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THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE (1971) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , on April 1, 2010 by goregirl

I would be the first to admit I am far more forgiving of older horror films than new. Case in point, I actually liked ‘The Night Evelyn Came Out Of the Grave’. This film is sloppy and downright ridiculous at times, but it is also insanely demented with a few bizarre and indisputable moments of greatness. WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Lord Alan Cunningham is haunted by his wife Evelyn’s death. The deeply disturbed Lord has taken to bringing back redhead’s to his castle’s torture chamber. In an attempt at living a normal life, he decides to take a wife after knowing her for only a few hours. But wedded bliss doesn’t last long when his new wife Gladys begins seeing his dead wife Evelyn.

‘The Night Evelyn Came Out Of the Grave’ opens with a heavily drugged man attempting to escape from a mental hospital. The next scene is the Lord driving with a redheaded companion. He creates a reason to pull over and get out of the car at which time he slides out his licence plates to expose another set underneath. That spells big time trouble for red! He takes her to his castle, which is in complete shambles save one large well appointed room. She can’t wait to get naked and the lord can’t wait to show her his torture chamber! After he insists she put on a pair of thigh high black boots he whips her, bounds her and then pulls out a red-hot branding iron from the fire. He is suddenly struck with a vision of his dead wife Evelyn and his attention is temporarily averted but alas he snaps out of it and poor Polly is polished off. So in the first 10 minutes of the film we’ve established that Lord Alan Cunningham is completely out of his fucking mind!

Practically everyone in this film is a sleazebag or has ulterior motives. Groundskeeper Albert is Evelyn’s brother. Albert spends his time spying on the Lord and then bribing him. Cunningham’s cousin George is complicit in the Lord’s crimes and introduces him to his female victims. Aunt Agatha, who looks as though she is at least 10 years younger than the Lord is faking being bound to a wheelchair, and is having sex on the sly with groundskeeper Albert. Even his brand spanking new wife seems to have her own agenda. I couldn’t find any issues with Cunningham’s psychiatrist Dr. Timberlane other than he isn’t a very good doctor. His patient is a recluse living in a huge castle by his lonesome and doc recommends he move to the city and have some fun and then a short time after he advises it would be best if he stayed in the castle?! Doc is also undecided whether he thinks it is a good idea for Lord nutzoid to participate in a séance to make contact with his dead wife. I’m not a psychiatrist myself, but it sure as hell sounds like a bad idea to me! There would be lots of suspects if there was a mystery but there is really no twist to the story until the final quarter of the film. The acting wasn’t all that bad. Anthony Steffen who plays Lord Cunningham is a bit flat and overly serious but doesn’t have bad presence. Marina Malfatti, who plays new wife Gladys is quite spunky and is dressed in some of the most gravity-defying nighties I have ever seen. Her final moment in the film was one of my absolute favourite scenes. Erica Blanc is definitely memorable as Susie, a bold redheaded stripper. Susie’s act begins with her being carried out in a satin-lined coffin, she rises and blows out several candles and then does her macabre go-go. Susie accepts the Lords offer of 1000 pounds to spend the weekend with him. She ends up running for her life wearing nothing more than a pair of black thigh high boots.

‘The Night Evelyn Came Out Of the Grave’ has a few too many irrelevant scenes that run longer than they should. There is a séance where Evelyn appears in ghostly form and Lord Cunningham faints and she disappears. This is a pretty significant event but it is never discussed again. This film is not a ghost story, which is made crystal clear in the climax, so what was with the freaking ghost? There is no questioning Cunningham’s madness, but by the end he appears not only completely sane but also vindicated of his crimes!! There is a whole double-crossing plot at the end involving multiple characters and when all is said and done Lord Cunningham comes out of it looking like the victim. What the hell?! But as I mentioned the film does have its moments of glory and a few bizarre and notable bits. At one point Lord Alan asks his lawyer to arrange a restoration of the castle and the whole creepy clan move in. Lord Cunningham has a rule about no red heads in the house (unless of course those red heads are being escorted directly in to the torture chamber). So Aunt Agatha takes it upon herself to outfit the new maids in blond afro wigs. It’s chocked full of naked flesh and has a bit of blood and gore. The films best horror moment comes when a character is smashed on the head with a rock and is fed to the family’s penned foxes. There are even cute little baby foxes ripping and tearing at clothing to get to the delicious flesh and entrails underneath. Ahhhhh! So cute! My favourite scene in the film is definitely the reveal featuring the mother of all catfights. There is no hair pulling or scratching though, just lots of stabbing!

I have long sung the praises of the ‘Something Weird’ label and their entertaining array of extras. ‘Something Weird’ presents ‘The Night Evelyn Came Out Of the Grave’ in all its uncut glory, although the transfer of the film itself does look a bit rough at times. Beware of badly cut versions and get your hands on this one. Although ‘The Night Evelyn Came Out Of the Grave’ is not a perfect film by any means it definitely has it great moments. Recommended with warning.

Dungeon Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Emilio Miraglia

Starring: Anthony Steffen, Marina Malfatti, Erika Blanc, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Enzo Tarascio, Umberto Raho, Roberto Maldera, Joan C. Davis, Ettore Bevilacqua, Maria Teresa Tofano