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Till death do us part: The Night Evelyn Came out of her Grave (1971)

“It's not uncommon for a man to want to do strange things to get his kicks”
Have you ever had a film that you rarely watch, but somehow, it stays at the forefront of your mind? That's my deal with “The Night Evelyn Came out of her Grave”. It's not a film I watched often, but one I'm always excited to read something new about.  I would probably watch the film a lot more if the opening few minutes didn't disappoint me so, let me explain. 

“Evelyn” opens up with a man trying to escape a psychiatric clinic and failing. But that's okay, soon he's let on his own and after a sexy drive through the nighttime sky, we meet him proper. His name is Alan Cunningham (Anthony Steffen), and he's been released from the clinic after suffering a severe bout of depression following the death of his abusive Red-headed wife Evelyn. All should be well and good but it's not as we soon learn.
Alan arrives at his huge estate with the drop dead gorgeous redhead named Polly (Maria Teresa Tofano). Polly appears to be a whore, and I don't mean that in a bad way either, let's not judge. Anyways, he immediately offered her a large amount of money to play some games, she's all for it and follows him downstairs. Where they end up is a medieval torture dungeon, this place is creepy even for me. Believing that Polly will be surprised if taken aback, Alan is shocked to see that she has no reaction whatsoever. She simply states that whenever she is offered a gift so generous she expects a little weirdness along with it. Wow, I was in love. Obviously, I know that this is going to get weird, but I didn't know in what way.  
Just when things were about to get even more interesting, out came the whip, and not in a good way. Alan proceeds to beat her, forcing her into some weird contraption and preparing to brand her like an animal. Then, he freaks out, in a different way, I mean. He sees the face of his dead wife Evelyn, and he immediately drops to his knees and begins to pray for forgiveness, not to Polly, to "Evelyn". A glimmer of hope sparkles in Polly's eyes, but it doesn't last long. While Allen is having his mental episode, he sees Evelyn running, almost naked, with just the sheer white nightgown hanging off of her. The memory continues as a POV shot, as if he is following her, eventually running into the arms of another man. That snaps him back into his own violent psychosis, and he moves in for the kill with Polly. The last things we see of her are her personal clothes that she left in the upstairs bedroom as Alan prepares to cover his tracks. So now I'm bummed out because quite frankly, this girl was the most rocking crumpet I'd ever seen and I wanted to see more of her. So there you have it, that's what disappointed me about the opening sequence. I know that's a man's reason. But hey, I'm man, sue me.
 So Alan has a deep-rooted problem, well, several, does that make him a bad guy? His friend, Dr. Timberlane (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart), who owns the clinic, apparently has concerns, and he’s not the only one. Alan’s friend, George (Enzo Tarascio), has set up a séance so that he can speak to Evelyn, and maybe put his mind to rest. George is kind of a shiesty fellow is that I personally wouldn't trust as far as I can throw him. You might want to keep an eye on him. Evelyn does appear at the séance, causing Alan to hyperventilate and faint. Well I guess that didn't work. Apparently Alan just need some hot tail to make him feel better, and George apparently is the man to see for hot women (see, shiesty, I tell you).  George says he is just a woman for him, even more beautiful than Polly (that's a lie). Enter, the queen of Spanish/Italian Grindhouse Gothique, Red-headed Erika Blanc (The Devil’s Nightmare). Yes, they have to be red-heads. Erika plays Susie, a stripper of course, and good friend of George. Susie has one of the greatest character introductions of all time, dancers take note, this is trying to make an entrance. A dark coffin was brought into a club filled with people and sat down amongst large lit candelabras. Out slinks Susie, performing one of the most seductive dances I've ever seen, and I've seen quite a few. It doesn't take long for her to end up at Alan's table and eventually, his dungeon. 
This is Alan's pattern but it all is about to change. For on Allen's next trip out, he meets the beautiful and strawberry-blonde (close enough), Gladys (Marina Malfatti), and instead of taking her back to his home and beating her to death and his creepy ass dungeon, he actually had sex with her. Again and again and again. It seems Alan has fallen in love and the next thing you know he's married. This alarmed some people since Alan is worth over 3,000,000 pounds and she is not. Things are normal at first, but soon the visions begin again, Evelyn has returned, and she's none too happy about the insatiable new hottie filling her vacant Spot in bed.
What follows is a series of possible ghostly visions, and odd occurrences that test not only Allen's sanity but that of his new bride. Everyone seems to want how utterly trying to pull Alan from the ledge or help him off of it?
“Evelyn” is more exploitive Giallo than horror, as the plot unfolds we find that many people are actually playing roles in a passion play designed to destroy Alan for all the obvious reasons. It's a great little whodunit that after watching it once, you can go back and notice all the pieces falling into place the second time around. Movies like this and the excellent 1972 film Murder Mansion often get unfairly categorized as Scooby-Doo mysteries, that's like calling Barbara Steele's "The Horrible Dr.Hitchcock" just a sick horror film without any psychological trappings going on. No educated horror fan would ever do that, and it shouldn't be done here. It seems that sometimes a twist ending can turn on you especially when it changes genres. People often complain that they're not surprised and of course when they are, they complain.
This is a gritty, Gothic textured thriller with an excellent cast and a viewing experience that lends itself naturally to a second. So go ahead and pop this one in, sit back, have a glass of wine, and maybe even jot down some notes for the bedroom. This is definitely a mood movie, hiding concept and low in morals. It's the best of both worlds.

1 comment:

  1. Not to mention some of Bruno Nicolai's most gorgeous music ever!