Director: Emilio P. Miraglia
Script: Fabio Pittorru & Emilio P. Miraglia
Cast: Anthony Steffen, Maria Malfutti, Rob Murdock, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Umberto Raho, Roberto Maldera, Jean C. Davie, Erika Blanc
Running time: 103 minutes
Based on an original story by screenwriter Fabio Pittorru and Massimo Felisatti, The night Evelyn came out of the grave is wonderfully bizarre and melodramatic. Directed by Emilio P. Miraglia, who also directed the other gothic giallo The red queen kills seven times a year later, this was previously packaged with Red Queen as part of a boxed set by Arrow Video under the title: Killer Dames: Two Gothic Chillers by Emilio P. Miraglia. Both have now been released separately, hence the reason for this review. Check out my review of Red Queen elsewhere on this site.
Originally shot under the title Sweet kill, hard to kill, The night Evelyn came out of the grave is a peculiar mix of gothic thriller, giallo and psychological drama.
Beginning by setting up the main character, Lord Alan Cunningham (Steffen), as someone who’s mentally unbalanced, we even see him (during the pre-credits sequence) try and escape from the local nuthouse, only to be apprehended by several burly men at the main gates.
The story then flashes forward to sometime later when the not-so-cured Lord is out with a young lady and takes her back to his ruined gaff, where he then proceeds to whip her in his dungeon and abruptly finishes the romantic evening off by stabbing her to death! The reason for this disturbing and psychotic behaviour..? Well, it transpires that Alan used to be married to a beautiful red head that cheated on him. When he discovered this betrayal of trust, he killed her and ended up in the loony bin for a while, probably on the grounds of diminished responsibility or some other legal twaddle. Now, whenever he’s with a woman who reminds him of the departed love of his life, he just wants to kill, kill, kill…
After another similar killing he’s advised by his cousin to find himself another wife (‘cause that’ll help!) to help try and get over the last one; after all getting over one love is as easy as buying a new puppy when your old dog dies, isn’t it? Suffice to say, he is sceptical at first, but then meets a blonde hottie at a swanky party and within minutes he’s in love and proposing to her. They get married, she moves in with him, and then things really start getting weird!
As with any giallo thriller I don’t want to say too much more, as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for first time viewers; suffice to say, this one’s a good one, and is well worth watching if you’re into this kind of Eurotrash thriller.
The acting is variable, (although serviceable), and the storyline is pretty crazy (that’s the way we like ‘em though), however, The night Evelyn came out of the grave is one of the better Italian gothic thrillers and is well served by a great central location (apparently they got chucked out when the owner returned from his holidays to find the filmmakers had trashed the place), some striking imagery, and an appropriate lounge score soundtrack by the ever reliable Bruno Nicolai.
Arrow Video have done a great job sourcing a decent print and restoring it, with the film benefitting enormously from being presented once again in widescreen format, since for many years it was only available in a pretty poor pan and scan version.
Arrow Video are distributing The night Evelyn came out of the grave 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 actress Erika Blanc (1 min);
An audio commentary with film journalist Troy Howarth;
Remembering Evelyn (15 mins) – genre writer Stephen Thrower discusses the film. We find out from the ever-informative Stephen that the film did well on the drive-in circuit in America, that it was shot in the Venetian part of Italy, that actress Maria Malfutti went on to marry the Italian Ambassador to the UN, and that Evelyn had a UK cinema release on a double-bill with ‘Cold Blooded Beast’ (aka Slaughter Hotel).
The night Erika came out of the grave (10 mins) – an interview with actress Erika Blanc. She informs us that she ended up choreographing her own dance sequences, even though she’d never done it before (that much is apparent!), and that the lead actor, Anthony Steffen, was a very vain man who was always looking in a small compact mirror that he walked around with. We also find out that Erika has been in 108 films and was 73 years old at the time of the interview.
Trailers (3 mins) – two trailers, one English and the other Italian – again, as with Red Queen, the English trailer reminded me of the one done for Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood, when it was promoted under the alternative title of Carnage.
Archival special features include:
The whip and the body (21 mins) – An interview with Erika Blanc filmed by the guys from the NoShame video label, back in 2006. Here she admits that she enjoys doing the more macabre stuff, although she’s now quit movie making and does only theatre work currently.
Still rising from the grave (23 mins) - An interview with the production manager, Lorenzo Baraldi, who talks about his long career, which started way back in 1966. He reminds the viewer that, back in its heyday, Italy was producing some 300 features each year. Apparently The night Evelyn came out of the grave took five weeks to shoot on location at Colleoni Castle.