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The Emilio Miraglia Killer Queen Box Set:
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave
The Red Queen Kills 7 Times

The Emilio Miraglia Killer Queen Box Set
No Shame
1971-72 / Color / 2:35 anamorphic 16:9 / Street Date April 25, 2006 / 34.95
Production Designer Lorenzo Baraldi
Film Editor Romeo Ciatti
Original Music Bruno Nicolai
Directed by Emilio P. Miraglia
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave
Starring Marina Malfati, Erica Blanc, Anthony Steffen (Antonio de Teffé), Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Umberto Raho
Cinematography Gastone di Giovanni
Written by Massimo Felisatti, Fabio Pittorru, Emilio P. Miraglia
The Red Queen Kills 7 Times
Starring Barbara Bouchet, Marina Malfatti, Ugo Pagliai, Marino Masé, Sybil Danning
Cinematography Alberto Spagnoli
Written by Fabio Pittorru, Emilio P. Miraglia

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Horror film aficionados have no shortage of Italian slasher and giallo DVDs to pick from, and No Shame Films steps to the front of the crowd with this attention-getting limited edition 2-disc boxed set. The oversized box holds a toy figurine of the villainess known as the Red Queen: A masked redhead in black tights and a red cape, brandishing a bloody dagger.

Red-headed women must have been a personal issue with director Emilio P. Miraglia, as both of these blatantly misogynistic exercises in bloodshed have murderous, scheming women at their center. In a genre not known for subtlety, these pictures take the attitude that any female not under the firm control of a man is a potential sex maniac.

1971's The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba) exploits mental illness to present a string of sadistic sexual murders. Wealthy Englishman Alan Cunningham (Antonio De Teffé, billed as Anthony Steffen) is obsessed with his unfaithful, dead wife Evelyn. He invites similar red-headed prostitutes and entertainers to the secret playrooms in his crumbling castle for sadistic games of seduction and murder. Both Alan's groundsman and his jaded Uncle (Roberto Maldera) seem aware of his activities, but only Alan's friend Dr. Richard Timberlane (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) suggests that the troubled young playboy has a serious problem. Alan is visited by recurring nightmares in which he sees his perfidious Evelyn running to the waiting arms of another man.

Alan picks up a nightclub stripper (Erica Blanc) as his next victim and then chances upon Gladys (Marina Malfatti) at a posh garden party for swingers. He marries Gladys and brings her home to the Cunningham manor, at which point terrible things begin to happen. The visions of Evelyn return. Gladys investigates Evelyn's crypt, which is proven to be empty. A relative in a wheelchair loses her life to a caged pack of coyotes on the Cunningham grounds. And Alan is convinced he's going insane when he sees Evelyn standing in the garden, her face a rotted skull.

Alan's problems all turn out to be a dastardly series of plots within plots. The intended appeal of The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is in its lovingly photographed killings and several extended nude sequences. Alan's torture chamber victims happily strip for their lover before he reaches for his bullwhip. Alan's memory of Evelyn is a dreamy slow-motion reverie of the naked woman bounding through the greenery. Every killing is associated with nudity, and killing women is presented as a logical result of sexual attraction.

The thoughtless ending of Emilio Miraglia's film resolves the conspiracy against Alan but drops the issue of his own bloody sex killings as if it wasn't important: With the "evil" women now dead, Alan is now cured, and his victims can be forgotten.

The next year's The Red Queen Kills 7 Times (La dama rossa uccide sette volte) is a more traditional murder mystery made by most of the same creative team from Evelyn. This time the setting is a castle in Germany, where the Wildenbrück family is visited by a curse involving ill-fated twins and a murderous phantom known as The Red Queen. A prologue establishes the back story in which little Kitty Wildenbrück accidentally kills her sister. The girls' grandfather answers their questions about family portrait -- of a lady with a bloody knife standing over her victim.

Years later Kitty (now Barbara Bouchet) is running an upscale fashion photography studio when more kiliings of women occur. First Rosemary (Maria Pia Giancaro) is attacked in a delivery vehicle and then the gorgeous but predatory model Lulu (Sybil Danning) meets a bloody end. The police are skeptical when witnesses report a mysterious person known as the "Red Queen" running from the murder scenes. Suspicion falls on fashion executive Martin Hoffman (Ugo Pagliai) when he benefits from the murder of a superior.

The mystery leads to more murders as Kitty and her other sister Franziska (Marina Malfatti again) try to avoid becoming the Red Queen's next victim. New revelations in the Wildenbrück castle are cut short when the real villain floods the crypt with Kitty trapped inside. Director Emilio Miraglia directs both pictures with a sure hand, emphasizing every exploitable turn of events. Casual nudity is encouraged and the cinematography emphasizes the glamour of the threatened females. They may be slashed to bits, but their hair always looks great. Red Queen makes good use of German locations while Evelyn presents a post-Mod England that looks suspiciously like the Roman suburbs.

No Shame's two-disc Emilio Miraglia Killer Queen Box Set will be a tasty treat for fans of bloody murder pictures featuring nude female victims. The enhanced 2:35 transfers are very handsome indeed, with perfect color and little if any signs of wear. Both features are uncut versions from the original negatives, presented with Italian and English mono soundtracks and removable English subtitles. The atmospheric music scores are by Bruno Nicolai.

New interviews with Erica Blanc, designer Lorenzo Baraldi and actor Marino Masé are spread out across the two films; Red Queen's extras include an alternate opening scene.

The novelty packaging for the limited edition features the above-mentioned Red Queen figurine. No Shame's keep case contains a pair of miniature lobby cards and a fat illustrated insert booklet crammed with essays and talent bios written by Chris D. and Richard Harland Smith.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
The Emilio Miraglia Killer Queen Box Set rates:
Movies: Good
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: Interviews with Erica Blanc, Mariano Masé and Lorenzo Baraldi, alternate opening for Re Queen, booklet, Collectable "Red Queen" figurine.
Packaging: 2 discs in Keep case in oversized "toy included" show box.
Reviewed: April 2, 2006

Republished by permission of Turner Classic Movies.

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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