Category Archives: Must See

The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971) | Dario Argento’s purr-fectly stylish whodunit

The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971)

Following the success of his film debut The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Dario Argento directed another puzzling-titled whodunit, The Cat O’ Nine Tails, starring Karl Malden (The Streets of San Francisco) and James Franciscus (Beneath the Planet of the Apes), which had its debut in West German cinemas on 15 July 1971.

The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971)

Malden plays blind crossword puzzle expert Cookie, while Franciscus is wily reporter Carlo Giordani. The unlikely pair becomes amateur sleuths following a break-in at a pharmaceutical institute in Rome.

When doctors attached to the development of a revolutionary new drug start getting bumped off, Cookie and Giordani must solve nine leads (hence the film’s title) in order to unmask the killer. But their nosing around turns personal for Cookie, when the killer kidnaps his young niece.

The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971)

While not one of Argento’s personal favourites, there’s much to enjoy thanks to Arrow’s new HD transfer. Retro fans will swoon over the production design (the marble hall of the lab and the rooftop bar are big highlights, and Franciscus’ wardrobe is so cool); while the colour and lighting is trademark Argento, all deep rich tones – like a chiaroscuro painting brought to life. Meanwhile, Ennio Morricone supplies another superb score, this time featuring a catchy discordant melody.

The story is classic murder mystery – but with a modern (read 1970s) twist. Instead of the beautiful blonde being fought over (although there is a beauty present in the shapely form of French star Catherine Spaak), it’s a male gigolo who takes centre stage when one of the doctors becomes a suspect. And it’s this gay storyline as much as the violence (the strangulation scene is particularly nasty) that originally got 20-minutes cut from earlier versions of the film. But here it is uncut and ready for a new audience, and you really don’t have to be dedicated to Argento to love this Cat.

Arrow Video released the film in 2012 on DVD and on Limited Edition Blu-ray featuring a new HD transfer of the film in 2013.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Brand new High Definition transfer of the film (1080p)
  • Optional English & Italian Audio
  • Original uncompressed Mono Audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Dario’s Murderous Moggy: Dario Argento Remembers The Cat O’ Nine Tails (1080p)
  • Luigi Cozzi: Cat O’ Nine Tails in Reflection (1080p)
  • Sergio Martino: The Art and Arteries of the Giallo (1080p)
  • Original Italian Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve with original Artwork by Rick Melton

NOTE: If you want to hear the English audio, select it first as the release defaults to the original Italian audio. Also, don’t watch the special features until you have seen the movie, as they give away the surprise ending (actually so does the cover art, but its still the coolest scene of the movie).

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Diabolique (1955) | The Criterion Collection releases the mother of all shockers in HD

Diabolique (1955)

Director Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1955 French thriller Les Diaboliques (shortened to Diabolique in this Criterion Collection release) without doubt one of the finest whodunits ever made in the history of cinema and regarded by critics and fans alike as Europe’s answer to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (released five years later). It is, in my books, the mother of all shockers!

Véra Clouzot (the director’s wife) plays Cristiana (aka Cri Cri), the much put-upon wife of a sadistic boarding school head Michel (Paul Meurisse), who is coerced by his mistress Nicole (a tough, forbidding Simone Signoret in one of her best ever roles) into killing him and dumping his body in the school’s swimming pool. But when the pool is later drained, there’s no body and so the mystery begins.

Armed with a hotel key, found on the suit Michel was wearing the night he was killed, Christina begins her own investigation. But she, and Nicole, haven’t countered on the tenacity of a retired detective (Charles Vane) who is determined to prove he’s still got what it takes to solve the crime.

Diabolique (1955)

Even 60+ years after its initial release, this haunting thriller has never lost its potency, nor its ability to shock, thanks to a suspenseful script, carefully constructed pacing and the well-developed lead characters. Christina is so religious that she feels damned by her actions, yet Nicole is her polar opposite. Does she feel some affinity with Christina’s plight or is she preying on Christina’s weaknesses? Watching these two characters play off each other is what makes this film so unforgettable.

Diabolique (1955)

My favourite scenes are when Nicole and Christina put their murderous plan into action. I found myself watching their every move, hoping and praying nothing goes wrong. But of course it does, and – thanks to Clouzot’s eye – we, the audience, become complicit in the women’s actions.

Watch carefully and you will find that water features heavily throughout. The dripping tap, the highly decorative bath and the swimming pool are all symbols of death, best illustrated by a close-up of the bath drain (which Hitchcock would make his own in Psycho) and the emptying of the pool. So potent an image is the pool that it makes me wonder how many other films turn a swimming pool into a character itself.

Diabolique (1955)

Diabolique is a heart-grabbing benchmark in horror film-making and is a must-have for all world cinema fans. Back in 2011, a dual format UK release from Arrow Academy featured a HD transfer of the film from a new restoration of the original negative. Now, The Criterion Collection has released a UK Blu-ray version featuring the same digital restoration and the following special features…

• Uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Selected-scene commentary by French-film scholar Kelley Conway
• New video introduction by Serge Bromberg, codirector of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “Inferno
• New video interview with novelist and film critic Kim Newman
• Original theatrical trailer
• PLUS: An essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty

 

 

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Mildred Pierce (1945) | The mother of all melodramas starring Joan Crawford joins The Criterion Collection

Mildred Pierce (1945)

When it comes to high camp melodrama, director Michael Curtiz’s Mildred Pierce must be the mother of them all! Giving her best-ever performance, Joan Crawford plays the eponymous single mum who walks out on her husband Bert (Bruce Bennett aka cinema’s original Tarzan) so she can build a new life for her two daughters and ends up creating a restaurant chain empire that gives her fame and fortune but leaves her personal life in tatters – and murder…

Mildred Pierce (1945)

Nominated for six Academy Awards and scoring Crawford her only Best Actress Oscar, 1945’s Mildred Pierce transformed James M Cain’s 1941 psychological novel into a film noir murder mystery fused with a 1940s women’s picture. Maternal sacrifice never looked so melodramatic as played by Crawford, who is genuinely convincing as the unflappable Mildred who will do anything to achieve the American dream for the sake of her children – especially Veda, who causes her no end of grief.

Ann Blyth scored an Oscar nomination playing the deliciously mean-spirited spoiled brat, and became one of cinema’s all-time great villains as a result. And playing Mildred’s second husband Monte, Zachary Scott is the epitome of the worthless playboy who reminded me of Clifton Webb’s Waldo Lydecker in 1944’s Laura. Then there’s Eve Arden in the supporting role as Mildred’s loveable sidekick Ida, who provides the film with some truly quotable lines like: ‘Personally, Veda’s convinced me that alligators have the right idea. They eat their young’.

Mildred Pierce (1945)

But this film belongs to Crawford, who looks fantastic bathed in Ernest Haller’s expressionistic camerawork (he’d done wonders with Crawford’s nemesis Bette Davis in Jezebel and would lens them both in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?). And if you watch the feature-length documentary that accompanies the Criterion release, you’ll see that’s there’s quite a lot of Joan in her character – though probably not the mothering side.

Famously, Crawford didn’t attend the Oscars when she won the Best Actress award – instead, feigning sickness, the press were summoned to her home to see her accept the statuette. That’s our Joanie!

THE CRITERION COLLECTION RELEASE
• New 4K digital restoration
• New conversation about Mildred Pierce with critics Molly Haskell and Robert Polito (watch a clip above)
• Excerpt from a 1970 episode of The David Frost Show, featuring Joan Crawford
• Q&A with Ann Blyth from 2002
• Segment from a 1969 episode of The Today Show, featuring novelist James M Cain
• Trailer
• An essay by critic Imogen Sara Smith
• Also included is Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star: a fascinating Turner Classic documentary from 2002, narrated by Angelica Huston, that’s longer than the movie, but just as gripping and melodramatic. It traces Crawford’s entire life and career, beginning as a dancer from a impoverished background who learned her craft from an unlikely source (the legendary Lon Chaney) to the creation of the Crawford image as the reigning Queen of the Movies in the 1930s, before a drop in popularity forced her to reinvent herself. Her marriages, affairs and catfights with the likes of Bette Davis and Mercedes McCambridge are legend, as is her association with Pepsi-Cola and her struggles in later life taking on roles in B-movie shockers like Berserk and Trog that were well beneath her. Of course, since the publication of her adopted daughter Christina’s 1978 memoir Mommie Dearest, Crawford’s reputation has been forever tarnished. But this documentary sets out to reminds us that, despite all of her failings, Crawford was one of a kind – and someone who was the creation of her own indomitable will. Catch a clip here…

 

 

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Cul-de-sac (1966) | When Roman Polanski went rogue on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne – and won!

cul-de-sac

Plagued with production problems, director Roman Polanski’s 1966 black comedy Cul-de-sac should never have worked – but it did and remains a critical high-point of his early career. Having won plaudits and good box-office receipts for his first British-backed film, the psychological horror Repulsion (starring France’s new star Catherine Deneuve), Polanski was given free reign for his follow-up which is now available in a restored HD transfer edition as part of The Criterion Collection.

Cul de sac

Set on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne on the Northumberland coastline, Polanski fashioned a morbidly absurdist bourgeois-baiting tale with his long-time collaborator Gérard Brach.

Happening upon an castle on the coastline, wounded American gangster Richard (Lionel Stander) and his gravely ill accomplice Albert (Jack MacGowran) decide it an ideal hide and so take hostage its owners – retired businessman George (Donald Pleasence) and his restless French wife Teresa (Françoise Dorleac).

But the claustrophobic setting and long wait for help to arrive sets in motion increasingly disturbing games involving sexual and emotional humiliation between captor and couple that escalates into terrible violence…

Cul de sac

When Cul-de-sac was released in the UK in 1966 (check out the premiere clip below), audiences really didn’t take to the film (probably on account it was too bleak and not the psychological horror that they had hoped). But when it then won the Golden Bear at the 16th Berlin International Film Festival, it quickly gained a new appreciation – and so it should.

Cul de sac

From its outset, Polanski had faith in bringing his bleak comedy of manners to the big-screen and against the odds and by going rogue he achieved it.

A typically British summer (rain, snow and storms) and the wrong tides held up shooting, while method actors Stander and Pleasence caused ructions on set, and Polanski was accused of driving his cast and crew to exhaustion, hypothermia (MacGowran) and near death (Dorleac almost drowned) in order to finish the film to his exacting standards. Even the locals began to resent Polanski and co’s presence (especially in the local pubs).

Meanwhile, the film’s fed-up backers (Compton Films’ Tony Tenser and Michael Klinger) eventually shut down production after it overrun its budget– but not before Polanski had the film’s powerful 8-minute one-shot climax involving a Tiger Moth plane in the can.

Cul de sac

Donald Pleasence is in his element as the dotty fed-up George, and his performance ranks as one of his best (alongside his alcoholic doctor in 1971’s Wake in Fright). Françoise Dorleac is also perfectly cast (also at the last minute) as the hippy-like Teresa – and her character is the total anti-thesis of her sister Catherine Deneuve’s sexually repressive character in Repulsion. Then there’s the gravel-voiced Lionel Stander (who’d go onto play Max in TV’s Hart to Hart), who is outstandingly repellent as the chief thug. Tragically, Dorleac died in a car accident a year after appearing in the film.

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The other star of the film is Holy Island and the surrounding landscape, made luminous by Gilbert Taylor’s stark black-and-white photography – and the inclement weather (those skies are divine, especially when shot day for night).

And alongside the rich visuals is Krzysztof Komeda’s jaunty score that lends the film a sense of carnival and menace, two elements that are that the heart of this caustic satire (which would look terrific if it were adapted for the stage like Polanski’s follow-up film, Dance of the Vampires). Watch for Jacqueline (billed as Jackie) Bisset, briefly on screen in one of her earliest roles.

THE CRITERION COLLECTION RELEASE
• Restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Roman Polanski, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Two Gangsters and an Island: the 23-minute 2003 Blue Underground documentary (23min) about the making of the film, featuring interviews with Polanski, producers Gene Gutowski and Tony Tenser, and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor. Also participating are production designer Voyek, continuity Dee Vaughn and actor William Franklyn
• Archive TV interview with Polanski from 1967 (this is a fascinating insight into the young director’s cinematic vision about alienation, sex and his genuine dislike for the bourgeoisie)
• Theatrical trailers
• Plus, booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Thompson

 

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Assault On Precinct 13 (1976) | John Carpenter’s cult action thriller gets a 40th anniversary blu-ray release

Assault on Precinct 13

Violent, stylish and suspenseful, John Carpenter’s 1976 cult action thriller updates the plot of the 1959 John Wayne Western, Rio Bravo, to a modern setting in an LA ghetto.

Blaxploitation legend Austin Stoker is dogged lawman Lieutenant Ethan Bishop who takes command of a soon-to-be-mothballed police station on the night a street gang seeks vengeance over the violent deaths of four of its members in a police shoot-out.

With just two clerical staff (Laurie Zimmer and Nancy Loomis) and three convicts – including convicted Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston) – to help him defend the station, Bishop prepares to face the growing numbers of gang members gathering outside…

Assault on Precinct 13

‘Discovered’ by British audiences at the London Film Festival, Carpenter’s second film went on to become a cult sensation, and so pleased was he with the way that the UK distributor – one Michael Myers – handled the movie that he ended up naming the psycho killer in his follow-up master stroke, Halloween, in his honour.

Boosted by a terrific and hugely influential synth-heavy score, well-rounded characters, and visually arresting set-pieces (the Vanilla Twist ice cream scene with future Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kim Richards is a stand out), Carpenter’s seminal film remains a textbook example of how to make a low budget stretch a very long way, and puts that 2005 remake in the shade.

Assault on Precinct 13

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Second Sight is releasing a newly restored high definition version from a 1080p transfer in a Blu-ray box set, packed with special features including an early John Carpenter student short, as well as the original soundtrack CD and art cards, and is set for release on 28 November (along with a DVD version and On Demand. Check out the full specs below.

And if you want a chance of WINNING A BLU-RAY, then CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Captain Voyeur

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
• DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Uncompressed PCM original mono audio options
Return to Precinct 13: A new Interview with Austin Stoker
Producing Precinct 13: A new interview with Joseph Kaufman
Filmmaking with John: A new interview with Tommy Lee Wallace
• Interview with John Carpenter and Austin Stoker
The Sassy One with Nancy Loomis
• Audio commentaries with John Carpenter and Tommy Lee Wallace
Captain Voyeur: John Carpenter student short (Blu-ray exclusive)
Do You Remember Laurie Zimmer: documentary film (Blu-ray exclusive)
• Five art cards (Limited Edition box set exclusive)
• CD soundtrack disc (Limited Edition box set exclusive)
• Trailer
• Radio spots

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The Blue Dahlia (1945) | Raymond Chandler’s only original screenplay is a hard-boiled film noir classic must-see

The Blue Dahlia (1945)The classic 1940s noir thriller, The Blue Dahlia, stars Alan Ladd as discharged naval flier Johnny Morrison who returns home to Los Angeles to discover his wife Helen (Doris Dowling) has been unfaithful. When she is found murdered, Johnny becomes the prime suspect and promptly goes on the run.

The always gorgeous Veronica Lake then turns up as Joyce, the wife of nightclub owner Eddie Harwood (Howard Da Silva) – who was Helen’s lover – and with the help of Johnny’s army pals, Buzz (William Bendix) and George (Hugh Beaumont), tries to clear his name…

The Blue Dahlia (1945)

Crime writer Raymond Chandler scored an Oscar nomination for his lean and mean original screenplay. It was the only one he ever wrote specifically for a movie and one in which he completed while ‘drunk’ when production was speeded up on the film because Paramount studio bosses feared Ladd would be re-inducted into the real-life US army.

The film, which was directed by George Marshall (of Destry Rides Again fame), also marked the third pairing of Ladd and Veronica Lake following 1942’s This Gun for Hire (which made Ladd a star) and The Glass Key (also available from Arrow Academy). It was released to great acclaim and has since become a must-see film noir classic.

The Blue Dahlia (1945)

William Bendix is a standout as Ladd’s shell-shocked war buddy who keeps complaining of ‘monkey-music’ in his head and the complicated story – all set in Hollywood’s decadent night club strip – keeps twisting brilliantly until the final cop-out ending (that was also done to placate the US war office).

A radio play version of the film was broadcast on 21 April 1949 as part of the The Screen Guild Theater, starring Ladd and Lake in their original film roles.

The Blue Dahlia is out now on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy in the UK. The extras include selected scene commentary and an introduction from author Frank Krutnik, the 1949 radio play, original trailer, gallery and promotional materials. Plus, a collector’s booklet (first pressing only).

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High-Rise (2015) | Ben Wheatley’s brutal, bonkers blend of black humour, horror and anarchy is a winner

High-Rise

JG Ballard’s cult 1975 novel gets the big-screen treatment from Ben Wheatley (Kill List/Sightseers) and the result is a blackly comic vision of a dystopian Britain on the brink of social meltdown.

High-Rise


Neurologist Dr Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) has just got the keys to his new pad in a luxury 40ft-storey west London tower block. But while he just wants some peace and quiet, the building and its residents have other ideas. Conceived by its rooftop-dwelling architect Anthony Royal(Jeremy Irons) as a ‘crucible for change’, the building starts to have a startling effect on its tenants.

When the veneer of civilisation begins to collapse, class war breaks out between the upper and lower floors, and Laing finds himself struggling to keep his sanity and decorum in check as the other residents, including free-spirited secretary Charlotte (Sienna Miller), arrogant TV documentary film-maker Wilder (Luke Evans), and heavily pregnant Helen (Elizabeth Moss), are swept up in the orgy of violence…


Ben Wheatley and his screenwriter wife Amy Jump have done a swell job translating Ballard’s cult novel to the big screen, but the film’s ultimate success rests on the evocative retro 1970s production design, the impressive ensemble cast, and the atmospheric electronic score.

High-Rise

Having set the film in 1975, we get a Brutalist tower block much like London’s Barbican Estate (said to be one of Ballard’s inspirations) and one which echoes the bleak urban spaces used in futuristic 1970s thrillers like Rollerball and Soylent Green.

The period furnishings, fashions and grooming styles, and the inclusion of Portishead crooning to Abba’s SOS (which came out the same year), lend the grey surroundings some colourful respite, while Clint Mansell’s electronic score reverberates throughout the concrete corridors like sublimal aural wallpaper that’s a portent of the destructive things to come.

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Stark, stylishly and boldly bonkers brilliant, its a full-on assault of the senses that not only does justice to the Ballardian themes of the novel, it also evokes the cinema of Lindsay Anderson, particularly his 1982 state-of-the nation satire Britannia Hospital, and David Cronenberg, who also turned Ballard’s Crash into a controversial adaptation in 1996.

High-Rise is out on digital download from 11 July from StudioCanal, followed by its Blu-ray and DVD release on 18 July.

Blood Bath (1966) | Roger Corman’s Operation: Vampire Psycho Killer Thriller Murder Mystery gets the Arrow treatment

Blood Bath (1966)

If you have ever wondered why the 1966 American International Pictures’ drive-in horror Blood Bath looks like it was shot by Orson Welles in an exotic European locale, then this latest Arrow release was made just for you. Containing four separate films, Operation Titian (1963), Portrait in Terror (1965), Blood Bath (1966) and Track of the Vampire (1967) and an insightful visual essay, this limited edition box-set is must-have for fans of 1960s schlock and the cinema of the king of the B’s Roger Corman.

Operacija Ticijan (1963)

When it hit the drives in 1966, Blood Bath put a surreal psycho sexual vampiric spin on Roger Corman’s Bucket of Blood, and weaved into its oddball tale of a tortured Californian artist (William Campbell) haunted by an ancestor’s sorceress mistress, were four-minutes of moody shots lifted from a Yugoslavian murder mystery called Operation Titian.

Directed by Rados Novakovic, this 1963 Edgar Wallace-styled whodunit followed two homicide detectives in Dubrovnik investigating a murder linked to a long-lost Titian painting that is also being sought by an Italian criminal (Patrick Magee) and being obsessed over by fantasist artist (Campbell).

Operacija Ticijan (1963)

Operacija Ticijan (1963)

Making great use of the baroque splendour of the ancient renaissance port city, and shot with an eye to Orson Welles, the atmospheric thriller was re-edited for the US market with a 24-year-old Francis Ford Coppola as its new story editor. But Corman was unhappy with the results and put another assistant, Stephanie Rothman, in charge of adding in some new scenes. Portrait in Terror, which it was then retitled, was later released direct to TV as part of AIP’s 1967 Amazing Adventures collection.

Blood Bath (1966)

Still wanting to make use of Operation Titan, Corman hired Jack Hill to turn it into a horror film. Adding surreal elements, some Charles Addams visuals and neatly incorporating Wellesian imagery shot around Venice Beach, Hill fashioned his first cut as psycho thriller before he had to move onto a project that would become one of his best known works: Spider Baby. Rothman was then drafted to complete the picture, and decided on turning it into a vampire movie.

But with William Campbell no longer available, a double was used for the new scenes. The 69-minute Blood Bath was the result. And adding to the hodgepodge was a soundtrack of Ronald Stein scores lifted from The Undead and The Haunted Palace. Too short for a TV release, Rothman was back on board to pad the film out with 8-minutes of running about and a 4-minute spontaneous dance scene. This new edit would be re-titled Track of the Vampire.

Blood Bath (1966)

Operacija Ticijan (1963)

For many, this is the first time that Operation Titian has been made available, and it’s a revelation (I’ve now started seeking out the other films of its Serbian director). And despite its flaws, seeing a restored version of Blood Bath, is also a real treat. As for Portrait in Terror and Track of the Vampire, well it will certainly please the completists, but they are missable in my book.

What’s not missable, however, is Tim Lucas’ visual essay. Engrossing and illuminating, his feature-length analysis of Blood Bath’s convoluted history makes revisiting the film and its various versions all the more rewarding. It also ends a chapter in the film historian’s life-long quest in connecting the dots to Roger Corman’s horror, which also serves to highlight the maverick producer’s ‘rich engendering of films and film-makers’.

Operacija Ticijan (1963)


Blood Bath: Arrow BoxsetSpecial Features
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of four versions of the film: Operation Titian, Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire
• Brand new 2K restorations of Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire from original film materials
• Brand new reconstruction of Operation Titian using original film materials and standard definition inserts
• Optional English subtitles on all four versions
The Trouble with Titian Revisited – Tim Lucas examines the convoluted production history of Blood Bath and its multiple versions
Bathing in Blood with Sid Haig – New interview with the actor
• Archive interview with producer-director Jack Hill
• Stills gallery
• Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artworks
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford
• Limited edition booklet

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) | The Gothic giallo cult gets a definitive re-release

The Night That Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

A cacophony of crazed, cruel, camp characters, cockamamie plot, killer soundtrack, kaleidoscopic visuals and cool 70s fashions and furniture, Emilio Miraglia’s 1971 Italian giallo horror thriller, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, is one helluva ride.

For decades, the only way to see the film was in dreadful pan and scan VHS and DVD releases or in butchered TV edits, which denied fans the chance of witnessing Miraglia’s visual treat in all its eye-popping splendor. But Arrow’s restored 2K release has gore-geously redressed this, bringing genre fans the definitive version of the compelling Eurotrash cult favourite.

The Night That Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

 

The scenario (co-written by Massimo Felisatti, Strip Nude for Your Killer) is typical giallo, filled with planet-sized plot-holes and ridiculous red-herrings, but Miraglia fuses it with Gothic horror devices that turn the whodunit into a dark fairytale: like an S&M version of Roger Corman’s Tomb of Ligeia meets Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Béte on an acid trip.

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Set in an England that looks like Veneto, Italy (basically because that’s where the film was shot), La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba (to give it’s Italian title) centres on wealthy aristocrat Alan (Anthony Steffen), who has turned into a psychotic killer of redheaded prostitutes and strippers as a result of his late wife Evelyn cheating on him. In a bid to control his urges, his doctor convinces him to remarry another redhead (go figure), called Gladys (Marina Malfatti – who passed away aged 76 this week). But Alan’s mental state unravels when Gladys raises his suspicions that Evelyn faked her death to elope with her mystery lover.

The Night That Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

What happens next is either inspired lunacy or just outright crazy… depending on how you like you giallo. But it does involve Evelyn’s ghoulish return (as promised in the original film posters), a cage of foxes chewing on intestines, someone being bitten by a deadly snake, and lots of nipple shots.

However Miraglia’s pièce de résistance is a real doozy of a climax involving a white-tiled modernist pad smeared in the blood of two knife-wielding redheads – oh, and a pool of sulphuric acid. And bringing all of this together is Bruno Nicolai’s evocative soundtrack which is so lush and hypnotic, you’ll be searching the internet for a copy as soon as the end credits roll.

Killer DamesTHE ARROW FEATURES
When it comes to these heavily dubbed Euro thrillers, it is always a challenge deciding which audio track to choose. The Arrow Video 2k release has both Italian and English soundtracks as options, with new English subtitles on both. I tried the English first, but frankly hated the fake posh accents, so went back to Italian, which is way more preferable.

Giallo specialist Troy Howarth supplies an informative audio commentary, while writer Stephen Thrower shines a light on the film’s production history. There’s also a new interview with Erika Blanc, who elaborates (quite theatrically) about her big scene in which she rises from a coffin bum first; and an archival interview with Blanc (in which she says basically the same things). But my favourite extra is an archival interview with Lorenzo Baraldi, the art director responsible for the film’s fab 70s stylings. In my book, he’s the film’s real hero.

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is a dual format release available from Arrow Video as part of their Killer Dames box-set.

She’s So Giallo | London’s Barbican to showcase the Women of 1970s Italian Thrillers

She's So Giallo

From 7th-28th June at the Barbican Centre in London, Cigarette Burns is celebrating the women of 1970s Italian thrillers with four classic and under-screened examples of the giallo genre, presented on rare 16mm and 35mm prints.

195824fliesleadeventFirst up will be Dario Argento’s third feature, 1971’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet starring Mimsy Farmer as the partner of a musician who’s being harassed by an unknown murderer. Featuring a knock-out Morricone score, the screening (on 7 June at 8.30pm) will be introduced by Argento biographer, Alan Jones.
TICKETS HERE

 

19583oneontopleadeventOn 14 June, comes Lucio Fulci’s little-seen 1969 giallo debut, One On Top of the Other (aka Perversion Story) starring Marisa Mell as a stripper who causes a doctor to question his sanity. Set to a funky Riz Ortolani groove, the film will be introduced by Fulci biographer Stephen Thrower.
TICKETS HERE

 

19584frightenedwomanleadeventOn 22 June, Virginie Sélavy, editor of Electric Sheep magazine, will introduce Piero Schivazappa’s 1969 thriller The Frightened Woman starring Dagmar Lassander as a journalist who becomes the victim of a doctor’s his unpleasant and degrading games.
TICKETS HERE

 

 

19585coloursofthedarkeventAnd the season concludes on 29 June with Sergio Martino’s psychedelic giallo masterpiece All the Colors of the Dark starring genre favourite Edwige Fenech as a woman who falls prey to a satanic cult in Swinging London.
TICKETS HERE

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