The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave


Year 1971

Anthony Steffen as Lord Alan Cunningham
Marina Malfatti as  Gladys Cunningham
Rod Murdock as George Harriman
Roberto Maldera   as Albert
Joan C. Davies as Aunt Agatha  
Giacomo Rossi Stuart   as Dr. Richard Timberlane  
 
Director - Emilio P. Miraglia
Screenwriters - Emilio P. Miraglia
  - Fabio Pittorru
  - Massimo Felisatti  

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is also known as La notte che Evelyn usć dalla tomba. Even though it translates the same, I mention this to point out that this an Italian movie. Don't let the names of the stars fool you. It's all chicanery and misdirection. For example, the real name of Rod Murdock is Enzo Tarascio. When watching this, expect that Italian stamp of incoherence.

Lord Alan Cunningham (Steffen) has a problem with redheads. His deceased wife was a redhead and she cheated on him. He was madly in love with her and she betrayed him. So, he's a bit psychotic around redheads, whipping them and killing them when he can. It doesn't help with his love/hate relationship with his dead wife but it doesn't hurt either. So, why not?

His friend, Dr. Richard Timberlane (Stuart), knows that Alan's a danger to others but since they're friends and the Lord hasn't been caught doing anything wrong, Dr. Timberlane suggests that Alan get remarried. Just the thing to settle your nerves and get over your homicidal tendancies, you know. Husbands never, ever, kill their wives.

You see Alan, being a Lord and all, is quite wealthy and he's given a lot of latitude, unlike George (Murdock/Tarascio), his relative who has to live, quite well actually, on a monthly allowance. Have you figured out the movie yet?

So, Alan remarries a girl with light brown hair named Gladys (Malfatti). There's wedded bliss unless he's slapping her around or she's wearing a red wig. Then, at the end, in about ten minutes screen time, everything falls apart.

The version that I watched was widescreen and I think it was the long version. It sure seemed longer than 88 minutes. But since there are at least a half dozen versions of the thing, so who knows?

In my version, only Alan's first victim was topless although Emily was seen naked from the rear. Her running in slow motion showed a lot of untoned jello shifting, so it wasn't the sexiest thing in the movie. The sexiest thing in the movie? The wheelchair bound Aunt Agatha (Davies). She could have given Barbara Steele a run for her money (and with the motorized wheelchair would have won).

The acting is pretty good, although I didn't warm to Malfatti as Gladys. There are some nice camera angles, like the one looking through the slashed canvas of Evelyn's portrait as if seeing things from Evelyn's eyes.

There are some major issues with this movie, however. For starters, what was that beginning about? Someone, probably Alan, is attempting to escape from a looney bin. Then, in the next scene he's taking home a hooker to torture and kill. Did the events at the asylum take place before or after what happens in the main part of the movie? The question is never answered directly. I suppose it's to keep you guessing. But still, it should have been tied together at the end.

Then there's the coincidences that keep piling up. Oh, Alan's being led by the nose, there's no doubt about it. But for what happens to actually happen is rolling dice.

There's also some question about whether Evelyn actually had an affair or if Alan was just dreaming it. Never answered, either.

The biggest problem is the ending. You should have figured it out early enough so that you're simply waiting for your Holmesian deductive skills to be confirmed. I guess there are two or more endings. The one that I saw has someone being fished out of a pool. Barrels of chemicals surround the pool until one by one they got knocked into the water and make it a toxic dump. I've never seen so many bags and drums of chemicals outside of a warehouse.

So, the mystery is solved, ghosts are put to rest, and Alan goes unpunished for killing people. It's like the writers forgot about the fact that Alan's a homicidal aristocrat. But maybe that's why the movie takes place in "England". Miraglia must hate royalty like "Lords" and thinks that ranks like that are corrupt and behave as if they're always beyond the law. Maybe.

A last problem with the movie is the fact that's it's slow. Oh sure, there's the early nudity and the occassional murder which are interesting. But for the most part the movie fails to keep you involved. In fact, sometimes it's kind of silly with bad 70s' discotheque music and attire (in Europe they didn't have discos, they had discotheques which were slightly different). When I was growing up in the 70s, I used to laugh at the kind of music that showed up in movies. Over 30s types, who had no clue about music, tried to imitate the popular stuff and ending up with a stodgy and staged product. The music, in fact the whole movie, is like that.

Blasphemy and nudity and dubbed dialog. Chick flick potential is a little below average. It's not a bad example of Italian schlock film making but there are better, like Suspiria or Black Sunday.


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