Tuesday, July 31, 2007


RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES (1972) As little girls, sisters Kitty and Evelyn learned from their grandfather about their family legend - that every 100 years one sister would murder six innocent people before finally killing the other sister. Now an adult, Kitty has become a popular photographer, while it is believed that Evelyn has disappeared to America and her third sister Franziska cares for grandfather. It is now the anniversary of the legend, and in the dead of a January night, a woman dressed as the Red Queen materializes from the shadows, and murders the grandfather. Everyone immediately suspects that it is Evelyn, but Kitty knows that is impossible, for Evelyn has been dead for months, accidentally killed by Kitty's hands.

When Kitty's boss becomes the next victim of the red-cloaked killer the suspects list opens up, including Martin, Kitty's lover and next in line to become head of the fashion corporation. More importantly, the covered-up death of Evelyn may be threatened, as both Evelyn's boyfriend has been desperately searching for her, and eyewitnesses to the murders have described the killer have features that resemble Evelyn. As the bodies start piling up, Kitty becomes frantic to figure out who is using her family's past to eliminate those around her before she finds herself on impaled on the vengeful killer's knife.

From director Emilio Miraglia, who is best known for his other mystery film, The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave (1971), this lesser-known, but wonderfully suspenseful Italian mystery-thriller (these are also referred to as giallo films) features all the necessary trademarks of the genre - brutally violent deaths, copious amounts of nudity, a swaying musical score and more red herrings than a fish market. The murder sequences in Red Queen are some of the more graphic examples in genre, including one that involves a wrought-iron spiked fence, and pushes the boundary of acceptable violence in 1970s Italy. Red Queen also adds some gothic imagery into its overall feel, which helps the film standout in comparison to its contemporary brethren.

Red Queen gives needed clues throughout the film, as well as offers several fake suspects to throw off the mystery film watching sleuth that will try to figure it out before the end. But as with many well-written giallo films, the story line here will have you guessing until the inevitable final scenes where the mastermind explains the entire scheme. Unfortunately, when everything is explained at the end, it brings in too many elements and is spoken far too quickly to fully comprehend. This is the movies greatest flaw, so viewing this on DVD will allow for the added benefit of rewinding and listening again to the explanation.

On a whole, this is a really good place to start for the introduction into the giallo genre, which has been receiving a well-deserved renaissance over the past few years on DVD here in America. Other easily accessible films to keep an eye out for include The Case of The Scorpions Tail, Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key and What Have You Done To Solange?


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