The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) | The Gothic giallo cult gets a definitive re-release
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 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.
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.
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.
THE 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
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.
First 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.
On 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.
On 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.
And 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.
Killer Dames | A double-bill of Emilio Miraglia’s demented 1970s giallo
Emilio P Miraglia’s The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) and The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972) get the Arrow Video treatment on Blu-ray and DVD in a restored, limited edition collection out now.
At the height of the 1970s Italian giallo boom in the early 1970s, scores of filmmakers turned their hand to crafting their own unique takes on these lurid murder-mystery thrillers. One of those was Emilio P Miraglia, who conceived two twisty whodunit narratives with gothic chills.
In The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, troubled aristocrat Alan Cunningham (Anthony Steffen), haunted by the death of his first wife Evelyn, tries to move on by marrying the seductive Gladys (Marina Malfatti). Marital bliss is short-lived, however, as various relatives meet untimely and gruesome deaths, prompting speculation that a vengeful Evelyn has risen from the grave…
In The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, an age-old family curse hits sisters Kitty (Barbara Bouchet) and Franziska (Marina Malfatti) following the death of their grandfather Tobias (Rudolf Schündler). Every hundred years, so the legend goes, the bloodthirsty Red Queen returns and claims seven fresh victims. Was Tobias just the first… and are Kitty and Franziska next?
The Arrow Video limited edition box set (3000 copies) features 2K restorations of both films from the original camera negatives in High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD; Italian and English soundtracks; newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks; and optional English subtitles for the English soundtracks. Plus, a 60-page collector’s booklet, reversible sleeves featuring artwork by Gilles Vranckx, and a host of extras (check them out below).
THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE
• 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 theatrical trailer
THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES
• Audio commentary by Alan Jones and Kim Newman
• Exclusive new interview with actress Sybil Danning
• 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 Favorite… Films – archival interview with actress Barbara Bouchet
• Alternative opening
• Original Italian theatrical trailer
Luciano Ercoli’s 1970s Death Walks Twice gialli are a camp cult scream
From Arrow Video comes the restored, limited edition release on Blu-ray and DVD of Luciano Ercoli’s Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight starring giallo icon Nieves Navarro (aka Susan Scott).
In 1971’s Death Walks on High Heels (La morte cammina con i tacchi alti), Navarro plays Parisian nightclub dancer Nicole, the daughter of a murdered jewel thief, who encounters a black-clad assailant with piercing blue eyes demanding to know the location of her father’s stolen diamonds. Suspecting her jealous lover Michel (Simón Andreu) is her assailant, Nicole leaves for London with her wealthy admirer, Dr Robert Matthews (Frank Wolff). But death stalks her at every turn…
In 1972’s Death Walks at Midnight (La morte accarezza a mezzanotte), Navarro takes on the role of glamour model Valentina, who asks her photographer and on/off lover Gio (again played by Simón Andreu) to film her whilst under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. In the midst of the high she witnesses a murder, which turns out to have taken place six months earlier. When Valentina sees the killer again, she turns sleuth to solve the mystery…
Coming out of the giallo boom in the early 1970s and owing a debt to Dario Argento’s Bird With a Crystal Plumage, Ercoli’s Death Walks psycho-thrillers are a camp cult treat serving up twisted and perverse plots which verge on spoofs of Alfred Hitchcock and Edgar Wallace, dressed in the most seductive of 1970s stylings imaginable and set to some stirring Stelvio Cipriani soundtrack scores.
While giallo fans can’t praise High Heels high enough, I found it way too convoluted, poorly structured, and deeply sexist. And when you finally get to the well-executed finale (after one WTF twist a la Psycho), you wonder why it took so many sideways paths to get to the bleeding obvious.
Midnight, on the other hand, is an über stylish treat and a real hoot to boot. I can watch this one over and over just for Navarro’s captivating performance as the resilient heroine (she should have got her own TV crime series), the gorgeous palette and production design, and the inventive camerawork. For me, this was Rear Window meets Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
The limited edition Arrow Video release (3000 copies) feature new 2K restorations of both films from the original film elements, presented on Blu-ray and standard DVD, with the original Italian and English soundtracks to choose from, and new English subtitles. A 60-page book is included along with an array of special features on each disc.
DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS
• Audio commentary from Tim Lucas
• Introduction by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
• From Spain with Love: Archive interview with director Luciano Ercoli and actress/wife Nieves Navarro
• Master of Giallo: screenwriter Gastaldi on how to write a successful giallo
• Death Walks to the Beat: Interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani
• Original Italian and English trailers
DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT
• Audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas
• Introduction by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
• Extended TV version of the feature
• Crime Does Pay: screenwriter Gastaldi on crime film writing
• Desperately Seeking Susan: an academic visual essay by Michael Mackenzie
Five Dolls for an August Moon (1970) | Mario Bava’s pop art whodunit is simply ravishing on Blu-ray
With a Pop Art nod to Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit, Ten Little Indians, Mario Bava’s 1970 giallo Five Dolls for an August Moon (aka 5 bambole per la luna d’agosto) is a tour de force, while Arrow Video’s new HD restoration release is a must-have. And here’s why…
Playboy industrialist George Stark (Teodora Corrà) gathers a group of bourgeois friends at his beach house retreat for the weekend, where the guest of honour is Professor Farrell (William Berger (Faccia a Faccia), a brilliant chemist who has developed a new formula for a revolutionary synthetic resin. Armed with $1m cheques, the guests try to woo Farrell, but he’s just not interested. The potential investors then turn on each other, with one of them restorting to murder to get their hands on the formula…
Maria Bava called Five Dolls his worst film and said he only did it for the money. But I think he does it an injustice (and it’s not anywhere as bad as Dr Goldfoot & the Girls Bombs). OK, it might have a wayward narrative, but it’s difficult not to get carried away by Bava’s dazzling visuals and production design, the camera and editing, the jazzy go-go lounge score, and the colourful characters, played by genre favourites, including Edwige Fenech and Howard Ross.
A master of the giallo, each time Bava returned to the genre he tried something different. This misfire, which he edited as well as directed, is no exception. If his Girl Who Knew Too Much was a ‘monochrome Hitchcockian masterpiece in terror‘, and his Blood and Black Lace, a ‘spellbinding essay in sexual perversity‘, then his Five Dolls is a dazzling Pop Art portrait of bourgeois excess, brought to maximum effect by the film’s gaudy fashions, modernist décor, and sly camera tricks (especially those purposefully hilarious close-ups).
While Bava’s slasher prototype Bay of Blood showed us each murder in explicit gory detail, all the deaths in Five Dolls occur off-screen. But it doesn’t matter, as Bava comes up with a gleefully grim-tastic device: wrapping his corpses in plastic and then having them hang them like butcher meat in a freezer to the tune of some off-key carousel music.
And speaking of music, the film’s kitsch jazz lounge score is by Piero Umiliani, who is best known for the novelty song Mah Nà, Mah Nà, which I’ve always associated with Sesame Street. But it was actually first used in an Italian mondo called Sweden Heaven and Hell. Now, I’ll never think of it the same way.
I can’t stress how gorgeous the Arrow Video restoration release looks on Blu-ray, which I’ve watched three times now (one for the film itself, one with Tim Lucas’ hugely informative audio commentary, and one with just that brilliant music). Which means I can finally chuck my copy of 2001 Image Entertainment DVD release.
THE ARROW VIDEO RELEASE
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations, re-mastered from the original film elements. Once you’ve seen this, you’ll be chucking out your old DVD versions (which is exactly what I did).
• Optional English and Italian soundtracks in original uncompressed mono PCM audio.
• Optional isolated Music and Effects track: If you don’t already have the Cinevox OST CD then this is the closest you’ll get to hearing Piero Umiliani’s knockout score, which includes his Eyes Without a Face homage, Fantoccio Grottesco.
• Optional English subtitles for the Italian audio and English subtitles
• Tim Lucas audio commentary: This is a must-hear as Lucas provides some amazing insights into the film’s production and underlying themes. But be prepared for some big reveals (like the fact the fab house is just a matt painting and a studio set).
• Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre: This documentary may be 16 years old, but it does boast some informative interviews with genre favourites Joe Dante, John Carpenter and Tim Burton.
• Theatrical trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Collector’s booklet featuring articles on Bava’s film and exploitation distributor Edwin John (EJ) Fancey.
Dario Argento’s Deep Red gets a limited edition 4k restoration release exclusively from Arrow Video
Dario Argento’s 1975 giallo masterpiece, Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso/The Hatchet Murders) is getting amust-have release from Arrow Video. Limited to 5000 copies, this 3-disc box-set includes the new 4k transfer of both the international cut and the director’s cut, plus a mausoleum’s worth of bonus content, alongside the complete 28-track original soundtrack recording, an exclusive booklet, a postcard set, and artwork by Gilles Vranckx. Here are the full specs. My review will follow shortly…
3-DISC LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of two versions of the film
• Original Italian soundtrack in DTS-HD MA mono 1.0 and lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, and original English soundtrack in DTS-HD MA mono 1.0
• English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the English soundtrack
• Limited Edition Soundtrack CD
• 6 x postcard-sized lobby card reproductions
• Reversible fold out poster featuring two original artworks
• Reversible sleeve featuring artwork by Gilles Vranckx
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Italian Giallo Film writer Mikel J Koven and archive piece by Alan Jones (who did the definitive book on Argento)
DEEP RED: ORIGINAL VERSION (BLU-RAY DISC 1)
• Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative
• Isolated Score in Stereo 2.0
• Audio Commentary with Argento expert Thomas Rostock
• Introduction to the film by Claudio Simonetti
• Profondo Giallo: Visual essay by Michael Mackenzie
• Rosso Recollections: Dario Argento’s Deep Genius: A look at the giallo’s creation by the director himself
• The Lady in Red: Daria Nicolodi on Profondo Rosso
• Music to Murder For! Claudio Simonetti on Deep Red
• Profondo Rosso: From Celluloid to Shop – a tour of Luigi Cozzi’s Profondo Rosso shop in Rome
• Italian Trailer
DEEP RED: EXPORT VERSION (BLU-RAY DISC 2) [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
• Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative
• US Theatrical Trailer
PROFONDO ROSSO: THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK RECORDING (CD DISC 3) [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
• 28-track CD featuring Goblin’s entire Deep Red film score