FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

May 23, 2016

VHS Week Day 12: THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE (1971)


I knew nothing about The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave going into it, but I certainly had some expectations thanks to the awful label on this VHS edition. Every single thing about it screams EXPLOITATION WITH TEN EXCLAMATION MARKS. It's distributed by Something Weird Video, purveyors of cult garbage; it's endorsed (somehow? I guess?) by Frank Henenlotter, writer/director of cult garbage (Frankenhooker, Basket Case); it's a SEXY SHOCKER for ADULTS ONLY. I found myself anticipating something along the lines of Nude for Satan: crazy sexy EuroSleaze. But my friends, Evelyn is not that. I have been misled! Which is a shame, because my brain spent too long going "Where is the crazy sexy EuroSleaze?" before realizing that the videotape lied. Ah, horror movie advertising, messing things up again. ("PREACH!" - Crimson Peak "I FEEL YOU, GURL!" - Bug '06)

Side note one: please know that when I say "cult garbage" it is not disparaging, but rather meant with all the love my cold, black heart can muster.

Side note two: "Crazy Sexy EuroSleaze" is my favorite TLC album.

The Night Evelyn Really Needed Some Moisturizer But Her Hair Looked Pretty Good All Things Considered

Lord Alan Cunningham is a wealthy playboy with a bit of a problem: he just can't stop murdering redheaded prostitutes! They remind him of his dead wife Evelyn, you see, who cheated on him and died in childbirth. He's tried just about everything to cure himself, from psychiatry to séances, but nothing works. As a last resort, he marries a woman with blonde hair. That should work, right? Never mind that they will be living in the castle he shared with Evelyn, that Evelyn's brother still lives there too, and that there is a big portrait of Evelyn in the master bedroom. The new wife is blonde! Evelyn will be forgotten in no time.

Evelyn, however, is done with all that going quietly into that good night shit. She's, you know, come out of the grave to drive Alan mad and to kill kill KILL!

Maybe. The story twists and turns and we're kept guessing if Evelyn is really back, if she's Alan's guilt made real or imagined, or if she's something else entirely. "People who are supposed to be dead may not be dead" and "let's scare the protagonist to death" are two of my favorite horror subgenres, and Evelyn wraps 'em up in a stylish gothic giallo package.

There is a hint of EuroSleaze: some delightfully weird strip numbers, plenty of bare breasts, the kind of sex scene where naked people just roll around together, and a little whipping in Alan's Torture Dungeon for Prostitutes. But "SEXY SHOCKER" and "ADULTS ONLY" are pure hyperbole, for it's all quite tame, sort of PG-with-boobs. Not that this is a problem, since I wasn't really in the mood for "man explicitly beats and murders hookers." Not that I'm ever really in the mood for that, but you know what I'm saying. Ultimately Evelyn is a very late night horror movie/drive-in feeling flick that boasts more than a few memorable moments. It's worth a look, especially if you know what you'll be lookin' at.

5 comments:

Nicholas Kaufmann said...

This movie is cuckoo. I still can't figure out why we're supposed to root for a murderer, except that some people espouse the theory that he isn't actually murdering them, the people who are trying to kill him are also framing him or something. But the movie is such a mess, who can tell? I bet even the writer and director don't know!

Stacie Ponder said...

I've read that there are approximately a zillion cuts of this movie and some of them are virtually incomprehensible with scenes out of order, etc.

I was glad the torture dungeon was dropped very early on, although it's still so bizarre that he's the "hero." And it doesn't feel so much like OH I NEED TO STOP MURDERING INNOCENT WOMEN as it is UGH MY LIFE, WOE IS ME! Then again, there are a lot of "poor murderin' dudes" as protagonists in horror, it's certainly not unique to Evelyn.

Nicholas Kaufmann said...

I have it uncut on DVD, and believe me it doesn't make any more sense!

Eliot Blades said...

I have the special edition box set which pairs this with "The Red Queen Kills Seven Times", which actually comes with a 7-inch figurine of the red queen herself (the killer in that film runs around in a white mask and red cape combo, which is as awesome as it sounds).

The same two films (they're both directed by Miraglia) have been recently re-released by Arrow in the UK (and, I guess in the US - since they set up a US arm).

I can't remember a lot about this film apart from the print I have looks great and the blonde actress has a huge overbite. And that's its really unconvincingly set in the UK.

Robert Kirby said...

I love Evelyn. It's the kind of nonsensical trash Italy used to churn out by the carloads back in the day but not anymore. Not anymore. :(