It seems like centuries ago, but when I first caught wind of 1972's The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, I wanted to watch and review it immediately. It looked too rad to be real. Clearly, I wasn't able to see it that very second. There were false starts in profusion. Everything from disappearing auctions (yes, I tried to watch it the legit way, and it would have cost me a pretty penny) to torrents that contained corrupted files. I even had the 35mm reels in my possession, but my dog ate them! Okay, that's a lie. I just wanted to make this story a little more exciting. In any event, I finally had brunch with this damn film. You probably have a few questions. What was it that made me want to catch this urinary tract infection? And was it worth the maddening hunt?
Red Queen is a giallo directed and co-written by Emilio Miraglia, the gentleman who brought us 1971's The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave. I don't remember where I heard the title, but I was sold on the trailer. Fuck plot; the imagery alone vellicated the dorsal root ganglia in my nervous system. First of all, the red queen herself is one creepy squaw. She wears a red cape and a pale mask. The mask reminded me of Curtains, while the cape...motherfuck, if George Costanza taught the world anything, it's that you never trust a person in a cape. I'm not convinced that Estelle wasn't cheating on Frank. I mean, what kind of lawyer...oy vey, I need to stamp out this tangent. Forgive me. We'll compare Seinfeld notes some other time, you and I.
As little girls, sisters Kitty and Evelyn were told of The Red Queen and The Black Queen, sisters themselves. Red stabbed Black seven times. Every hundred years since this brutal slaying, Red appears (eerily dressed, of course) in the castle to claim seven lives, the same castle that Kitty inhabits with her grandfather. Where is Evelyn? Dead. And yet, (The) Red (Queen) has been spotted roving the hallways and cackling into the night. Is Evelyn's ghost pissed off? Is someone trying to mindfuck Kitty? Did I eat one too many cupcakes this morning? Valid questions. For the first hour, I was fixated on the screen. Red Queen was shaping up to be everything I wanted it to be. Atmospheric? Check. Unnerving? Check. Stylish? Check. Bloody? Check.
The first death sequence - discounting flashbacks - is irreproachable. I'm talking Bava-level, folks. There are oodles of shots that will stay with you like a pockmark on your soul. However, the final act (to be precise, the final 40 minutes) crumbles. The mystery angle gets bogged down by extraneous characters and a resolution that doesn't quite gel. I was hoping this flick would rise above stock giallo tendencies, but nope, the ending is a convoluted mess. I won't elaborate for fear of spoiling an obscure plum of a potlatch that you should definitely check out. Due to the killer's costume, it smells of cockeyed slasherdom. So that's sweet. I just wish it was as badass as it could have been. The dubbing isn't horrible, but I wouldn't mind subtitles. Sorry, random observation.
I went back and forth on the rating. I'm giving it four Z'Dars, but boy, that's tenuous. I'm erring on the side of affirmative willingness because The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is different. For the most part, this isn't your standard "black gloves" giallo. It never comes up in discussions of Italian horror imports. What's that all about, LUIGI?
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 7:22 AM