The Movie Waffler Blu-ray Review - THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE (1971) | The Movie Waffler

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Blu-ray Review - THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE (1971)

A mentally troubled aristocrat becomes convinced his wife has returned from the grave.




Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Emilio Miraglia

Starring: Erika Blanc, Anthony Steffen, Marina Malfatti, Enzo Tarascio



The murders here are some of the least inventively staged in giallo cinema, and despite some impressive cinematography, Miraglia's thriller is nowhere near as visually audacious as you might expect from an Italian genre movie of the '70s. Giallo completists will undoubtedly wish to seek out Evelyn, but it's certainly not one you would select as a means of introducing any newcomers to the genre.



Like Lucio Fulci's Lizard in a Woman's Skin and The Black Cat, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave relocates the giallo genre from its Italian home base to the UK. It makes sense considering how indebted Italian thrillers are to English crime writers like Agatha Christie and Edgar Wallace, and Evelyn is set very much on Christie's turf, featuring a roll call of eccentric aristocrats up to no good in rural England.


Despite being clearly bonkers, deranged toff Lord Alan Cunningham (Anthony Steffen) is released from a psychiatric institution, having been driven mad by the death of his wife, the titular Evelyn. It's not long before he's making round trips to London, bringing home redheaded hookers and strippers, (literally) whipping them into a frenzy as he plays out a fantasy of avenging his ginger haired wife's infidelity.

If Lord Alan were a plumber he'd be simply labelled a nutjob, but as he lives in a ruined castle, he's merely an eccentric, so nobody pays too much attention to his behaviour. Except, that is, for the late Evelyn's brother, Albert (Roberto Maldera), who works as groundskeeper on Alan's estate. Witnessing Alan's misogynistic misdeeds, Albert blackmails his boss, but he's not very demanding, accepting a mere £30 to keep his trap shut after witnessing Alan murder a stripper. Alan's shrink (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) treats him in a remarkably unprofessional and contradictory manner, initially telling him to get out of the castle and have some fun in London, only to rediagnose Alan's problem as spending too much time in the city.


It seems Alan may have gotten over his obsession with his dead wife when he marries perpetually half-naked society girl Gladys (Marina Malfatti) within a day of meeting her at a party. In an unintentionally hilarious scene, Alan hires five maids, all with identical blonde hair-does, and begins to forget about Evelyn, until Gladys claims to have seen a red-headed maid in the kitchen. Alan once more starts having visions of his wife on the grounds of his estate, and the screws start working their way loose again.


Director Emilio Miraglia's film is very much second rate giallo with a touch of gothic horror thrown in for good measure. Lose the nudity and gore (of which there's relatively little by giallo standards) and Evelyn begins to look an awful lot like an ABC Movie of the Week from this era. Of course, an ABC movie would place far more emphasis on airtight plotting than the loose narrative we're presented with here.

The murders here are some of the least inventively staged in giallo cinema, and despite some impressive cinematography, Miraglia's thriller is nowhere near as visually audacious as you might expect from an Italian genre movie of the '70s. Giallo completists will undoubtedly wish to seek out Evelyn, but it's certainly not one you would select as a means of introducing any newcomers to the genre.

Extras:
As one half of Arrow Video's 'Killer Dames' boxset, alongside The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, this gets the classic comprehensive Arrow treatment. A commentary track from Troy Howarth; an analysis by Stephen Thrower; two interviews with Erika Blanc, who also provides an optional intro; an interview with production designer Lorenzo Baraldi; trailers; and a booklet examining the film and the wider giallo genre.

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The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is released by Arrow Video as part of the 'Killer Dames' boxset on May 23rd.