Friday, 20 May 2016

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)

One of my all-time favourite daft giallos gets a splendid Blu-ray release courtesy of Arrow Films as part of its Emilio P Miraglia Killer Dames box set, which also features THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES. I reviewed EVELYN on here a while ago, and what I had to say then is reproduced below. I’ll be back at the end, though, to talk about the extras on the new disc.

Note the presumably small budget afforded the costume design here
A masterclass in how to make a sleazy 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. 

Walking corpse with red hair plus thunderstorm = 1970s Italian horror!
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. 

Just another quiet night at home in 1970s giallo-land
Only the most tenuous of reasons is ever given for Alan’s preponderance for doing this (he does it to Erika Blanc in a bit as well), other than of course we’re in Italian film land. Evelyn 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, even for an early seventies EuroHorror, in fact one might go so far as to call it excessive and gratuitous). She died in childbirth and now he 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. 

Every element of this still is what today's cinema needs more of
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 to grace an Italian horror film, which is saying something. 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. With those kinds of clothes it’s a wonder anyone thinks he isn’t already insane. 

The legs are nice but just look at that staircase.
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 hardened addicts of this kind of thing.
          Arrow’s transfer is excellent. Extras comes in the form of a new feature length fact-packed chatty commentary by Troy Howarth that makes for pleasant listening. We also get twelve minutes of Stephen Thrower talking about the picture (double-billed with Ferdinando di Leo\s equally barmy ASYLUM EROTICA in the UK!). There’s a new introduction to the movie by Erika Blanc, and her old intro from the NoShame release had been ported over, as well as the extras from that disc. A very nice package indeed for EVELYN fans everywhere. 

Emilio P Miraglia's charmingly incoherent / barking mad THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE is being released on Blu-ray and DVD by Arrow Films as part of their Killer Dames box set on Monday 23rd of May


  1. Excellent, as ever. I wonder why the lady on the double-cover looks cross-eyed?

  2. Also one of my favorites. When I watched it the first time I found it unbelievable. I prefer it to "Red Queen" with its weak ending.