Killer Dames (Boxed Set)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jun 02, 2016
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Killer Dames (Boxed Set)

Director

Emilio P. Miraglia

Release Date(s)

1972/1976 (May 24, 2016)

Studio(s)

Arrow Video
  • Film/Program Grade: See Below
  • Video Grade: See Below
  • Audio Grade: See Below
  • Extras Grade: B+
  • Overall Grade: B+

Killer Dames (Blu-ray Box Set)

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Review

Arrow Video is back again with two pseudo-giallo classics from the early 1970’s: The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave and The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, both directed by Emilio P. Miraglia and both included in Arrow’s Killer Dames boxed set. Evelyn tells the story of a man who is slowly losing his mind upon possibly seeing his dead wife roaming the grounds around his home, soon discovering that her crypt has been mysteriously opened. Red Queen tells the story of a young woman who is haunted by her dead sister, whom she supposedly and accidentally killed long ago. Now her sister is somehow back and out for revenge, threatening to kill her and everyone around her.

To be honest, I hadn’t seen Red Queen before delving into this boxed set, but I was familiar with Evelyn as I have a couple of those multiple movie sets from Echo Bridge and Mill Creek, and it’s featured on at least one of them. I quickly realized while re-watching it that I had totally forgotten it after I originally saw it, and I think part of the reason is because it looked so terrible compared to the quality of this Blu-ray release. Seeing it now, I realize now that it’s actually a bit more visually interesting than I originally gave it credit for. I can’t say that I give as much credit to the story, however, as it’s a bit on the erratic side. It really doesn’t begin to pick up steam until the third act when everything that’s been slowly building is finally paid off, but in a way that didn’t really have much to do with the multiple threads before it. The movie also has a difficult time trying to decide what exactly it's about at first. It manages to find its footing, but it’s a very bumpy start and could probably have used a little more time in the editing room, or even a re-write.

Red Queen, on the other hand, knows exactly what it is and what it’s about: it’s a giallo, through and through, and much more focused story-wise. It’s also a more visually-arresting film, with plenty of variety as far as color and settings. Performances are better, as well, especially from Barbara Bouchet. It has just about as much nudity as the previous film, but also has a much higher body count (the film’s title should tell you everything you need to know). And although by the end things get a little convoluted, the setup and the execution of it are very well done.

Both films in this boxed set are not the most effective films found within the genre, but they definitely exhibit enough to pursue their restoration and release. They both feature a mish-mash of different ideas, but both executed very differently. You can definitely see seeds of ideas like gloved killers, hidden agendas, and hard-driving soundtracks that would later become staples for filmmakers like Dario Argento. As is, they’re merely the beginnings of what giallos eventually became known for, with an abundance of nudity and over-the-top performances.

Arrow Video’s transfers for each movie in this Region A/B boxed set reveal very similar presentations. Both feature 2K restorations from the original camera negatives with very refined film grain and are extremely organic in appearance. There’s some nice depth and excellent detailing while colors are strong in both presentations, although Red Queen actually looks a little more saturated by comparison. Blacks are quite deep, but some crush occurs from time to time, most likely stemming from the original photography. Contrast and brightness are at excellent levels as well. Besides not carrying any signs of digital enhancement, there are also no major film artifacts leftover either as they’re both very clean presentations. As for the audio, both carry Italian and English tracks in mono LPCM. Both feature very clean audio presentations with very clear dialogue, ample sound effects, and strong music, even though it’s all a bit on the dated side (which can’t be helped). They’re very centered presentations, obviously, but they have some nice depth and are a bit robust at times, even for mono tracks. Overall, there are solid presentations on both discs. There are also subtitles in English on both films, whether you’re watching them with Italian or English audio.

THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C-/B+/B+

THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B+/B+

As for extras, there are plenty to go around. For The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, there’s an introduction to the movie by Erika Blanc; an audio commentary with Troy Howarth; a Remembering Evelyn featurette; The Night Erika Came Out of the Grave, an interview with Blanc; both the Italian and English theatrical trailers; and a set of Archival Special Features, including a 2006 introduction to the movie by Blanc; The Whip and the Body retrospective; and Still Rising from the Grave, an interview with production designer Lorenzo Baraldi. For The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, there’s an introduction by Baraldi; an audio commentary with Alan Jones and Kim Newman; The Red Reign featurette; Life of Lulu, an interview with Sybil Danning; an alternative opening to the movie; both the Italian and English theatrical trailers; and another set of Archival Special Features, including the Dead à Porter featurette; Round Up the Usual Suspects!, an interview with Marino Mase; If I Met Emilio Miraglia Today..., with Mase again; and My Favorite... Films with Barbara Bouchet. There are also DVD copies of each movie, as well as a 60-page insert booklet with essays on the films by James Blackford, Kat Ellinger, Rachael Nisbet, and Leonard Jacobs.

If you’re a fan of giallos and you want to get absolutely stuffed on everything that the genre has to offer, then the Killer Dames boxed set is definitely something you want to invest in. Featuring terrific transfers with great extras, it’s a set worth checking out.

- Tim Salmons

 

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