Friday, October 10, 2014
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)
Okay, for this week's B-Movie Enema, I have another horror film from the 1970s. Now, unlike last week's, all the characters are supposedly English, but like last week's cleansing, we have yet another Italian flick. However, There aren't many other names this movie goes by other than the Italian or English translations.
From the 50-Movie Pure Terror DVD Set, our synopsis for this week reads: "An unstable English Lord, who mourns his deceased wife, frequents clubs looking for redheaded women to take to his home for bizarre activities. He eventually meets and marries a woman he hopes will drive away the demons from his tortured mind. Unfortunately, other forces are at work to drive the nobleman insane and spread terror throughout the household."
Not gonna lie - this sounds pretty good. Let's go ahead and place our bets now for what "bizarre activities" means in an Italian made movie. I bet this will contain just as much uncomfortable tomfoolery as the last enema did. Without further ado, let's get into this week's review... The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave!
The film opens with a man escaping from a hospital in the most cliched way ever - a rope made out of his sheets. Once on the ground, he sees nurses and orderlies chasing him. His point of view is shot very well in a blurry and distorted view. Just as he gets tot he gate, he's captured and brought back inside. A sign on the gate shows the place is a psychiatric hospital. We're off to a good start.
The credits come up to reveal to us a ton of Italian names over a man driving his sports car from the city to the country. He pulls over and it is revealed that he is the man trying to escape from the loony bin. With him is a saucy little redhead - that he yanks the hair of to make sure she's a real carrot top. He takes her to his mansion that he claims was once a castle but is becoming a ruin. The couple is being watched by a guy in the bushes that looks a little bit like a Mexican (just saying - he really looks like a Mexican gardener).
Inside, our main character (Lord Alan Cunningham), decides maybe he's not quite into the girl, but that doesn't stop him from giving her money for her time. I guess that means she's a whore? Sure, I guess she's a prostitute. Anyway, she grabs the money and immediately removes her top. So while she's full on tits out, she follows him to a dungeon like room where he whips her and straps her to some table and nearly brands her with a hot iron. He's only stopped by his dead wife, Evelyn, speaking to him. Ten minutes in and we've got uncomfortable nudity and near sex. Remind me to never go to Italy. Everything seems awesome on the surface but it gets really weird afterwards.
So, anyway, after he fantasizes about his dead wife running naked through a field, he snaps out of it and kills the prostitute.
Alan's doctor pays a visit. Alan tells him that he met a medium that will help him establish a connection to Evelyn to help with his "attacks" (which I'm guessing always ends with a dead hooker). The doc thinks this is all a bunch of poppycock, but accepts an invite to the seance. The guy I thought was a Mexican gardener approaches Alan after the doc leaves and says he wants money for the noises he heard the night before. However, the gardener guy seemed to have a French accent in the overdub so maybe he was a French Mexican...?
So the seance begins and we get a POV shot of something coming toward the house. It's just Evelyn's brother saying he has as much right as anyone to be there. The seance produces a ghostly vision of Evelyn saying she wants him to come to her right now. Alan passes out. The doc comes in and is told if Alan didn't faint he could have talked to Evelyn.
We soon find ourselves in a scene where these guys are carrying in a casket to a room with some onlookers. However, this isn't a funeral. It's a club. The casket opens and a redheaded stripper comes out and begins dancing to some real groovy music. When the lights go out, some cat calls happen, but when the lights come back up, of course Alan is entertaining the dancer and, again, is pulling her hair to make sure the red hair is real. He offers her a $1000 pounds to spend the weekend with her. Guess what... She accepts and she dances for him in his dungeon. He has her put on the boots that the previous dead hooker put on, and begins whipping the shit out of her before choking her out. She comes to and tries to get away when she sees Alan preparing a syringe of something. She gets outside despite the fact that boots are not the best footwear to run in on uncarpeted floors made of stone. Alan passes out again and in the morning, the dancer is not around, but I guess she was taken care of?
That day, the doc suggests that Alan should stay in the mansion (even though earlier he told him to get a way from there asap) and to marry someone (if he knew what Alan was into, maybe he wouldn't suggest this, but what do I know). He hires someone to fix up the old mansion, and at a party some time later, he meets a redhead that's dressed like a belly dancer. For real, she's dressed like a straight up belly dancer. They hit it off and Alan actually doesn't seem like a lunatic - that is until he takes her home and asks her to marry him. He tells her he wants to marry her because he wants to take her to bed, but they end up there anyway. Sooooo... You can ask a girl to marry you to get her in bed? Why hasn't anyone ever told me that before?!?
Alan calls his buddy to tell him he and this girl he met are getting married. What I can only assume is the very next day, Alan takes his new bride home where he introduces her to his aunt and his shrink. You know, the two most important people in all men's lives. Agatha shows off the four maids she personally hired for them and, if that's kinda weird to do on your wedding day, they all look exactly the same with blonde afros and everything.
At this point, I finally realize the French Mexican guy is actually Evelyn's brother we saw show up at the seance. He gives some exposition about how it is a mistake for him to remarry because of whatever reason. However, it seems Evelyn died because she couldn't have children and Alan pushed the idea of kids on her. So maybe she died in childbirth? Maybe she caught some fatal pregnancy or some such shit?
While Alan and his new wife, Gladys (because that's a common Italian name), are making some sweet love, Gladys mentions she saw a maid with red hair. This freaks Alan out because Evelyn apparently had red curly hair, though it seems as if she kinda has brown hair in most of the flashbacks. After interrogating the maids about the night before, Aunt Agatha goes outside where she meets up with her lover, Albert (the French Mexican brother of Evelyn). Later, Alan is called outside by Evelyn's ghost. He has another breakdown and envisions their naked love making in the garden one more time.
At this point, we're an hour into the movie and I can't stop thinking about how much Alan looks like the love child of Ricardo Montalban and George Lazenby. I also am starting to form questions. Like why is Albert so cool with is former brother-in-law bringing hookers home and killing them? Is he just money hungry to keep quiet or is it part of a grander scheme of revenge? What about aunt Agatha? What's her role in all this? I guess it's good that I'm this interested in a pretty bland movie, but it's just that - it's a really bland movie despite all the kinky shit in the first 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, Gladys is talking to the doc about Evelyn's death. It's revealed that while Alan blames himself for Evelyn dying in childbirth it's actually Evelyn who wanted to have the kid. It appears Alan was going to ask for a divorce and even though the doc warned against it, Evelyn hoped having a child would keep him around. She begins to question whether or not Evelyn is actually dead. She goes into the family tomb where she's met by Albert who already dislikes the fact that she's sleeping in the bed Evelyn shared with Alan, but she's also wanting to see inside her grave. While Gladys goes further into the tomb, someone pulls a snake out of his brief case. When Evelyn's coffin is opened, there is no body. While looking on, Albert is bitten by the snake and buried.
While still discussing the redheaded maid, Alan's friend suggests it was probably a thief. When Agatha checks the family silverware, she finds all of it has been stolen. Later, Agatha sees Gladys go outside and decides to follow her. Now, Agatha, I should mention, is mostly wheelchair bound and spends most of the movie rolling around in an electric wheelchair that has a very loud whirring sound. Maybe not the best thing to quietly follow someone in, but it doesn't matter, a mysterious figure bludgeons her to death with a rock. While Gladys goes back into the family crypt, Alan finds her and begins to smack her down pretty good until he's interrupted by the news of Albert being killed. Meanwhile, the body of Agatha is disposed of in the fox cages Alan has on his property where she is eaten. Apparently foxes are into human flesh. Who knew?
Later, Alan sees the portrait of Evelyn, and after another fantasy of naked sex in the garden, he's strangling Gladys and tells her she should know how the portrait affects him because, duh, it's her fault that he's strangling her. Gladys is given permission to destroy the portrait. She does so hoping that it will solve their problems. Later, during a storm, Gladys swears she sees Evelyn outside. Alan gets her something to help her sleep and goes outside to see if he can find whoever is causing all these problems. Alan goes into the family tomb where a redheaded woman with a skull face climbs out of a coffin. The figure takes off the mask and wig and it's Gladys. At this point, I have no idea what's going on.
Alan's doctor has him transferred to the clinic since he has finally broken down. completely. Gladys smiles after he's taken away. At the reading of his plans for his incapacitated state, it turns out that Alan's pal, George (who was present at the party where Gladys met Alan) is taking over the estate and Gladys gets to live at the mansion. George and Gladys go to a cottage to celebrate, but he poisons her, and reveals to her that the stripper that Alan last attempted to kill is scheming with him this whole time. Before dying, Gladys grabs a knife and stabs the stripper. George helps neither woman.and after the stripper dies, George tells Gladys "The worms are waiting" which is a pretty damn cool line and ties back to our poster I embedded at the start of the article. Alan and his doc arrive at the cottage to catch George. Trying to get away George pops the doc in the balls with a branch. Alan pushes George into the pool and pours in some acid that burns George who gets taken away by the police ending our feature for this week.
I have to say that despite the first half hour that was terribly brutal and depraved with all the bondage murders and whatnot, this was a pretty good flick. It was definitely worthy of the watch. I wish it would have been 10-20 minutes shorter, but it's pretty effective in its pacing and tone. You start to second guess exactly how much of this is Alan's mind collapsing, or if it really is a ghost story, or if it is some sort of revenge plot. The final reveal of George being behind it all was done well too because he even puppets the two women into killing each other off.
Unlike last week's stinker, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave isn't a cheap knockoff of another popular horror movie with added T&A. It's original. Alan is a flawed character struggling with his mental stability, but you kind of wonder if he isn't being manipulated or simply being used by those around him because of his money and relative free lifestyle. Yeah, he kills some prostitutes, but who hasn't in their time?
Bottom line, if you want something a little different for a good spookshow, give this one a try. It's far from perfect, but it's really not that bad.