Director: Emilio P. Miraglia
NoShame Films

Mostly a giallo in its execution, THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE was passed off as a horror film to U.S. drive-ins (with a poster depicting a skull-faced lingerie babe holding a decapitated head) and was later a staple of late-night TV, albeit numerous edits. Released theatrically by Phase One (apparently, a one-shot distribution arm of AIP), the mix of kink, weirdness and supernatural cheats has had a disappointing history of releases on VHS, as well on budget DVDs, that is until now. Director Miraglia’s follow-up, THE RED QUEEN KILLS 7 TIMES was released in the U.S. by Cannon in 1976 as BLOOD FEAST, and has never before been legitimately issued on video here. Joining the two titles together for a double-disc set entitled, “The Emilio Miraglia Killer Queen Box Set,” NoShame Films’ brilliant limited edition clear-cased packaging showcases a novelty “Red Queen” figure, and the superb transfers live up to the company’s continuing high standards.

Taking place in a swinging 1970s London, THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE tells the tale of Lord Alan Cunningham (Spaghetti Western favorite Anthony Steffen), a nutso wealthy playboy, living in an enormous mansion. Cunningham's redheaded wife has died, so now he has a habit of bringing strippers and hookers (beautiful redheads of course) home for some kinky fun in his torture chamber, sometimes ending in murder. Later, our mentally ill rich kid meets a luscious blond named Gladys (Marina Malfatti) at a party, instantly falls in love with her, and gets hitched, thinking it will be the solution to all his mental issues. But he continues to endure haunting hallucinations of his late wife, and more people end up dead around the Cunningham estate.

Despite some plot-dragging and incredibly hammy London accents in the English dubbing, THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE has some superior chills, a kitsch gothic 70s style set mostly in a crumbling castle, infrequent gore (a wheelchair-bound woman is lopped over the head, then fed to a cage of starving foxes), and almost as many beautiful Euro babes as the Richard Burton BLUEBEARD. Erika Blanc (THE DEVIL'S NIGHTMARE) is a dancer who does a sexy stage act, wiggling her fanny out of a coffin to some rocking guitar riffs, and is later chased half-naked through what resembles a gothic dungeon. Its dislikable characters include an array of red herrings, and you'll recognize many of them, including Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (Blanc’s co-star in Mario Bava’s KILL, BABY... KILL!), Roberto Maldera (NIGHT OF THE DEVILS) and Umberto Raho (BARON BLOOD) from other Italian horrors.

In THE RED QUEEN KILLS 7 TIMES, a wealthy grandfather – referring to a violent painting which rests on a castle wall – tells his two young granddaughters about the legend of "The Red Queen,” who stabbed her sister (“The Black Green”) and six other victims, and he believes it to be curse that effects the family members every 100 years. When that time comes in 1972, granddaughter Kitty (Barbara Bouchet) is now a fashion photographer, but sister Evelyn is believed to have been accidentally killed by her. The grandfather dies in bed after a experiencing a haunting vision of Evelyn and soon after, the will of his estate is read, stipulating that an envelope revealing who gets what not be opened until January of the next year. A number of murders then occur, mostly of the models working at Kitty’s agency, and all are committed by a red-caped brunette resembling Evelyn. Has the vengeful “The Red Queen” come back after a century to claim seven more victims?

A much more colorful offering than EVELYN, THE RED QUEEN KILLS 7 TIMES is a well played out thriller with a premise that engulfs you from the very beginning. No doubt a vehicle for the (at the time) very busy Bouchet, her central character is rather naïve and easily panicked, and even though she is believed to have accidentally killed her own sister, it’s easy to sympathize with the beautiful Bambi-eyed heroine that she is. The giggling ambiguous femme killer, with her red flowing cape and ancient dagger murder weapom, makes you look forward to her successive appearances, and the death scenes are pretty inventive and sometimes very gruesome, almost always allowing the bright red blood to flow freely. Joining in on all the film’s mayhem is Ugo Pagliai as the agency head who is having an affair with Kitty despite his unbalanced wife being in a sanatorium, Marina Malfatti as Kitty’s other sister who knows more than a few family secrets, Marino Masé (LADY FRANKENSTEIN, CONTAMINATION) as the no-nonsense cop who likes to question everyone endlessly and Pia Giancaro (RETURN OF SABATA) as a model and potential victim. Almost unrecognizable is a young Sybil Danning (nufsed) as another model, and yes, she does tend to shed her clothes! Like EVELYN, the energetic soundtrack is again done by the talented Bruno Nicolai.

There have been a few budget DVDs of THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE put out here in the past, but NoShame’s version is the first official one and therefore the definitive Region 1 release. The film is completely uncut (with no missing frames) and the source material is in pristine shape. Finally presented in its original 2.35:1 Techniscope glory with anamorphic enhancement, colors are truly vivid, detail is very sharp, and aside from a few hints of grain in some darker scenes, the transfer is spectacular. THE RED QUEEN KILLS 7 TIMES is also presented 2.35:1 anamorphic, and looks just as good or better. The brighter colors schemes are radiant here, and again since this was transferred from the original negative, the image looks quite immaculate. Each film contains both the more familiar 2.0 mono English language tracks, as well as Italian language tracks with optional English subtitles. You can only turn on the subtitles from the “languages” menu, so if you want to watch the films in English and translate the introductions and interview supplements (the captions don’t come on automatically in these two cases), you’ll have to do your accessing from there. Each film and its accompanying extras are on its own separate disc.

The extras here are abundant. The EVELYN disc includes "The Whip and the Body" (21 minutes), which contains an interview Erika Blanc (who also introduces the film). In an almost surreal touch, Blanc talks while applying make-up on in front of her dressing room mirror, about making the film, as well as some tidbits on KILL, BABY... KILL! and THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE, and she definitely displays a great sense of humor. "Still Rising from the Grave" (23 minutes) is an interview with production designer Lorenzo Baraldi, who discusses renovating the large castle used in the film to look decrepit, as well as the colorful trendy clothes seen on the various actors, as he was also costume designer. Other extras include an International trailer (not the common U.S. release trailer), an Italian trailer and a brief still and poster gallery.

RED QUEEN’s disc has production designer Baraldi back to introduce the film and shed some light on it in the featurette "Dead à porter" (14 minutes). Actor Marino Masé is then interviewed for "Round Up the Usual Suspects" (15 minutes), and he divulges the excitement he had the day he got the role (it was the same day his son was born), and he also discusses other film and TV work in his long career. "If I Met Emilio Miraglia Today..." (4 minutes) has Baraldi, Blanc and Masé expressing what they would tell the director if they could talk to him today, and their thoughts are appreciative all around. "My Favorite... Films" is literally a minute of interview video (taken at a fan convention) of Bouchet mentioning the cult movies she’s best remembered for today. Rounding out the disc is an alternative opening for the international version, displaying a “countdown” montage shown before the opening prologue, as well as a brief still and poster gallery. Included in the disc's packaging are two lobby card reproduction postcards and a glossy booklet comprised of fact-filled liner notes and bios nicely written by Chris D. and Richard Harland Smith. Highly recommended! (George R. Reis)