Monday, June 23, 2008

"The night Evelyn came out of the grave"

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
The poster for "The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave"

"Ooooow, my hair! Also, my neck."

This poster artwork is one of those iconic images that everyone remembers once they have seen it. And, like most great posters for a horror movie, the artwork is better then actual film. You can almost bank on it, that the better the poster, the less likely that the movie will be that good.

Having ogled this image as a kid in 1971 when it appeared in my local newspaper movie ads, I have always had it in the back of my mind as one I really wanted to see, especially as I became more aware of the cultish following it seemed to have. So when it was finally released on DVD recently, I jumped at it. I would have been better off jumping away from it. I didn't know it till later, but the film was a giallo. That's a genre I don't have much patience with, as in most cases all you get is some creepy atmosphere, but at the end you might as well have been watching an episode of Scooby-Doo. It's usually just a guy (or girl) in a fright mask. But if one really looked at the image on the poster, you would have known it. Her body's in good shape. Very good shape, actually.
(Higher resolution poster image.)

'The night Evelyn came out of the grave...
it was too dark to see it happen."

As I watched the film, I just got tired of waiting for Evelyn to come out of the grave; and when she finally sort of did, it was a letdown. Here's a good review of the film by an actual giallo fan, to save me the trouble of recapping the convoluted plot. Here's another review by someone less than enthusiastic about it; "resentful" would be a better word. Although the film has its merits, not the least of which are the negligee-clad beauties running around in it, my afore-mentioned impatience with it stems from that fact that when I have invested 80 minutes or so in a film waiting for the publicised horror to appear, it's a bit disappointing when the long-anticipated "boo," turns out to be a "tricked ya!"


"Boooo! I have risen from the gra-a-ave! You know, this
just isn't working. I can't see a thing in this getup."

If it had been marketed as a gothic mystery, rather than a horror movie, I wouldn't have gone into it expecting so much. The movie is more of a psychological thriller, and viewed with that in mind, the film is really not bad. Not as good as some of the fans of it would have you believe, and not as bad as others claim. Like most things, it turns out to be a matter of personal preference and taste. The score is actually quite good; here's a review of it.

But you can't say anything bad about the American poster. It's a real keeper. Hooray for misleading publicity! If it weren't for that, we might never have some of these awesome pieces of art. And that would be a real shame. Some of the best poster artwork came from the crappiest films. Maybe they realised that the poster had to be extra good to get people into the movie?


If anything, the spiffy German poster is even more misleading.

I know I may be unfair in judging some of the films I look at here, comparing them to their poster ads. Typically it's when I never saw the film as a youth, only the poster. The movie could seldom live up to the ads, and viewing them through the jaded eyes of a guy nearing 50, they are seen pretty realistically, and not through the rose-tinged glasses of memory; or even allowing for the time the film was made in. Everyone fondly recalls movies they saw as a kid, and everyone has their favorites, no matter what the movie actually is like. This one did not have that advantage, so apologies to those that hold this film in higher regard than I do, feel free to leave a review in the comments section.

The only interesting part of the film for me was the actual scene, late in the movie, where the dead Evelyn seems to actually rise from the grave. Competently filmed, and atmospherically creepy, it seems to deliver on the poster and premise, until the end of the scene, which ruins it for the horror fan expecting to see a risen corpse. I liken it to seeing a busty woman erotically and slo-o-o-wly removing a pendulously-swollen bra only to reveal it contains.... "taa-daaa!" ...nothing but padded falsies.

Yes, as the poster's tagline says, "The Worms Are Waiting!" They are waiting... in the bait bucket to go fishing. Sitting there on the bank watching the bobber float around would be much more interesting in my opinion... because then there's at least a chance your patience will be rewarded.

7 comments:

Karswell said...

I disagree, I think this is a very good, if somewhat typically dated giallo. Doesn't make it bad though. A greater poster indeed, but still...

Fred said...

Karswell,

Sorry if I stepped on any toes, but I have just revised the post before I read your comments, to the effect I may be too harsh on some, seeing them now after 40-off years!

Karswell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karswell said...

You know, if all films had to live up to their poster art (and I mean most pre-80's films) then there wouldn't be alot of good/great films out there, especially from our favorite genres of horror. Sci Fi is majorly guilty too though, I remember dying to see Astounding She Monster based on the poster, and then it turns ou to be the most worthless hunk of crap ever made. Or Terror from the Year 5,000. Amazing poster, terrible movie.

Nowadays, modern horror movies are just as bad as their posters.

Fred said...

Karswell,

Too true about modern day horror movie posters. The best poster I can remember recently was for "Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra" which was good precisely because it mimicked the old time posters!

As much as I like to affectionatly pick apart the oldies, I would really rather watch them than most of the new ones. I don't know how many times I have put on "Plan Nine" and watched it when other newer films sat on my shelf.

Absinthe said...

Even though it didn't live up to your expectations this film sounds perfect for me - I am now taking note and will try and track it down - I love giallo and also really love the Gothics and even still do enjoy watching scooby doo with the kids (even though I know they are going to pull off three masks from farmer John at the end) - so it sounds just perfect for my sick and twisted tendencies.

Fred said...

Absinthe,

You are right, if you like giallo from the start, you will probably enjoy the movie greatly. Glad this piqued your interest!

-Fred