1/3/09

Dollar Dealicious: The Night She Came Back From The Tomb (1971)

Dollar Deals is doing a little something different this month. I'm taking a break from the usual single or double feature $1 DVD's and changing it up. I was looking around one of the more upscale dollar stores (Family Dollar I expect compensation for calling you upscale.) and I happened across a bunch of DVD sets featuring anywhere from 6 to 15 films. While most of them were Lassie films or compilations of TV shows, one caught my eye, Horrorlicious. Despite it's inane cover art and title it seemed to have at least a few quality films including Gothic and The House on the Edge of the Park. 

The other titles I wasn't aware of, but seeing as it had seven other films I figured I'd give it a shot, and for 6 bucks it would probably be well worth it. Well, I was right. Although many of the transfers are not Criterion Collection clean, they are some great films in a more than watchable format at a bargain price. After all nine flicks for 6 bucks, well, that's well under a dollar each. So this month on Dollar Deals I'll be reviewing 5 total films from this set, and if you'd like to pick up one of your own I have it over in the sidebar in The Lightning Bug Store. Amazon lists the package new at 9.98, but there are more than a few copies there waiting to be picked up for around four bucks. So check it out, it's a pretty nice set for the price. 

Anyhow, on with the show. Tonight I have for you something special. A film that I found to be a real cracking good time, a whip cracking good time that is. You see tonight is....

The Night She Came Back From the Tomb (La notte che Evelyn usci dalla tomba) (1971) starring Anthony Steffen, Marina Malfatti, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, and Enzo Tarascio. Directed by Emilio Miraglia. 


Allen (Steffen) has some serious problems. Ever since he killed his wife Evelyn in a fit of rage over her infidelity, all he wants to do is search out redheaded women, make them put thigh high black boots on, whip them, and kill them. Thankfully he's under the care of his psychologist, Dr. Richard Timberlane (Rossi-Stuart) who seems to understand Allen's desires and hopes that his patient doesn't get arrested. He wants Allen to remarry, but Allen's bachelor cousin George (Tarascio) is happy to have him single. In fact George seeks out new redheads that he thinks might tickle his cousin's fancy.

One evening when George and Allen go to a dinner party, Allen meets Gladys (Malfatti) a beautiful redheaded woman, but unlike the whores and strumpets that Allen sates his murderous desires with, he genuinely likes Gladys and asks her to marry him that night. She accepts and comes to live in Allen's mansion alongside his wheelchair bound Aunt Agatha and her lover, Evelyn's good for nothing brother Albert. 

Everything seems cosy in their new home, and Allen has even given up his perversions and blood lust, but everything changes when a redheaded woman is seen mysteriously prowling the grounds of the estate. Allen's obsession with his dead wife begins to mount anew and soon Allen is loosing his grip on reality. Yet, is it Evelyn risen from the dead, or is someone trying to drive Allen insane for their own fiendish reasons?


Film Facts

--Director Miraglia would go on to direct the giallo Red Queen Kills 7 Times (1972) a.k.a Blood Feast  in the United States, but obviously with no relation to the H.G. Lewis classic.

--Marcelo Di Paolo who did the makeup design for this film would work on Jungle Holocaust in 1977. (Cheap plug for Feature Friday's review of JH coming this week!)

--Marina Malfatti later worked with Sergio Martino and Umberto Lenzi in their gialli films. She would also appear in a film which I love the title to The Return of Clint the Stranger, a spaghetti western.

The Bug Speaks

This film was a complete surprise to me. I started watching it after scanning the titles on the disk. With a name like that, it surely had me interested. As I started watching the film, it seemed mildly interesting at first with Allen and his predilection to S&M inspired murder, but it quickly began to drag. It was like the script read my mind because as soon as I though that this movie might just kind of suck, it took a turn to being a very taught little giallo. I was expecting a tale of the supernatural, and there are elements of such on display throughout the film, but it boils down to a who done it that leaves you guessing at it's twists and turns up to the final scene. 

There was a great deal of fine acting on display here. Steffen did an admirably job making a killer and sex pervert into a character that the audience would not loathe. His work grounded the film, and made it possible to believe his decent into madness. Also very good was Enzo Tarascio as lecherous cousin George. He seemed every bit the early '70's Playboy inspired man that he was supposed to be. The ladies of the film were nothing to turn your nose up at either. There's a parade of beautiful and generally undressed redheads in the early part of the film, but they all pale in comparison to Marina Malfatti as Gladys. While given an unfortunate character name, she overcomes it with beauty and grace that makes it easy to see why Allen might fall for her. 

The direction of the film is handed well if not deftly. There were some nice sweeping shots courtesy of cinematographer Gastone Di Giovanni, but the Gothic setting of the film lacks the rich color palette or mod '70 style of other contemporary gialli. The real standout that ties the film together is the music of Bruno Nicolai who also worked on  Your Vice is a Locked Room and The Case of the Bloody Iris. Again his music stands out and ties the tone of the movie together. 

The movie was filled with tons of crazy circumstances with each one adding to the bizarreness of the world. You get strippers coming out of coffins, foxes devouring bodies, death by snake, Allen dressing up like he knew what you did last summer, and possibly the best low speed chase of all time. I wish I could elaborate on each one of these things, but honestly I don't want to take anything away from the experience this film offers. 

So this was a fine start to the set, but I do have to make one negative about the experience. The quality of the transfer is poor, and most likely not better than your average videotape. However it took nothing away from the film for me. While I would relish seeing it later in a cleaner format, the price I paid it was well worth it. So check it out, and check out Dollar Deals next week for another Dollar-licous good time.

Bug Rating

3 comments:

  1. Nice review.Does this movie have anything to do with THE NIGHT EVELYN RETURNED FROM THE GRAVE? It seems familiar.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes that is one of the Alternate titles to the film. I guess the real title as the Italian translates to The Night Evelyn Rose From The Tomb. I suppose I should have mentioned that, god call there Fran.

    ReplyDelete

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