Director: Emilio P. Miraglia
Script: Fabio Pittorru & Emilio P. Miraglia
Cast: Barbara Bouchet, Ugo Pagliai, Marina Malfatti, Marino Masé, Maria Pia Giancaro, Sybil Danning, Nino Korda
Running time: 100 minutes
The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is a film that deals with family curses and family squabbles head-on, but in a stylish gialloesque (is that even a word?) way. Essentially, the Wildenbrűck family have an ongoing curse whereby sisters turn on each other resulting in the death of at least one sister every 100 years. This also seems to be related to the fact that the family is a very wealthy one, which of course provides a clear motive for sibling slaughter to happen.
When elderly Martin Wildenbrűck dies, he leaves his vast estate to his two surviving daughters; their step sister having been killed previously by one of the surviving sisters and they’ve covered it up by pretending Eveline has gone to America, indefinitely. Just as the two women are getting over the loss of their father (it doesn’t seem to bother them too much) a figure in red pops up and starts eliminating various people close to them, or at least associated with them. Is she the spirit of their red queen ancestor come back to life in order to make the family pay after hundreds of years or is the dark-haired mystery woman someone more tangible and closer to home?
I don’t really want to say too much more about the plot of the film as that will spoil it for fresh viewers; all I will say is The Red Queen… is a typical giallo in that there are several red herrings, a convoluted, over-complicated plot, some stylish murders, cool locations, and an equally cool soundtrack, bubbling along on the surface. In fact, Red Queen is one of the better Italian thrillers I’ve seen in recent years and I did enjoy it.
Based on an original idea by screenwriter Fabio Pittorru, The Red Queen is enjoyably delirious hokum, directed by Emilio P. Miraglia, who also directed the better known giallo The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave a year earlier. In fact, both films were released previously together as a boxed set by Arrow Video under the title: Killer Dames: Two Gothic Chillers by Emilio P. Miraglia. Both have since been released separately, hence the reason for this review. A review of Evelyn will follow shortly.
The soundtrack to the film by Bruno Nicolai is one of the better pieces of music for a giallo (although I tend to like most of them), especially the central theme, and Miraglia does a good job of keeping the visuals interesting too, especially during the final water-logged set-piece. Actually, there are some really stylishly shot weird dream sequences earlier in the film that reminded me of Dario Argento’s ouvre. All this helped by Arrow’s excellent print and treatment of the film.
And, is it just me or does the main detective in the film look a bit like Sacha Baron Cohen’s comical character, Borat?
Arrow Video is distributing The Red Queen Kills Seven Times on DVD and Blu-Ray. As per usual for Arrow Video there are plenty of special features including:
An introduction to the film by the production designer, Lorenzo Baraldi (38 secs);
An audio commentary with film journalists Alan Jones & Kim Newman;
The Red Reign (14 mins) – genre writer Stephen Thrower discusses the film. We find out from the ever-informative Stephen that the film was shot in Munich; that composer Bruno Nicolai taught Ennio Morricone; and the film didn’t get a release in the UK, but did get a release in the US under the alternative title of The Lady in Red Kills Seven Times;
Lulu (20 mins) – an interview with actress Sybil Danning;
Alternative opening (39 secs) – pre-credits sequence involving the women as children;
Trailers (3 mins) – two trailers, one English and the other Italian – the English trailer reminded me of the one done for Mario Bava’s prototype ‘slasher’ movie Bay of Blood;
Archival special features include:
An interview with the production manager, Lorenzo Baraldi, (13.5 mins) who created many of the great sets in the film; an interview with Marino Masé (18.5 mins) who informs us that they filmed in Germany for a month; and some mini soundbite interviews with the above, plus actress Erica Blanc (4 mins), and finally Barbara Bach who really liked this film, plus another giallo she did called The Black Belly of the Tarantula.