Review: KILLER DAMES – TWO GOTHIC CHILLERS BY EMILIO P. MIRAGLIA (4-Disc Special Limited Edition)

AV053I love a good, bad play on words, and my first reaction to this Blu-ray box set from Arrow is that it should be titled “The Nights Evelyn Came Out of the Grave” since both films deal with women named Evelyn who seem to be seeking some form of post-mortem revenge. However, in true giallo form, the audience in both cases is left wondering what’s really happening and how much of what we’re being shown is true. This isn’t meant to suggest that these two films are carbon copies of each other, far from it.

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) sees director Emilio Miraglia making his first giallo, and a particularly sex obsessed one at that. Lord Alan Cunningham (Anthony Steffen) has everything: money, a castle, and a dead wife he’s obsessed with, our titular Evelyn. The poor woman seems to be haunting him, and he can’t cope. One evening at a particularly swinging party, Cunningham meets Gladys (Marina Malfatti), falls in love, and remarries. But will he be able to quench his sexual desires with his new wife? Will Evelyn ever leave him alone? Why is Erica Blanc doing a striptease out of a coffin, emerging ass first? Just watch the movie! Marina Malfatti as Gladys, the new Lady Cunningham is the standout to me here, she’s an interesting actress and Miraglia agreed as he would have her back again for his next film, and the second film in this set! That’s not to say the other major players aren’t worthy of praise, Erica Blanc gives a fiery performance with her small, but important role.

The second film in the collection, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972) I find to be the better of the two. One can feel Miraglia has gained some confidence in his scripting and handling of all the elements of what makes a giallo really tick. In this case, we have an old legend of “The Red Queen”, her sister, “The Black Queen”, and a murderous rampage, a lovely tale to tell children as in the opening of the film, where two sisters are bickering over a doll. Fast forward to the present of 1972, Kitty Wildenbruch (a wonderful Barbara Bouchet) and her relatives are dealing with the death of the family matriarch and who will inherit what, and when, as the old man had a codicil in his will that nothing will be dispersed for a year. Of course, as soon as there is a promise of money, the bodies start piling up at the hands of the mythic “Red Queen”!  Not to mention another dead relative named, you guessed it, Evelyn, who may be culpable for some of the strange goings on.

I realize it’s uncommon to give so little detail about a film’s plot, but in these two cases, the less you know the better going in. Rest assured, they’re fun, twisty rides with just enough of everything to keep any giallo fan, or murder mystery aficionado pleased.

Arrow video is on a roll with their releases and they seem to have corrected many of the ills of the past. Gone is the overuse of DNR and artificial grain reduction, giving these two films a wonderful film like transfer. Colors are balance nicely, with no tone shifts or wavering of brightness as is common with many older films that aren’t restored properly from their film elements. Both films have Italian and English language soundtracks with optional English subtitles. I would suggest watching the films in Italian, although they appear to be shot with some actors speaking English and others Italian, the Italian tracks are far more robust. Once you get the film viewing out of the way, there is a trove of bonus material, both old and new spread across the four discs, 2 Blu-ray/2 DVD.

 

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

Limited Edition box set (3000 copies) containing The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave and The Red Queen Kills Seven Times

Brand new 2K restorations of the films from the original camera negatives

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations

Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (lossless DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray Discs)

Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks

Limited Edition 60-page booklet containing new writing by James Blackford, Kat Ellinger, Leonard Jacobs and Rachael Nisbet

 

THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE

New audio commentary by Troy Howarth

Exclusive introduction by actress Erika Blanc

Writer Stephen Thrower on The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

The Night Erika Came Out of the Grave exclusive interview with Erika Blanc

The Whip and the Body archival interview with Erika Blanc

Still Rising from the Grave archival interview with production designer Lorenzo Baraldi

Original Italian and US theatrical trailers

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

 

THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES

New audio commentary by Alan Jones and Kim Newman

Writer Stephen Thrower on The Red Queen Kills Seven Times

Archival introduction by production/costume designer Lorenzo Baraldi

Dead à Porter archival interview with Lorenzo Baraldi

Rounding Up the Usual Suspects archival interview with actor Marino Masé

If I Met Emilio Miraglia Today archival featurette with Erika Blanc, Lorenzo Baraldi and Marino Masé

My Favourite… Films archival interview with actress Barbara Bouchet

Alternative opening

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

 

If you’re new to these films, they’re worth a watch, and probably a rewatch to fully understand what just happened. They’re well made, fun, and sexually charged. Fans of Sybil Danning will want to pay close attention to The Red Queen Kills Seven Times for an early, very naked performance. And my favorite of the interview pieces is Erica Blanc being shot while putting on makeup for a performance of a play. She’s candid, funny, and charming.

Leave A Comment