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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Killer Dames: Two Gothic Chillers'
(Sybil Danning, Anthony Steffen, Marina Malfatti, Erika Blanc, Barbara Bouchet, et al / 4-Disc Blu ray+DVD / R / (1971-1972) 2016 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: At the height of the Italian giallo boom in the early 1970s, scores of filmmakers turned their hand to crafting their own unique takes on these lurid murder-mystery thrillers. This limited edition double pack features two distinctive offerings by Emilio P. Miraglia, which meld twisty whodunit narratives with gothic chills.

Blu-ray Verdict: In 'The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave' (1971), troubled aristocrat Alan Cunningham (Anthony Steffen, 'Django the B*stard'), haunted by the death of his first wife Evelyn, tries to move on by marrying the seductive Gladys (Marina Malfatti, 'All the Colours of the Dark'). Marital bliss is short-lived, however, as various relatives meet untimely and gruesome deaths, prompting speculation that a vengeful Evelyn has risen from the grave.

This creepy Italian thriller tells the story about a widowed lord who still suffers from the memory of the death of his red-haired wife Evelyn who betrayed him. So the aristocrat lures red-haired prostitutes into his castle to take revenge on his dead wife again and again: He whips them before he kills them!

But he's obviously not the only whacko in this film, because after he has found a new wife - a blonde woman this time - he seems to be getting better, but strange things happen and there's even a gloved killer who murders a couple of people in quite nasty ways.

This film from the director of the fine Giallo "La Dama Rossa Uccide Sette Volte" is a clever blending of gothic horror elements - a creepy castle, mysterious events taking place and an empty coffin that suggests that Evelyn indeed came out of her grave - and a typical Giallo story - gloved killer, nasty murders and some surprising twists during the climax. The only letdown is the slow paced start after such a great opening sequence, but the second half makes up for that in many ways. The film is not that gory, but there is one particularly gruesome scene when the killer batters a woman with a stone and then throws her into a fox cage. I mean, you actually see the foxes munch on her innards!

Meanwhile, in 'The Red Queen Kills Seven Times' (1972), an age-old family curse hits sisters Kitty (Barbara Bouchet, Milano Calibro) and Franziska (Marina Malfatti) following the death of their grandfather Tobias (Rudolf Schündler, 'The Exorcist', 'Suspiria'). Every hundred years, so the legend goes, the bloodthirsty Red Queen returns and claims seven fresh victims. Was Tobias just the first ... and are Kitty and Franziska next?

The actresses in this film definitely carried the ball over the goal line in memorable performances. They were helped by a script that allows them plenty of action that's very out of the ordinary but not too far out, because it reflects deep emotions and motives. This movie gives them plenty of room to all hang out. It's this that adds to the bizarre murders and adds to the entertainment value. The plot moves forward quickly, adding surprises at a rapid pace so that only with close attention can you figure out what might be going on. I give myself credit for figuring out some of it and for forecasting what would happen. The story starts with a kind of curse on a family, which is that every 100 years 1772-1872-1972 (the year of the movie's action), one sister will kill the other sister, the killer being in red. Bouchet is the blonde sister. She thinks that she has circumvented this curse because her brunette sister is dead, and she thinks she has done it. Needless to say, the situation is much more complex.

There is an inheritance, not to be revealed for a year and there are other siblings. Plus Bouchet is a photographer involved with a man who is in a fashion house management, and there is a cluster of people in that milieu, all of whom have motives for murder.

It's an enjoyable giallo with more than enough plot, characters and surprises to keep you guessing. The ladies are never afraid to flaunt their goodies, in various states of dress and undress. The music is catchy. The castle has a crypt. The women can be as vixenish as you can imagine. Quite a show! With both films making their worldwide Blu-ray debuts in stunning new 2K restorations, there has never been a better time to explore these little-seen giallo gems! These are both new High Definition Blu-rays (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Limited Edition box set (3000 copies) containing 'The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave' and 'The Red Queen Kills Seven Times'
Brand new 2K restorations of the films from the original camera negatives
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (lossless DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray Discs)
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
Limited Edition 60-page booklet containing new writing by James Blackford, Kat Ellinger, Leonard Jacobs and Rachael Nisbet

New audio commentary by Troy Howarth
Exclusive introduction by actress Erika Blanc
Writer Stephen Thrower on 'The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave'
'The Night Erika Came Out of the Grave' exclusive interview with Erika Blanc
The Whip and the Body archival interview with Erika Blanc
Still Rising from the Grave archival interview with production designer Lorenzo Baraldi
Original Italian and US theatrical trailers
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

New audio commentary by Alan Jones and Kim Newman
Writer Stephen Thrower on 'The Red Queen Kills Seven Times'
Archival introduction by production/costume designer Lorenzo Baraldi
Dead à Porter archival interview with Lorenzo Baraldi
Rounding Up the Usual Suspects archival interview with actor Marino Masé If I Met Emilio Miraglia Today archival featurette with Erika Blanc, Lorenzo Baraldi and Marino Masé
My Favourite... Films archival interview with actress Barbara Bouchet
Alternative opening
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx