When it comes to writing about The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (a.k.a. La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba), what aspect of the film should receive the full force of my world class attention: A) The many pairs of colourful trousers worn by the male lead; B) The part where a handicapped woman is devoured by foxes; C) The catchy music score by Bruno Nicolai; or D) The fact that Anthony Steffen's character, "Lord Cunningham," has a thing for redheads and thigh-high leather boots? Don't you mean redheads in thigh-high leather boots? Isn't that what I just said? No, you made it sound like he has a thing for redheads and thigh-high leather boots separately. When it's obvious he likes them together. Meaning, he has a thing for redheads who wear thigh-high leather boots. Anyway, which is it? Which is what? Which aspect should I focus on, A, B, C, or D? Duh, squared! Go with D, man. Why are you pretending that you're going do otherwise? I don't know, I guess I just wanted to see you squirm a little bit. Well, I hope you know, you almost gave me a heart attack. I'm sorry about that. Just for the record, the protagonist's obsession with redheads in thigh-high leather boots was always going to be the centre of my attention. Hell, even before I sat down to watch the film, directed Emilio Miraglia, I knew the redheads in thigh-high leather boots angle was going to be the focal point of my interest. How did I know? Let's just say a little bird told me that the main character had a thing for redheads. But get this, the smallish bird-like creature said nothing about thigh-high leather boots. You know what that means? Exactly.
Actually, I have no idea what that means. Nevertheless, prepare to be bombarded by an unending concourse of creamy, unblemished thighs poking out from the tops of thigh-high leather boots. Truth be told, Emilio Miraglia is no Jess Franco. In other words, I thought the parts of the film that involved thigh-high leather boots could have been more perverted, more pornographic. Don't let that get you down, though. The film is still pretty sleazy.
Does the fact The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave opens with "Lord Cunningham," Alan, to his friends, trying to bust out of a mental asylum mean that everything that occurs throughout this film is only taking place within the overcrowded confines of his Thorazine-soaked brain? Wow, I never thought of that. It does explain the fact that half of what goes on in this film doesn't make a lick of sense.
At any rate, after the loony bin break out scene, which ends in failure, by the way, and the Bruno Nicolai scored opening credits have finished, we meet a more dapper-looking Alan as he's putting the finishing touches on a redheaded prostitute named Polly (Maria Teresa Tofano). What do I mean, "putting the finishing touches on"? Well, before Alan can seal the deal, as they say, he first must check to make sure Polly isn't wearing a wig. Instead of politely asking Polly if that is in fact her real hair, Alan simply pulls on it. Of course, Polly is none to pleased by this act of follicle grabbiness. Nevertheless, it's important to Alan that the women he's paying to have "sex" with him be genuine redheads.
Paying Polly two hundred quid (the film takes place in England) to come home with him, and three hundred extra to perform something "special," Alan takes her to his castle in the country. While the inside of the castle looks like a gothic nightmare, Alan insists that some of the rooms are habitable. And, boy, he wasn't kidding. Declaring it "marvelous" and "so chic," Polly is amazed when she enters this swinging bachelor pad straight out of a successful drug dealer's subconscious.
When Polly complains that she's got nothing sexy to wear, Alan flings open about four closets worth of lingerie; I dig this guy's style. If you liked that, you'll love his sadomasochism room. Remember that extra three hundred pounds I alluded to that involved Polly performing something "special"? Well, it turns out special means sadomasochism. With a record player already cued to play Bruno Nicolai music that is sado-friendly, Polly begins to dance for Alan, who is sitting on a throne. Grabbing a whip, Polly starts snapping the whip in a playful manner. Obviously growing tired of her antics, Alan instructs Polly to drop the whip and put those boots on. When Alan said this, I was like, yes! Put those thigh-high leather boots on, you redheaded harlot. Telling her "you're exciting with boots on," Alan is clearly a fan of redheads who wear thigh-high leather boots. You don't say? It's true, it's kind of his thing.
Is stabbing redheads in thigh-high leather boots kind of his thing, too? "Cause that's totally what he's doing right now. It should be noted that before anyone gets stabbed, Alan has a brief hallucinatory vision about Evelyn, his redheaded wife who apparently died not-so long ago.
Concerned for his health, Alan's doctor pal Dr. Timberlane (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) tries to get him to live a more active lifestyle. Having none of it, Alan, who is wearing a red trousers with a matching blazer, decides conduct a séance, complete with a crazed-looking woman named Miranda, in order to free himself from this nightmare existence. Attended by his cousin George (Enzo Tarascio), an unabashed swinger, and Aunt Agatha (Joan C. Davis), who seems to view wheelchairs the same way Guy Caballero does ("for respect!), the séance ends with Alan fainting.
The next morning, out near the fox pen, George, ever the enabler, tells Alan that he should go to London, as the city, according to him, is crawling with redheads.
Taking his advice, Alan goes to a London nightclub where Susie (Erika Blanc) is about to perform her burlesque show. Brought out in a coffin, Susie emerges wearing pink panties and lacy blue stockings. However, I don't think Alan was interested in her panties or her stockings. No, Alan is clearly drawn to the large (made even larger with the help of a scrunchie) mane of red hair that sits atop her gorgeous head.
As Erika gyrated to the groovy music, I thought to myself: Now this is what Eurosleaze is supposed to look like.
After the show, Alan has a drink with Susie. You know what's going to happen next. Right on schedule, Alan grabs at Susie's hair. It's real! You can forget about foreplay, as Alan whisks Susie straight to his sadomasochism room. Still wearing the pink panties she had on during her performance, Susie is told to put on a pair of thigh-high leather boots. I wonder if they're the same boots Polly had on during her stay in the sadomasochism room, or does he have a limitless supply of thigh-high leather boots. No, seriously, I wonder about these sort of things (it's a sickness). Whatever, Susie is zipping up the boots as we speak. Yeah, baby! Zip those boots up. Make sure they're on tight.
Realizing that he can't go on like this forever, Alan decides to take Dr. Timberlane's advice and try to find a woman, a non-redheaded woman, to settle down with. A woman who isn't a redhead?!? I know, it's pretty crazy. But apparently they're millions of non-redheads roaming around out there. Telling a woman he meets at a party that "there's something different about you," Alan is on the fast-track to matrimonial bliss.
Who's the lucky gal, you ask? Her name is Gladys (Marina Malfatti), she's blonde and she's fabulous. A fabulous blonde, eh? I don't know, this sounds like it could end badly. I mean, a non-redhead who's fabulous to boot? Sounds a little far-fetched, if you ask me.
Returning to his newly refurbished castle a married man, Alan introduces his new blonde bride to Aunt Agatha and the castle's maid staff. You'll notice that all the maids are wearing blonde afro wigs. The reason for the blonde wigs, I can only guess, is to placate Alan's obsession with redheads. Either way, the sight of five maids all in blonde afro wigs is one of the film's more memorable images.
Given Alan's shaky track record with women, how long do you think before he starts demanding that his wife dye her hair red? I give him five days. Actually, Alan's not the one everyone should be worried about. No, there's something else going on here. And judging by what I've seen so far, I bet it's going to be convoluted and weird.
What I liked about The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is how it makes Alan's fixation with redheads seem reasonable. In fact, I noticed that I was starting feel the same way as the film progressed. The sight of Lisa de Leeuw in black suspender hose was like catnip to me after I watched this film. It's not often that you see films where the lead character has a fetish or preference for something that's got nothing to do with sports or food. And, for that, I appreciated the effort the makers of this film made to shine a little light on people whose interests are not typical.