Arrow Video strikes again with a couple of killer Giallo’s from Emilio Miraglia with vengeance filled nuptial nightmare The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave and the excellent The Red Queen Kills Seven Times both coming in gorgeous 2K transfers befitting the lush visuals on offer.
As with all Giallo’s however it’s not all style over content and there is tons of style on show in The Red Queen Kills Seven Times which opens on sisters Kitty and Evelyn whose strange childhood in the ancient sinister castle is filled with fractious arguments and physical fights.
After one terrible tiff which transforms into a murder attempt when a sister picks up a knife and threatens her sibling with it their Grandfather (Suspiria and The Exorcist star Rudolf Schündler) reveals the tragic curse which fell on the family when two queens also sisters started the tragic cycle of death which lead to the Red Queen being murdered by the Black Queen and then resurrecting to seek revenge killing seven times for each of the stab wounds she received.
Having visited pain on the family before the legend says that the next date for death is set for 1972 and when it arrives although Kitty (Barbara Bouchet) now a successful fashion photographer for popular clothing brand Springe, is dubious of the tall tale her Grandfather spun, when he is stabbed to death by a black haired woman wearing a red clock and laughing manically she is forced to face the fact that it may be real.
With her friends falling all around her by the Red Queen’s blade and her older sister Franziska (Marina Malfatti) freaking out Kitty is plunged into a nightmare brought to life especially as the police’s prime suspect is Evelyn who everyone thinks is in America but Kitty knows full well is dead because she killed her.
Bringing all the brilliant tropes of the Italian Giallo genre to the forefront director Emilio Miraglia and screenwriter Fabio Pittorru, who also wrote The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave, craft a gripping thriller with sensational set pieces and enough twists and turns to keep any whodunit fan transfixed.
The fashion world setting of The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is the perfect fit for a 70’s Giallo being that they are films overflowing with sex, great visuals and a flair for the dramatic exactly like Kitty’s work place which is filled with bitchy busty women, including Howling II’s Sybil Danning, all out to take her down and get ahead in the company.
Directly counter to the modernity of Kitty’s job where much of the film takes place is the gothic feel to the plot and themes set up in the opening and the unsettling painting depicting the Red and Black Queen’s final moments all of which evoke Edgar Allan Poe and works like The Fall of the House of Usher.
Although taking the usual route of police investigation and increasing dead ends and danger it’s the gothic infusion that works best of all in The Red Queen Kills Seven with the more supernatural elements including the age-old curse, pre-teen possession and the apparent return from the dead of Kitty’s sister giving it another innovation. All these story elements are placed in perfectly without weight one way or the other leaving it up to the viewer to decide if it’s all explainable or something more otherworldly.
A great Giallo and a must have for fans of the genre The Red Queen Kills Seven proves that films from that period of Italian cinema had much more to offer than just blood hungry psychopaths and police procedure.