MAY 5, 2011
The Tales Of Terror set has The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave (Italian: La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba), but I had avoided it due to the fact that it was a full frame version that ran 82 minutes, when I knew the movie was around 100 minutes and presented at 2.35:1 (though this seems to be a mistake as well, more on that later). In other words, it wouldn’t be fair or right to review the movie in such a mangled form. Luckily, Mill Creek has been getting a bit more respectable over the years, and so the Pure Terror set had what seemed to be a complete, letterboxed version.
Best I can tell, this version is as complete as they can get, as there are at least three different prints of the film being used to put it together; one that’s incredibly faded, one that’s severely under-exposed, and a fairly decent (for the Creek) one that luckily serves as the primary source. It’s still edited a bit, but it appears to be the result of a projectionist cutting out a few (not nearly all) of the nudity “highlights” for himself. There’s even a wonderfully “odd at home” moment where the reel switches and the framing is off, with the top of the image running at the bottom, and then after 10 seconds it slowly gets righted, as if the projectionist didn’t notice right away (a common problem with old prints during theatrical projections). It’s the type of thing I’ve seen a dozen times at the New Bev or Aero or whatever, but seeing it at home was kind of charming.
As for the aspect ratio (I’ll get to the movie eventually, I promise!), I think it might be intended to be 2.1. I looked at a few screengrabs from a new special edition, and while the image is obviously much sharper, I noticed that their framing (at 1.85:1) was missing some information that I was seeing on the left side of my copy. However, there was a bit more to see on the top and bottom of their frame, so either way you’d be missing some of the visual information. I doubt it ever matters (the actors’ headroom wasn’t noticeably being cut into), but worth noting if you, like me, are pointlessly obsessed with aspect ratios.
Anyway, the movie is pretty fun, though I was disappointed with the climax, where (spoiler) we find out that the supernatural/ghost elements are just the result of some scheming jerks. Yes, it’s yet another movie in which someone is purposely driven mad in order for their no-good lover to scam them out of their inheritance. There are two big differences to elevate it a bit above those others with regards to how much it annoyed me, however. One is that the sexes are reversed; usually it’s a woman being psychologically tormented, but here it’s an alpha male type, which I don’t think I’ve seen before, but even if I have, it’s far more likely that you’ll see a woman going through these motions than a man.
The other difference is sort of a “two wrongs make a right” affair. Not nearly as much as the inheritance plot, but I’m also annoyed at plots that require way too many things to happen exactly the way the mastermind hopes in order to work. However, when you find out that the guy was actually only pretending to go insane, and going along with the whole plan (which he knew about) just to expose the scam artists is so batshit stupid, it kind of got me back on board. Sort of like the movie Wild Things, where it goes back and forth between just plain stupid and flat out insane/amazing several times in the third act. I mean, why not go for broke – you’ve already probably pissed off all the horror fans in the audience who wanted ghosts and ended up with a girl in a skeleton costume.
But it’s pretty entertaining throughout, especially since it keeps switching gears. I’m almost tempted to watch that 82 minute version now – the movie is dangerously close to incoherent even in its complete form; without 20 minutes of footage it must seem like entirely different movies spliced together. For starters, our hero is actually a murderer; while there are a couple of kills we suspect him of that turn out to be the work of the scammers, there is no denying that he is the killer in the opening scene, taking home a hooker, whipping her for a bit (part of the sex), and then stabbing her. He then pays off his groundskeeper (also his former brother in law) 30 pounds not to say anything. Our hero!
He also has a thing for redheads, as his wife (Evelyn) had red hair and thus every one he sees reminds him of her. At one point he even yanks on the hair of a nice hooker to make sure she’s really a redhead, something that doesn’t stop her from coming back home with him, at which point the movie sort of starts over, as the next five minutes are pretty identical to the opening hooker scene, except this time she gets away. It’s actually a pretty good chase/stalk scene, and one of the few that actually allows me to feel comfortable considering this a horror.
Another would be the death of the psychic lady who keeps hanging around (actually she might be a family member, as she shows up for the main guy’s wedding), as the killer has black gloves and everything. It’s a pretty short scene, but it’s effective. Just one thing – the character has been in a wheelchair throughout the movie, yet right before she gets killed, she just casually gets out of the chair and walks around. They don’t make a moment out of it, not even a change in the musical score that would announce a major character revelation had just occurred – but it doesn’t matter because she dies seconds later and is never really mentioned again. But that’s just the sort of thing you come to expect in Italian horror movies; it’s not even the weirdest thing in the movie (that would be the fact that her body is fed to baby foxes).
I also like that the villain is double crossing his partner with another girl (what, you thought it was just as simple as a guy letting himself be scammed so he can scam the scammers? Utilizing baby foxes?), which results in a somewhat disturbing catfight where one woman (who is poisoned) stabs the shit out of the other, so they’re both sort of using their last breath to take the other one with them. Meanwhile, the villain just sits there calmly watching (well, when he’s not delivering more exposition), which is kind of harsh. You’d think he’d want to save at least ONE of them, but maybe he had another girl at the ready somewhere else.
So, obviously, perfectly enjoyable nonsense. Just make sure your copy is around 100 minutes!
What say you?