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April 18, 2006

Two by Emilio P. Miraglia

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The Night Evelyn came out of the Grave/La Notte che Evelyn uscì dalla Tomba
Emilio P. Miraglia - 1971
NoShame Films Region 0 DVD

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The Red Queen Kills Seven Times/La Dama rossa uccide Sette Volte
Emilio P. Miraglia - 1972
NoShame Films Region 0 DVD

Those wild and crazy folks at NoShame have come up with an interesting marketing tool for selling their newest release. If you click on the link, you can see the action figure, one of 7000, which is part of the Emilio Miraglia Killer Queen Box Set. Even without a "Red Queen" of your very own, the films are worth checking out. A previous DVD release of Evelyn looks like it was done from a 16mm print found in somebody's dumpster. Not only is the new DVD done with the correct aspect ratio, but also from a pristine source from a complete print. Red Queen is also a beautiful transfer that includes a deleted prologue among the extras.

What is interesting is seeing the two films together because of narrative elements shared between them. Both titles are misleading in that they both refer to characters who seemingly come back from the dead to seek revenge for their untimely deaths. Red Queen's murderous ghost is the similarly named Eveline. Characters are often not who or what they appear to be, and everyone is motivated by greed. While Red Queen also has a greater variety of locations, family castles and mental institutions are featured in both films. Both films also have their head-scratching moments where logic seems besides the point.

Evelyn is about a wealthy man, Alan Cunningham, who has gauzy hallucinations about his dead wife, Evelyn. Most of his flashbacks involve seeing Evelyn running through the woods in a sheer nightgown that falls easily off her body. Not helping matters is Alan's habit of hiring similar looking prostitutes for unrestrained sado-masochism topped by his imagining Evelyn as the victim of his whip. A clueless psychiatrist convinces Alan to marry again, so Alan hooks up with the first blonde he meets. Various members of the household die mysteriously, with clues leading to the supposedly dead Evelyn. There is a tip of the hat to the literary inspiration for Evelyn with a character named Aunt Agatha. The high point is a combination strip-tease go-go dance done by Erika Blanc emerging from a coffin, part of a night club routine.

Red Queen is even better with more gratuitous sex and violence and nudity, plus more imaginative photography and set design. The story is about a family legend involving internecine sisters who are seen in a 17th century portrait. Murders are attributed to Eveline, whose recent death at the hand of her sister Kitty has been hidden from the police. One fantastic set piece involves Barbara Bouchet having a nightmare, with a tracking shot of her in bed shot from a long hallway, actually a set created in Rome's National Library. Red Queen also features Sybil Danning making the most of her supporting role. The film shows the influence of Dario Argento both in the narrative and visually, but is also the more satisfying of the two films here even though the "hero" looks and dresses like Monty Hall.

It should be noted that while the IMDb filmography for Emilio Miraglia is not complete. The NoShame booklet adds a bit more information. A previous film that actually received a major release in the U.S., The Vatican Affair features the unlikely pairing of Walter Pidgeon and Klaus Kinski. It would seem that there might be more of interest should other films by Miraglia be unburied from their studio vaults.

Posted by peter at April 18, 2006 12:21 PM