The Curator of Schlock #367 by Jeff Shuster
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave
That sounds ominous.
I’m on the road again. I should be hitting that Canadian border any day now. I’ve been trying to get an I-Spy game going with Edwige, but she isn’t too responsive. I guess that’s on account of her being a kangaroo and all. She’s learned how to buckle her seatbelt though. That’s impressive. I don’t suppose one could charge people to watch a kangaroo buckle her seatbelt. I guess that’s not the most exciting animal trick out there.
This week’s Arrow Home Video release is 1971’s The Evelyn Came Out of the Grave from director Emilio Miraglia. This was included in their Killer Dames box set along with The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, a masterpiece I will be covering next week. This movie is a prime example of what I love and find confounding about the Giallo genre. Let’s tear into it.
The movie centers on a Lord Alan Cunningham (Anthony Steffen), a sophisticated English gentleman with a dark secret. The movie begins with him trying to escape a mental institution because he had a breakdown after his wife, Evelyn, died. Next, we see him on a date with a gorgeous prostitute. He takes her back to one of his family’s abandoned manor houses, the kind reeking with dust and cobwebs. He takes her to a clean and furnished bachelor pad within. You might think we’d be getting a passionate love scene, but Lord Alan puts on a black monk’s robe, whips the prostitute, straps her down, threatens her with a branding iron, and then stabs her to death.
Keep in mind that this is our protagonist. I guess we’re expected to excuse this kind of behavior due to Lord Alan’s obsessing over his deceased, red-headed wife. This is why Lord Alan kidnaps red-headed prostitutes. He’s haunted by visions of Evelyn running around in what looks like the garden of Eden with another man. His cousin, George (Enzo Tarascio) suggests he take out a stripper named Susan (Erika Blanc). Lord Alan does so and brings her back to the torture chamber, but Susan manages to escape. Lord Alan also has to contend with a groundskeeper named Albert (Roberto Maldera) that takes bribes to keep quiet about Lord Alan’s late night activities. Albert also raises foxes. And Lord Alan has an ascot collection, in case you were curious.
That detail made my editor really happy for reasons passing understanding.
Lord Alan’s doctor, Richard Timberlane (Giacomo Rossi Stuart), suggests he get married again to get Evelyn out of his head. While attending a swinging party with George who happens to be wearing a hoop earring on his left ear because why not, Lord Alan meets a beautiful woman named Gladys (Marina Malfatti) that he instantly falls for. Lord Alan takes her to bed, asks her to marry him, and before you know it, they’re happily married. Also, Gladys is a blonde so no more fits of tortuous rage.
Lord Alan’s Aunt Agatha (Joan C. Davies) approves of her nephew’s new bride and has hired a bunch of blonde maids to serve their every need. Aunt Agatha is wheelchair bound, but that doesn’t stop her from getting up and sneaking around. Plus, she’s having a torrid affair with groundskeeper Albert. The two of them die horribly. Lord Alan gets committed when he sees his beloved Evelyn come out of the grave one night. And the twists keep coming. Expect poisonings, stabbings, and an incident involving sulphuric acid. Good times!
Jeff Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, episode 284, episode 441, episode 442, episode 443, episode 444, episode 450, and 477) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.