Actress Barbara Bouchet appears in this confused giallo from Emilio P. Miraglia

Arrow Video continues their mining of forgotten giallo films with The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, a second-rate but mildly distinctive effort by director Emilio P. Miraglia. Paired with The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave in Arrow Video’s Killer Dames limited-edition box set, it’s easily the less satisfying giallo of the pair. For a genre that revels in its masked killers and flashy visuals, this entry is a fairly joyless exercise with unsympathetic characters.

The 1972 film features a whodunit narrative messily complicated even by giallo standards and a sub-par performance by its lead actress, Barbara Bouchet. Probably the most notable thing about this disposable giallo is a memorable appearance by Sybil Danning, an actress that would go on to have a long career in b-movies across the ’70s and ’80s such as The Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf.

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times attempts to marry Gothic themes with the standard giallo formula, hoping to duplicate the success of Miraglia’s own The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave the year before. Two young sisters are told a legend about their ancestors by their grandfather, one that appears to be coming true years later. Every one hundred years in this family, one sister called the Red Queen will be killed by her sister called the Black Queen, only for the Red Queen to return from the grave and kill seven victims, including the Black Queen herself. Bolstered by a creepy painting the grandfather keeps on display in his castle, the sisters come to believe in this story’s truth.

Kitty (Barbara Bouchet) is the Black Queen in this case. She accidentally killed her sister Eveline, the presumed Red Queen, and now stands to inherit the vast sum of her grandfather’s estate. Where this movie gets confused in its storytelling is the introduction of a completely different sister, Franziska (Marina Malfatti). Somewhere along the way, Miraglia forgets to place a scene giving us Franziska’s relationship to Kitty and Eveline. For much of the movie, I actually believed she was Kitty’s mother. The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is far easier to understand and enjoy knowing that bit of knowledge.

… it lacks the refinement or off-kilter madness of better giallo films.

Knowing that Eveline is dead, Kitty is bewildered by reports that a woman dressed as the Red Queen is killing the people around her. Miraglia’s narrative loves throwing a dense maze of red herrings and false clues as to the Red Queen’s true identity. The police suspect it may be Kitty’s lover, her married boss Martin. A truly sleazy character that is carrying on an affair at work while his mentally insane wife is locked away, it’s telling that Martin may be the most sympathetic character in the film. Everyone else seems to have an agenda, mostly concerning Kitty’s impending inheritance.

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is a sloppy, seemingly rushed giallo that gets by on an air of mystery. The problem is its antagonist, the Red Queen, shows up in the least frightening manner possible. Lacking a signature visual motif besides the shamelessly hokey Red Queen running around in a red cape and finishing off victims in some of the least impressive murder sequences of the Seventies, it lacks the refinement or off-kilter madness of better giallo films. Even devoted giallo enthusiasts will likely grow bored with the central mystery, which is fairly easy to see coming long before its hectic conclusion. An impressive and elaborate sequence in the finale with a flooding castle chamber can’t make up for its prior sins. This is spotty filmmaking with a few enjoyable moments.

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times Blu-ray screen shot 11

Video

This is the second movie found in Arrow Video’s Killer Dames box set, a second-rate giallo that offers a weaker presentation than its companion in the set, The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave. Receiving a new transfer struck from the camera negative, the 2K scan replicates the fairly limited, Techniscope film elements. This is soft video with unfiltered grain. The color saturation is flat and dull for a giallo filled with bloody murders.

Arrow Video does give it a perfect technical presentation, featuring an immaculate AVC video encode that superbly handles the gritty film texture. This is adequate definition in a serviceable transfer, but the rather pedestrian cinematography limits its wow factor. I’ve seen better transfers of vintage Italian movies but the 1972 movie receives a faithful presentation from decent elements. Blame the picture quality’s limitations on the movie’s seemingly cheap production.

The main feature runs 99 minutes, allowing one to choose between seeing the Italian or English opening credits. Filmed in a variant of raw Techniscope, The Red Queen is shown at its proper 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It is included on a BD-50 by itself in the set.

Audio

A word of advice when choosing between the English and Italian dubs: I found the English dub to be far more professional in terms of voice acting. It’s a far cry from the somewhat sloppy and amateurish Italian dub. Both dubs come in similar sounding 1.0 DTS-HD MA soundtracks. These are not high-fidelity recordings. Dialogue is badly mixed with the much louder Bruno Nicolai score, a fairly weak effort this time around from the master composer. This is serviceable audio with issues in volume.

The newly translated, optional English subtitles intended for the Italian soundtrack are not recommended. If you must listen to the Italian soundtrack, turn on the English dubtitles meant for the English soundtrack. It has a far more complex translation that seems to capture the plot better. They both display in a white font, remaining inside the scope framing at all times.

Extras

Arrow Video puts out this giallo as part of the Killer Dames: Two Gothic Chillers by Emilio P. Miraglia box in a limited-edition set of 3000 units. This is their typically handsome, well-researched effort with new special features and a wealth of archival featurettes. The Sybil Danning interview found here is fascinating, she was once a big player in b-movies. The Blu-rays are coded for Regions A and B, while also including both films on DVD as well.

  • New audio commentary by Alan Jones and Kim Newman – A friendly chat between knowledgeable giallo fans but this commentary peters out by its end.
  • Life of Lulu (19:47 in HD) – Exclusive new interview with Sybil Danning about her early film career.
  • The Red Reign (13:48 in HD) – An engaging featurette with critic Stephen Thrower covering this movie’s major themes and context.
  • Movie Intro (00:38 in SD) – Archival introduction by production/costume designer Lorenzo Baraldi
  • Dead à Porter (13:38 in SD) – archival interview with Lorenzo Baraldi
  • Rounding Up the Usual Suspects (18:24 in SD) – archival interview with actor Marino Masé
  • If I Met Emilio Miraglia Today (04:14 in SD) – archival featurette with Erika Blanc, Lorenzo Baraldi and Marino Masé
  • My Favourite… Films (00:59 in SD) – archival interview with actress Barbara Bouchet
  • Alternative opening
  • Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
  • Limited Edition 60-page booklet containing new writing by James Blackford, Kat Ellinger, Leonard Jacobs and Rachael Nisbet

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review as a pre-production screener. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Summary

A disappointing giallo from Emilio P. Miraglia despite a memorable appearance by the seductive Sybil Danning in an early role.

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