While not as high-profile or prolific as some legendary Italian horror/thriller auteurs we've covered on these pages, director Emilio Miraglia has developed a bit of a cult following, mainly due to a pair of creepy and twisty films: the 1972 release The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, and this oddity from the previous year. I picked this one for today's feature, not because it's the better-made of the two – Red Queen is a slicker production, much closer in style and tone to the popular gialli of the period – but because Evelyn is so defiantly weird, and also to emphasize the strange beauty of co-star Erika Blanc.
Fans of Euro-horror are already familiar with Erika's work – which includes a breakout role in Mario Bava's Kill, Baby, Kill! and a knockout performance as a sexy but terrifying succubus in the occult thriller The Devil's Nightmare. Her role in this film is nearly as memorable, not only for its kinkiness, but in the way her fiery red hair is used as a plot device. Blanc plays a stripper whose act involves her crawling out of a coffin – a routine which has a profound effect on wealthy but disturbed playboy Alan (Anthony Steffen), who came unglued after the death of his unfaithful wife Evelyn, and now brings home women who resemble her (i.e. redheads) to dispose of them in his basement torture chamber. He thinks he's finally cured of his obsession when he meets and falls in love with the apparently innocent Gladys (Marina Malfatti)... but if you know giallo at all, you know nothing is as it seems.
While Miraglia's technique is not as slick as some of his contemporaries, he does have a way with building creepy ambiance: Alan's mansion is the same used by Riccardo Freda in The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock, so just about any scene shot there is drenched in gothic texture, and the scenes of Evelyn romping (mostly naked) through the graveyard are pretty spooky, if a bit overused. It also has a suitably eerie score by Bruno Nicolai (who scored many films for Jess Franco, including Count Dracula starring Christopher Lee), and many lovely ladies in various states of undress. Plus the US promoters, who played up the exploitation angle, commissioned this truly awesome poster art:
After years of shoddy and heavily cut public-domain video transfers, Evelyn finally got some respect with an uncut DVD from No Shame, as part of their Emilio Miraglia “Killer Box Set,” which also includes Red Queen. It's out of print now, but easy to find; the Special Edition even includes a cool Red Queen figure, so it's cool but pricy.