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Killer Dames (1971-1972) Arrow Video Blu-ray Review

28 May 2016 | Features, Reviews | by Raul J. Vantassle

killer dames arrow bluray review

New from Arrow Video is the Blu-ray/DVD release of the box set titled Killer Dames, which is a collection of two Italian Giallo films from director Emilio P. Miraglia featuring The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave and The Red Queen Kills Seven Times.

Giallo is a term which is often disputed on in regards to what it truly is, but basically it’s an Italian murder-mystery thriller. What makes these two distinctive from most of the other Giallo pictures is that they feature gothic settings within a modern world.

 

The Night that Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)

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Alan Cunningham is a wealthy aristocrat who has a penchant for torturing and murdering redheads that resemble his dead wife Evelyn. Needless to say he has some mental issues and often has recurring visions of her. He decides to get married and try and turn his life around.

After he gets married and returns to live in his gothic family estate, various relatives begin to get killed and strange occurrences are taking place that suggest Evelyn may not be dead after all. Has Alan lost his mind or is Evelyn really back from the dead?

Comparing the two films, this is the weaker of them. It is somewhat uneven but is still interesting and has some memorable moments. There are multiple plot twists that are typical of the Giallo genre and they make for an exciting final 15 or so minutes.

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The gothic settings and the castle that they use are very nice and mix well with the modern furniture and clothing that is featured. Other gothic elements in this are a séance scene and a torture room where Alan tortures unsuspecting women much like the Marquis De Sade.

The score is absolutely incredible from the great Bruno Nicolai. There is one particularly memorable burlesque sequence involving the beautiful Erika Blanc where a coffin is carried out onto a stage and she proceeds to climb out of it and dance. There is pretty much nonstop nudity throughout the picture.

The main issue with this movie is the selection of Anthony Steffen as Alan, who doesn’t do the greatest job at showing the nuances of being driven into a state of insanity. Someone else would have been better suited. It is still an interesting selection in the giallo genre especially for the memorable burlesque scene and the final climatic ending with multiple twists and turns.

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The quality and restoration is absolutely superb, much better than any previous version that I had seen before. Most previous versions were pan and scanned, cutting off almost half of the picture. A previous version that I have is widescreen, but the picture quality is somewhat fuzzy and the colors are not as fluent as in the restoration. Watching both versions you can see how they removed thousands of pieces of dirt, debris, and scratches using a combination of tools.

The extras include four interviews, one from film critic Stephen Trower, two from actress Erika Blanc, and one from production designer Lorenzo Baraldi. The total running time of the interviews comes in at around 68 minutes. I found the interview from Trower the most interesting of the four, with the ones from Blanc being somewhat repetitive.

The audio commentary is from film author Troy Howarth, who specializes in Giallo and Italian cinema and has released several books on the subject matter. He is well informed and it is a very interesting and worthwhile listen for true giallo fans.

 

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972)

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An old family curse says that every one hundred years, the Red Queen returns to kill off seven victims for the seven times that she was stabbed. A string of murders starts to occur when first a pair of sister’s grandfather is murdered by what appears to be a mysterious woman in red. Are the sisters Kitty and Franziska (Barabra Bouchet and Marina Malfatti) truly cursed? Has one of their ghostly ancestors returned to claim them as victims or is there something far more sinister taking place?

This is by far the more superior of the two movies. With a larger budget, they were able to shoot in some absolutely stunning old gothic locations. Mostly filmed in a small town just outside of Munich, the old town and large castles chew up the scenery and add an extra element to the picture.

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This is juxtaposed with modern locations and clothing with most of the family and victims being involved in the fashion industry. All of this makes this one seem much grander than the previous film.

Once again composer Bruno Nicolai has creating a simply amazing score for the picture. The villain in this is far more memorable with the flowing read cape, knife, and shrill laughing. There is an excellent dream sequence with the killer running down a long hallway holding the knife in the air; it is one of the most memorable scenes of the movie. There are more ambitious camera shots and angles and the kills are far more gruesome and bloody.

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The acting overall is much better, with great performances from Bouchet and Malfatti. Like the other film, there are multiple plot twists and turns at the ending with a very large scale and elaborate finale that is quite impressive.

The quality and restoration is once again absolutely superb, however I cannot say how well the restoration is compared to previous version. There are six interviews on the extras totaling at around 65 minutes. The critic interview from Thrower is decent again and there is one with Sybil Danning who gives a brief intro into the start of her film career. Audio commentary from film critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman is nicely done.

 

Overall

The packaging is excellent. The two movies come in a Box that also includes a 60 page booklet containing pictures and critical essays from James Blackford, Kat Ellinger, Leonard Jacobs and Rachael Nisbet. As usual with Arrow’s essays, they are all very insightful and worth your time.

If you are a true Giallo fan or love murder mysteries, then this is an essential piece to pick up and well worth your time.

 

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

Limited Edition box set (3000 copies) containing The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave and The Red Queen Kills Seven Times
Brand new 2K restorations of the films from the original camera negatives
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (lossless DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray Discs)
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
Limited Edition 60-page booklet containing new writing by James Blackford, Kat Ellinger, Leonard Jacobs and Rachael Nisbet

THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE

New audio commentary by Troy Howarth
Exclusive introduction by actress Erika Blanc
New interview with critic Stephen Thrower
The Night Erika Came Out of the Grave – exclusive interview with Erika Blanc
The Whip and the Body – archival interview with Erika Blanc
Still Rising from the Grave – archival interview with production designer Lorenzo Baraldi
Original Italian and US theatrical trailers
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES

New audio commentary by Alan Jones and Kim Newman
Exclusive new interview with Sybil Danning
New interview with critic Stephen Thrower
Archival introduction by production/costume designer Lorenzo Baraldi
Dead à Porter – archival interview with Lorenzo Baraldi
Rounding Up the Usual Suspects – archival interview with actor Marino Masé
If I Met Emilio Miraglia Today – archival featurette with Erika Blanc, Lorenzo Baraldi and Marino Masé
My Favourite… Films – archival interview with actress Barbara Bouchet
Alternative opening
Original Italian theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

Taste of Cinema Rating: 9/10

Author Bio: Raul J. Vantassle is a jazz musician whose key strokes move about the page creating an explosion of formlessness to form, or just total bullshit. His heroes include John Waters, Robert Crumb, Charles Bukowski, and the Cobra Commander. His Knowledge of film goes across the board but he specializes in Asian and cult cinema. He may be the filthiest person alive. You can visit his blog here.

 

 


   

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