Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)

A masterclass in how to make a sleazy and crazy giallo out of a straightforward old chestnut of an idea (in this case driving someone who’s rich insane so you can get their money), THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE starts as it means to incoherently go on with its central character, Lord Alan Cunningham (Anthony Steffen) escaping from a psychiatric clinic. This opening isn’t too bad – he’s pursued by white coated orderlies across an overgrown coliseum that just happens to be in the grounds before being dragged back once he gets to the perimeter fence and despite a bit too much gurning from our hero it’s intriguing enough to engage our interest. The problem is I still have no idea where this bit of the film, played out before the main titles begin, is meant to fit into the plot. Once the credits are out of the way we’re in Lord Alan’s car, where he’s in the company of an attractive young redhead he’s picked up in a bar, He stops for no other reason than to pull at her hair (“To see if it’s a wig”) and so he can get out and take off the car’s false number plates. He gets back into his Italian car before they set off for his isolated Italian villa set in the depths of the English (according to the film) countryside, where he makes her wear nothing but a pair of black knee length boots before chasing her around his very own torture dungeon with a whip. Only the most tenuous of reasons is ever given for Alan’s preponderance for doing this, and a bit later on he does it to Erika Blanc as well. Evelyn, by the way, is Lord Alan’s late wife whom he caught having a naked assignation with a lover in a field. There’s an awful lot of female nudity in this film, even for an early seventies EuroHorror, in fact one might go so far as to call it excessive and gratuitous. Anyway, Evelyn died in childbirth and now Alan keeps a painting of her in his bedroom, which if nothing else should be a big warning beacon to all the girls he brings back. As well as a torture dungeon, a predilection for whipping redheads and presumably a psychiatric history, Alan also has one of the most outrageous wardrobes ever to grace an Italian horror film. A maroon suede suit the jacket of which laces up the back, a crimson double breasted jacket with lapels so big they have their own brass buttons to hold them in place, and an assortment of trousers of such outrageous hues it’s a wonder everyone around him doesn’t keep their sunglasses on. In fact with those kinds of clothes it’s a wonder anyone thinks he isn’t already insane.
            Alan gets a new wife who doesn’t have red hair but does wear outfits with such outrageously plunging necklines it looks as if her breasts aren’t so much falling out as actively trying to throw themselves into plain sight. She also possesses quite possibly the skimpiest night attire ever seen in a movie as well as an Alice in Wonderland outfit that she puts on to go and investigate the crypt.
            And does Evelyn actually get to come out of the grave? Well, kind of, but like I said, it’s all part of the most ridiculously convoluted plot to drive Lord Alan mad when he already seems to be well on the way without any aid at all. The denouement piles twist upon twist but best of all is the climactic fight by the swimming pool next to which has been precariously placed a big sack of Sulphuric Acid which doubtless carries the warning in Italian ‘Do Not Throw In Swimming Pool’. The final fade out of the villain being carried towards the camera with his legs wide apart is merely the daft icing on a very silly cake indeed, making THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE a movie best suited for those who like their thrillers outrageous in every meaning of the word.


  1. Where the heck do I get hold of this one? Sounds deliciously an insanely daft fun (as do most of your viewing selections, come to think of it...).. =D

  2. Thanks Simon! There are quite a few Region 1 public domain copies floating around for a couple of dollars, or at least there used to be. I understand some of these are different edits as well for maximum incoherent fun!

  3. This is a great movie. Absolutly mental, in parts incomprehensible, but the partys are like out of a steampunk-comic. Only Jerry Cornelious is missing here.

    A truly must see!

  4. Jerry Cornelius! Now there's a thought - many of the gialli play out as if they are taking place in the kind of bizarre parallel universe he occupied. Good call - I'd never thought of that before!

  5. Didn't Jerry Cornelius come out in a movie already called the Final Programme


    With Jon Finch as Jerry Cornellius.

  6. As for funny gialli, just watched My Dear Killer


    Not bad but I found a scene funny where the victim is talking to her friend about a bad spaghetti western she is watching on TV.

    Talk about cross genre.

  7. I was referring to the novel of The Final Programme which was written in 1965 - it would be interesting to know how much the four Cornelius novels permeated 'trendy' society to the extent they might have influenced Italian horror cinema!

  8. well the giallo movies are set in the "groovy" 1960s just like the Jerry Cornelius novels.

  9. Indeed! And I have to say I love that groovy world!