The Orphan (1979)

Directed by John Ballard [Other horror films: N/A]

Sometimes known as, and perhaps only known as, Friday the 13th: The Orphan, this low budget movie from the late 70’s has it’s place. I don’t quite know where that place is, but providing it exists, well, this movie belongs there. The Orphan isn’t a bad film – there are some strong emotional portions and nice use of flashbacks and nightmares – but it’s far more a dry drama than a straight horror, and it doesn’t pick up near enough toward the end to help things out.

As such, the basic story is sort of interesting. A young boy David (Mark Owens) loses his mother and father, and so his aunt on his mother’s side (Peggy Feury) comes to care for him. She’s a strict woman, and also likely quite racist. See, David’s father went to Africa a lot, and brought back plenty of little African things, along with an African friend named Akin (Afolabi Ajayi).

Well, over the course of the first hour of the film, his aunt refers to his father as “bringing him up around filthy things” (Akin was literally standing right there), gets rid of Akin, tries to raise David “properly” (not speaking out of turn, going to church, that tripe). When the cook Mary (Eleanor Stewart) tries to help David, she’s yelled at for not knowing her place, and she’s also fired. Oh, and for good measure, the aunt kills David’s dog (it might have been an accident, but it was also entirely inexcusable).

You might be able to tell that so much of the film is drama. It’s not disengaging, but it is drama, and while you could say that around an hour in, it’s properly built up to something, I don’t really think the finale is grand enough to excuse how long it took to get there.

For a younger actor, Mark Owens does okay. But let’s be honest brahs – very few people here do well. The only performance I actually liked was Afolabi Ajayi, and that’s because I thought his character was dope. Peggy Feury played an uptight and atrocious woman well, I guess, and Eleanor Stewart had her moments, but really, Ajayi is where it’s at.

When it got to more horror-centric stuff, The Orphan wasn’t bad. David had a nightmare in which he’s brought into a really horrible orphanage and has his tongue cut out. Quality. A woman is covered up with a blanket and stabbed, and another person is attacked by a monkey and shot with an elephant gun. All of this is to say when the film veered in that direction, it could be rather entertaining.

Also, I wanted to give kudos to one of the songs that pops up three times throughout the film, being ‘I Need to Live Alone Again’ by Janis Ian. I’m not the biggest Janis Ian fan (I only know a handful of her songs, such as ‘At Seventeen,’ ‘Society’s Child (Baby I’ve Been Thinking),’ and ‘God & the FBI’), but she has a beautiful voice, and ‘I Need to Live Alone Again’ is a really peaceful song, perfect for a slow-moving drama as so much of The Orphan is.

I also want to add, though this has little relevance to anything, that I have seen The Orphan before, but under rather terrible circumstances. There was a video on YouTube of the film, but it was stuttering. It was like watching a flipbook moving quickly. Each image was still, and so movements were jerky. Truth be told, while I watched the whole thing, I got a terrible headache early on, and so remembered very little of it going into watching it this time around. It’s a good thing I didn’t remember, as it’s possible I would have waited longer to revisit this one.

And that might not be entirely fair, as The Orphan isn’t without it’s strong suits, but it really can be a dull film at times, and the finale isn’t near enough to make up for it. It’s worth seeing if you want to see a woman be racist and kill dogs (that was a harsh scene, on a side-note), but it’s not a film I could see myself watching again anytime soon.


Welcome to Arrow Beach (1973)

Directed by Laurence Harvey [Other horror films: N/A]

I didn’t really know anything about what to expect going into Welcome to Arrow Beach, and now that I’ve seen it, I’m having somewhat of a difficult time deciding how I feel. On the one hand, the film is a bit slow, and I don’t know if the three-minute finale makes up for the sluggish nature of the first hour and a half. On the other, I did sort of dig the story and what they were going for.

Honestly, it reminded me a bit of two other films from the first half of the 1970’s, being Terror House and Warlock Moon. Both were a bit slow, both possessed a very 70’s free vibe, and both dealt with young women getting into a situation that’s not easy to escape from, if escape even is possible. Welcome to Arrow Beach fits that perfectly.

The story is simple enough – a hitch-hiking young woman stays over at someone’s beachside house, and finds out that the owner isn’t the most pleasant individual. But when she escapes and tells the police, because she’s a free-love hippie type, credibility isn’t her high point (it doesn’t help that drugs are planted on her). And after a few more things happen, and she decides to go back to the house to get some proof.

Really, for as much time is spent on somewhat tedious scenes (for instance, Stuart Whitman as the deputy is beginning to believe the hippie girl’s story, but that subplot never goes anywhere), I shouldn’t feel as defensive as I do about the film. There’s only three action-packed sequences, and while they’re all good, I don’t know if it’s enough.

Meg Foster did a great job as the main character. Foster (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Wind, They Live, Stepfather II, and The Lords of Salem) really has that free-love spirit I associate with the hippie subculture, and her referring to her breasts as “secondary sexual characteristics” pegged her for an amusing sort. This film is pretty early in her career, and I think for a younger actress she did really well here.

Laurence Harvey (who died in late 1973, and also appeared in Night Watch) played a cool cat out to make a killing (for any fans of the DC comic book series The Atom, specifically the 1960’s series, #27, you might catch that highly obscure reference), and Harvey did a good job, though I wish we got a bit more backstory on him. Ditto Joanna Pettet (The Evil and Double Exposure), who played Harvey’s sister.

I like the two main cops – John Ireland and Stuart Whitman. Ireland (I Saw What You Did, Miami Golem, Satan’s Cheerleaders, Day of the Nightmare, Terror Night, The House of Seven Corpses, and The Graveyard Story) was fun with his rugged, conservative cop route (in fact, he’s running for re-election as sheriff, and gets asked by a student paper his political beliefs – anti-porn, anti-abortion, anti-fun), and with more humanity, there’s Whitman (Revenge!, Vultures, Eaten Alive, and Night of the Lepus), who does pretty well, but again, his story doesn’t really go anywhere. Two others, being Janear Hines and David Macklin, stood out as well.

Welcome to Arrow Beach did do a few interesting things. One of the kills was during a photo shoot, and in little flashes, it goes from a woman being photographed to being chopped apart (we don’t see the extent of the damage, but there is definitely dismemberment involved). Another character opens a refrigerator, and seeing a bag of hamburger, has a flashback-type thing – this flashback isn’t the whole screen, though, it’s superimposed on the hamburger. It’s not amazing, but it did give this film a few unique portions.

This is a really hard film to get a grasp on. I liked a decent amount about it, and it was mostly engaging, but at the same time, I really think there should have been more meat to the story, Some background on Harvey’s character would have been nice (all we get were a few disjointed flashbacks), but even so, if you liked the vibe of films like Warlock Moon and Terror House, this is worth seeing.


Madhouse (1974)

Directed by Jim Clark [Other horror films: N/A]

Madhouse isn’t the greatest movie I’ve ever seen. No doubt it’s a fun film – what more could you expect from a movie starring Vincent Price and Peter Cushing? – but it’s not necessarily the most original film, and while I certainly had a good time with it, I’m not sure it will stand the test of time like many of the films each have otherwise been involved in.

Of course, the story is decent, albeit in a been-there, done-it way, as Price’s character has to decide whether someone is trying to frame him for the murders going on around him or he’s having a mental break-down, as he has in the past. We’ve all seen films like this before, and to be sure, it was based on a novel titled Devilday, written by Angus Hall, so it’s not entirely the film’s fault, but given the fact Price and Cushing are here, I’d have hoped for a more original story.

Even so, they work decently well with what they have. I don’t think the finale is great, and I pretty much suspected who was behind the killing somewhat early on, but at the very least, the film is quite serviceable, and though it may not be as memorable as something like The Abominable Dr. Phibes or Theatre of Blood, it’s not a shabby film.

Vincent Price, as readers may know, is perhaps one of my favorite actors, and there are plenty of clips in this movie of his past works (among them, House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Raven, and The Haunted Palace), and there’s even a joke made in-movie about him previously playing the Invisible Man (as he did in both The Invisible Man Returns and the ending of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein). Price is a lot of fun here, as he always is, and seeing him with Cushing is a treat.

And speaking about Peter Cushing, he’s another actor of whom I have a deep appreciation for. He appeared in a ton of horror films, including, but not at all limited to, The Abominable Snowman, The Mummy, Dracula, The Flesh and the Fiends, The Skull, Horror Express, Incense for the Damned, and Night of the Big Heat. Cushing was quite solid, and though there are times when he doesn’t appear too often on screen, you alway know he’s lurking about, which is good enough for me.

Others here obviously have difficulty standing out, but they still did well, all things considered. Natasha Pyne, Robert Quarry (Count Yorga, Vampire, Moon in Scorpio, and Deathmaster), Linda Hayden (Taste the Blood of Dracula and The Blood on Satan’s Claw), and Ian Thompson were all pretty solid, though I will say, both Catherine Willmer and Ellis Dale felt way, way too goofy with their characters.

The kills here weren’t what I’d call great. You did see a double impalement on a sword, and a woman stabbed with a pitchfork, but being a mid-70’s British film, they’re just quick sequences with little to them, so though this may well be an interesting proto-slasher, it’s not always the most engaging when it comes to the death sequences (though there is the after-effects of a decapitation near the beginning which wasn’t half bad).

Madhouse is a decent movie, but given the names involved, I was sort of expecting more than decent. Maybe that’s on me – God knows it’s not the first movie I went into with possibly unrealistic expectations. As it is, I found the movie a decent and fun watch, but ultimately, I do think it rests somewhere around average.


Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? (1972)

Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo [Other horror films: Quella villa in fondo al parco (1988)]

Commonly known under the title The Case of the Bloody Iris, and perhaps sometimes known as What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing on Jennifer’s Body?, this giallo is a great example of why I love the subgenre. There’s a fun story here with a lot of suspects and decent kills, and so Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? is a giallo done right.

It’s the mystery of the story that always drew me to gialli. I love slashers in which there are multiple reasonable suspects for who the killer is, but of course, not all slashers have that bent (such as The Slumber Party Massacre, Halloween, and Final Exam). Gialli, though, pretty much has to possess that element, and while it’s not always done well, when a giallo has all the pieces come together, it’s a damn good time.

Here, for instance, there’s no dearth of potential killers. When a young woman moves into an apartment building and multiple people around her start getting killed, sure, it could be the possibly gay photographer (Oreste Lionello), or maybe the mysterious man living in the nearby apartment, or the architect of the building (George Hilton) or the old professor (George Rigaud), or perhaps his lesbian daughter (Annabella Incontrera)? Oh, and let’s not forget the main character’s husband (Ben Carra), who is obsessed with getting her back.

The Case of the Bloody Iris has a pretty good mystery, and I was going back-and-forth on who I thought the killer might be (one of my guesses, though, was indeed correct), and when there’s not a clear-cut answer, I just love it. Come the finale, everything is pieced together nicely, red herrings are dealt with in reasonable and realistic manners, and everything just works.

Plenty of the performances here were great. There’s the lead, Edwige Fenech (from many Italian classics, such as Five Dolls for An August Moon, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, All the Colors of the Dark, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, and Strip Nude for Your Killer), who did a very good job playing a character who feels as though she’s in constant danger. George Hilton (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, All the Colors of the Dark, and The Killer Must Kill Again) didn’t have a ton of personality, but made for a good suspect.

I loved Giampiero Albertini as the police commissioner, and his stamp-collecting antics, not to mention his conversations with subordinate Franco Agostini were of good quality. Paola Quattrini played a hilarious roommate of Fenech’s, and all her scenes were golden. Annabella Incontrera (So Sweet, So Dead and The Crimes of the Black Cat) was amusing as an overly seductive lesbian neighbor, and like Quattrini’s character, I enjoyed her everytime she was on screen. Ben Carra, Carla Brait (Torso), George Rigaud (Horror Express and Love Brides of the Blood Mummy), Maria Tedeschi, and Oreste Lionello (4 Flies on Grey Velvet) all gave the film some good extra flavor.

There are only a few what I’d call stand-out kills, and one of them was pretty mild, being a steam pipe being turned on as someone was walking by, and this caused some awful burn damage (and death). One of the better kills, though, was a quick stab to the stomach in broad daylight, and also in a crowd. Just filmed in a quality manner (with the killer’s POV), and I dug it.

I also dug the simple design of the killer, the typical black-masked look, complete with a hat, trench coat, and gloves. Even when the killer just popped up in the main character’s apartment without harming her, it was pretty creepy, so kudos there.

Admittedly, it did take The Case of the Bloody Iris about 15 minutes to really start making an impact, but once it did, and I felt more engagement, I found this giallo quite a rewarding experience, and would definitely recommend it, especially for that killer finale. #LovedIt.


The Beast in the Cellar (1971)

Directed by James Kelley [Other horror films: La tua presenza nuda! (1972)]

This is a somewhat hard film to get a gauge on. It’s true that much of the film was a bit dry and dull, but there was a bit of charm to be had in this British movie. Even so, I need to err on the side of caution, and say this isn’t really a good film.

I did find the story somewhat interesting, despite the oft-dry tone. There’s a little mystery, some okay atmosphere, and a nice setting, so by no means is it the case the movie that has nothing to offer. Problematically, though, while we do see a couple of murders, saying The Beast in the Cellar picks up speed at any point is a hard case to make.

In the final thirty minutes, we get a lengthy story from Beryl Reid’s character that lasts a good portion of that thirty minutes. It’s told well, with plenty of emotion, and during this, we do see people out searching for the animal-like man that’s been out killing soldiers. But it’s hard to say that there’s any real tension save for perhaps the final five minutes, when the killer comes to the house in the pouring rain (which was nicely atmospheric, to be sure).

Beryl Reid (who I mostly know from Entertaining Mr. Sloane) gave the best performance of the film, and she worked beautifully with Flora Robson (The Shuttered Room), who played her sister. The two of them did great, though Reid gave the lengthy confession toward the end, and got some more emotional scenes in. Smaller roles, such as those provided by John Hamill and Tessa Wyatt, were perfectly good, but as Reid and Robson were the sole focus, no one else had a chance to really stand out.

The print I watched was a bit rough, I admit. I imagine it was a VHS rip, as it was quite scratchy and very dark during night sequences. I don’t think this negatively impacted the film aside from making some things a bit harder to discern (the kills were especially somewhat rough), and it could be said the print maybe even helped give the film a bit more of a grindhouse feel.

Produced by Tigon (who were also behind producing such films as Curse of the Crimson Altar, Witchfinder General, Virgin Witch, The Blood on Satan’s Claw, and The Haunted House of Horror), The Beast in the Cellar is an okay piece of lower budget British horror. It is quite dry, but the performances are compelling even if some of the finale isn’t. It’s not a good movie, but I can’t help but see the charm this one possesses.


Guru, the Mad Monk (1970)

Directed by Andy Milligan [Other horror films: The Naked Witch (1967), The Ghastly Ones (1968), Seeds (1968), Bloodthirsty Butchers (1970), Torture Dungeon (1970), The Body Beneath (1970), The Man with Two Heads (1972), The Rats Are Coming – The Werewolves Are Here (1972), Dragula (1973), Blood (1973), Legacy of Blood (1978), House of Seven Belles (1979), Carnage (1984), Monstrosity (1987), The Weirdo (1989), Surgikill (1989)]

There’s not really a whole lot that can be said about Guru, the Mad Monk. It’s a pretty cheap film with occasionally decent effects and a story that sort of works, but it’s also relatively unremarkable, and lasts just under an hour.

Andy Milligan is a name I know well, but unfortunately, at least up to the point of this writing, this is the only film of his I’ve seen. I know many of them are broadly panned, such as The Ghastly Ones, Legacy of Blood, the brilliantly-titled The Rats Are Coming – The Werewolves Are Here, and Carnage, but I just get the feeling if I ever took the time out to watch some of these, I might find a little something in them to enjoy, especially if Guru, the Mad Monk is any indication.

I don’t think this movie is good in a traditional sense, but it’s not a bad way to spend an hour of your time. It tries it’s best on an ultra-low budget to be a period piece à la Witchfinder General and The Bloody Judge, and it does an okay job at it. The story is okay, and while the random vampire woman is just that – random – it just gives a bit more meat to the movie.

Then there’s the special effects, which are mostly shabby, but I can certainly appreciate the attempt they make. The worst effects were probably present in a scene in which a guy got his hands cut off, but when someone else got decapitated, and another one got their eyes skewered, well, isn’t that what love is all about? Plus someone got their hands nailed to a wall, which didn’t look fun.

I’ve not heard of Neil Flanagan – it seems he’s mostly in Milligan’s movies – but I thought he did a competently good job as a priest who may not be the most mentally stable. Jaqueline Webb was probably okay, but I don’t know if her character got sufficient backstory. Neither Judith Israel nor Paul Lieber (in his first role – he’s not an actor I know, but he did appear in plenty of television episodes past this point) were that relevant to the story, surprisingly, but both did well with their limitations.

Perhaps just by hearing the title and learning that Milligan directed this, Guru, the Mad Monk might turn you off, and I’ve no problem saying it’s not a good movie. I honestly don’t think it’s all that bad, though, especially when you consider what they had to work it. It’s short, it’s sometimes fun, and while it may not be memorable, for a couple of late-night viewings, I don’t see why not give it a shot, should you be a fan of trashy horror.


La tarantola dal ventre nero (1971)

Directed by Paolo Cavara [Other horror films: Mondo cane (1962), E tanta paura (1976)]

Giallo is one of those genres that I enjoy in small doses, and as such, there are still many quite well-known gialli that I’ve not yet seen. La tarantola dal ventre nero, better known as Black Belly of the Tarantula, is one such film, and I have to admit that, while it was decent, I was expecting a little more.

In part, I think this has to do with the lack of characterization some individuals get, not to mention a lack of as many suspects as one might hope for. There’s also elements that I don’t think are fully explained (what the link was between Giancarlo Prete’s character and Ezio Marano’s character, for instance), and the whole finale, while okay, was just that – okay, and largely unspectacular.

Admittedly this came as a surprise, as I have heard this is one of the more popular gialli out there, and perhaps one of the better ones not done by Mario Bava, Sergino Martino, Lucio Fulci, or Dario Argento. It’s a perfectly fine mystery, and the kills are decent, but even as a fan of these movies, I do feel that large portions were somewhat sluggish, and not getting the hang of the whole picture (at least as clearly as other films do, such as Deep Red) just made it feel weaker.

As far as the cast goes, the only ones who really stand out are Ezio Marano, Eugene Walter, and Giancarlo Giannini. I don’t think we really get that much information on Marano’s character, but he does well with the role. Eugene Walter had almost no relevance whatsoever to the plot, but his character appeared a few times, and he amused me. Giannini (who would pop up 30 years later as the Italian cop going after Lecter in Hannibal) was pretty solid as the lead, which is good, because otherwise, we wouldn’t have had much.

I’m always the type to enjoy mysteries mixed up with my murder, which is why giallo films appeal to me. They’re not always great (such as Mario Bava’s Five Dolls for an August Moon), but sometimes they can be quite good (Don’t Torture a Duckling and the aforementioned Deep Red). Black Belly of the Tarantula is an okay movie. It’s certainly not bad, even if it does perhaps drag a little. But there’s not enough here for me to think of the movie as necessarily good, and while I’ve wanted to see it for some time now, I can admit that it doesn’t do as much for me as I’d have hoped.


Child’s Play (1972)

Directed by Sidney Lumet [Other horror films: N/A]

It’s been quite a long while since I’ve been blown away by a movie. Child’s Play isn’t amazing, and to be 100% honest, calling it a horror film may not be entirely accurate, but it is a movie that has an insanely heavy amount of creeping tension, and it’s not an experience I can describe easily.

In fact, it reminds me of films like The Wicker Man and Don’t Deliver Us from Evil. There’s an oppressive atmosphere that permeates the whole film, and the tension here just builds and builds (though arguably, it doesn’t necessarily lead to anything). The final scene still carries that tension wonderfully, and you want to see what happens next.

This was truly a nerve-wracking experience. I think the reason for that is it’s based on a play written by Robert Marasco. If you don’t know the name, I wouldn’t be surprised, but because I’m a large fan of the film Burnt Offerings, I know Marasco wrote the novel Burnt Offerings is based on. And like Burnt Offerings, which has a deep sense of uneasiness throughout the film, Child’s Play has the exact same thing.

Plot-wise, some ideas aren’t fully answered or explained, and there’s a bit of an open-ended conclusion here. I would have liked a little more input from some of the student characters, as most of the film focuses around the faculty of a Catholic school, but even with a few issues like this, it doesn’t change how striking the film is.

The cast is amazing. There’s really only three central performances, those of Robert Preston, Beau Bridges, and James Mason, and all three are absolutely amazing. Bridges is the most generic of the bunch, but that’s only because Mason and Preston are Gods among men. They put a lot into this movie, and it just makes the whole thing great. Smaller parts played by Ron Weyand and David Rounds (who plays character I quite appreciated) compliment the central actors nicely.

I need more time to fully digest this one. It’s rare I see a movie as unique as this, and though it’s definitely not a movie for everyone, I do think the experience is worth it. It’s not a fun movie at all; it’s a somber, oppressive mystery filled with a lot of drama and the trials of being a teacher, but it’s still an experience worth having.


The Omen (1976)

Directed by Richard Donner [Other horror films: Two-Fisted Tales (1992, segment ‘Showdown’)]

Though not a movie I consider amazing, I always have thought The Omen was pretty good. It has a decently compelling story, made all the better by the mystery of Damien’s birth, and plenty of solid performances. It might be occasionally dry, but I do think it’s very much a classic.

Not being a religious individual myself, I don’t personally buy into any of the religious ramblings about the Antichrist, but unlike many exorcism films, I find that I can get into this movie far better, and it’s not all that trying. I think part of it is the fact I did first see this (or pieces of it) when I was quite young, and coupling that with the presence of a few familiar faces and classic scenes, despite not believing in the premise, I still have quite a good time.

I mean, just look at the kills here. From a woman hanging herself at a birthday party to a priest being impaled in front of a church, not to mention someone getting decapitated by a pane of glass and another individual getting pushed out a window of a hospital, there’s a lot to be found here if you’re primary concern is interesting deaths. In fact, the glass pane decapitation looks like it could be pulled out of any Final Destination movie, and while simpler in concept, the same could be said for the impalement.

Of course, it’s not only the deaths that stand out. There are a lot of great sequences, such as some characters being chased by rabid dogs in an old, dilapidated cemetery, or perhaps the baboon attack that Damien and his mother go through at the safari park. Even the finale is pretty solid all around, save for maybe the cheesiness of the final shot.

Gregory Peck (who I know best from the 1962 classic Cape Fear) was great as the lead, not buying into the Antichrist business at first (who can blame him – Patrick Troughton was a horrible messenger) but slowly figuring out the mystery and learning more about Damien’s origins. David Warner (Nightwing and a couple of other films) worked well with Peck, and the two of them scouring the Rome countryside, from monastery to cemetery, provided some of my favorite sequences in the film.

Patrick Troughton (not only one of my favorite Doctors from Doctor Who, but also The Gorgon) was a terrible messenger, but he did amazing as a religiously-inclined individual. He only got a few minutes of screen-time overall, but he dominated what he got with personality. Billie Whitelaw (Night Watch and Murder Elite) was somewhat similar, possessing a strong sinister aura. Leo McKern was a strong one-scene wonder, Lee Remick had her moments, and for a child actor, Harvey Stephens can smile with the best of them.

Overall, The Omen may not appeal to fans of more modern horror, as some of the film can feel a bit on the sluggish side. I wouldn’t call it a slow-burn – we get plenty of death throughout the whole of the movie – but it can be slow, and since it’s around an hour and 50 minutes, you might feel it. That said, I’ve always thought it hit most of the right spots, and like I said at the beginning, though I don’t find it amazing, I do think The Omen is pretty good.


La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba (1971)

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.