Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972)

“From giallo’s decadent period” Kim Newman states on his and Alan Jones’ commentary to this, Emilio P Miraglia’s other giallo, now released along with its companion piece THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE in Arrow’s Killer Dames box set.

RED QUEEN is certainly from the period when Italy’s murder-mystery cinema went into some kind of drug-fuelled nudity-filled ludicrous fashion-overloaded overdrive, with a killer in every shadow, a bottle of J&B on every bedside table, and several crazy twists before we finally got to the end. If this sounds great then you'll be pleased to learn this one is no different. 

In 1958 (we eventually work out) an elderly man tells his two granddaughters of the legend of the huge painting depicting a brutal murder that’s hanging on his living room wall. “I had hoped I wouldn’t have to tell you about this,” he says, which makes you wonder why he hadn’t had the picture taken down years ago and replaced it with some puppies.

There’s some kind of curse involving a red queen and a black queen that’s tied to the house and the two sisters who live in it that’s doomed to be repeated every one hundred years. Flash forward to 1972 (after a title sequence featuring one of my favourite Bruno Nicolai scores) and blonde granddaughter Kitty has grown into even blonder Barbara Bouchet. Kitty’s sister is ‘in America’ which is giallo speak for ‘at the bottom of the lake’. That’s not a spoiler, by the way - we see a cat fight ending in tragedy just after the opening titles. OR DO WE?

Kitty works at a fashion house. Someone dressed in a red cape is bumping off managers and models alike. Is it Kitty’s sister come back from the dead? Is it the wife of Kitty’s lover who’s currently banged up in the local lunatic asylum (every giallo town had one, you know)? Is it actually something far more convoluted and ludicrous that will have you gaping at the screen during the denouement? Of course it is and giallo fans wouldn’t want it any other way.

Unlike Kim Newman, who says at the end of the commentary track that he could happily watch THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES at least once a year every year, I have to say I don’t share the same enthusiasm for this one. If you’re not familiar with this particular subgenre of Italian horror this isn’t the place to start. Not as stylish as Argento, nor as intricately perverse as Sergio Martino’s Ernesto Gastaldi-scripted efforts, this is giallo for fans on a rainy day.
Arrow’s transfer of RED QUEEN looks fine and there are plenty of extras, including the aforementioned new commentary track, an interview with Sybil Danning, a talking head piece from Stephen Thrower and all the archival stuff from the earlier NoShame DVD release including the alternate title sequence and an interview with Lorenzo Baraldi who was responsible for the remarkable costume and production design of both of Miraglia’s horrors. Oh, and you get the option of either Italian or English dialogue tracks.

Emilio P Miraglia's THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES is being released by Arrow as part of their Killer Dames box set on Monday 23rd May 2016

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