Directed by Emilio Miraglia [Other horror films: La dama rossa uccide sette volte (1972)]
Commonly known as The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, this Italian giallo is a very solid movie, providing you have the right print. It’s a movie I’ve seen before, but it didn’t make much of an impression, so seeing it again, in a quality copy, really allowed the film to shine.
I was first exposed to this film via the Mill Creek 50-movie pack titled Pure Terror – while the copy there is perhaps serviceable (I don’t remember much from my first viewing, but I didn’t hate it, at least), it’s video quality is quite bad, and the film’s dubbed. With this new viewing, I caught it on Shudder – I can’t express how much better the film looks. Also, the Shudder version is Italian with English subtitles, which is always my preference. Definitely makes a rewatch for this one worth it.
The story isn’t anything mind-blowingly new, and if anyone is familiar with the tenets of both Italian giallo and gothic movies, maybe some of the elements here will feel pedestrian, but I think everything blended together beautifully and made The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave work very well.
I’ve always loved gialli, and I think the reason is easy to understand – I also loved those old dark house horror films of the 1920’s and 1930’s (The Last Warning, The Cat and the Canary, The Monster Walks, and The Bat Whispers, for instance). I love mystery mixed in with my horror, and when we’re thrown multiple suspects, as many gialli do, I have a great time trying to figure out who the killer is, and why they’re committing these crimes. And it’s no different with this movie.
At times, I will admit it felt a bit like films such as The Screaming Skull and Diabolique, and it’s pretty clear early on that there’s no true supernatural elements here, and that a plot is afoot. The question then becomes who is the plot aimed at, who’s doing the plotting, and why is the plotting being done, and as with all great gialli (though to be sure, this film is moderately unique in that it throws in a supernatural facade for the giallo-centric murders), there’s a lot of possible combinations that make perfect sense.
The best part about all of this? It’s been so long since I’ve seen this movie, I completely blanked on the finale, and so when we got to the final 15 minutes, where we get a lot of revelations, I was overjoyed and having the blast of my life.
I can’t say that anyone in the cast stood out, but pretty much everyone did a good job. Anthony Steffen made for a solid lead, and Enzo Tarascio probably played one of the more interesting characters, but the rest, from Marina Malfatti, Roberto Maldera, and Giacomo Rossi Stuart to Umberto Raho, Joan C. Davis, Erika Blanc, all performed well.
If I did have one complaint, and to be sure, it’s a mild one at that, but the fact that the central character’s wife’s infidelity didn’t play into the film. We saw the flashback of his wife and a mysterious man making love in a garden, and I was guessing that the man would somehow matter later on, but it just didn’t swing that way. I can’t tell if that’s just me seeing too much from the flashback, or an intentional red herring, but I did find it a little annoying.
Other than that, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is a very solid movie, and if you have access to a quality print of it, it’s an Italian movie that’s certainly worth seeing, especially if Italian horror from the 1970’s is a preference of yours.
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