THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE. Phoenix Cinematografica, Italy, 1971, as La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba. Phase One, US, 1972; dubbed. Anthony Steffen, Marina Malfatti, Enzo Tarascio (as Rod Murdock), Giacomo Rossi Stuart. Direcctor: Emilio Miraglia.

   The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave starts off as an uncomfortably sleazy enterprise before transforming into a gripping, moody Gothic thriller. Directed by Emilio P. Miraglia, this stylish Italian giallo film has the typical sex and violence that is prevalent in the genre. But what it also has – what gives the film a little something extra – is a Gothic atmosphere that owes as much to Roger Corman’s cinematic adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems as to the emerging Italian proto-slasher genre of which it is indubitably a part.

   Although an Italian film with dialogue in Italian (there’s also apparently an English language version), the movie is set in England. Aristocrat Alan Cunningham (Anthony Steffen) lives a decadent lifestyle in his family’s estate. His wife, the beautiful redheaded Evelyn, has recently died. But not before he was able to confront her about her infidelities. So Alan is a little … mentally unbalanced. So much so that he has a penchant for bringing red headed prostitutes back to his lair so he can have his way with them.

   All that changes when he meets Gladys (Marina Malfatti), a stripper who Alan decides is going to be his next wife. All seems well finally for the tormented Alan. But when Alan’s family members begin to die in horrifically mysterious ways, it seems as if he may be cursed. Perhaps his wife Evelyn has indeed come back from the grave to exact revenge. Or maybe someone is playing a giant prank, a cruel trick to send the wealthy Alan over the edge in order to inherit his large fortune.

   If you can manage to overlook the giant plot holes in the story, you might just find yourself a bit enthralled with The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave. Although it’s not nearly as good a film as Dario Argento’s output from the same era, it has a stylish flair, some really dark humor, and an effective score composed by Bruno Nicolai.