not entirely accurate. Lastly, with Nurmi, take a look at her career. Her take on a goth character hit, but only briefly, She claims she was blackballed by Hollywood. Sorry, but Cassandra Peterson succeeded where Nurmi failed.

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