CANNON MONTH 2: Blood Feast (1975)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This isn’t the Herschell Gordon Lewis movie. No, instead the Dewey-Friedland Cannon released The Red Queen Kills Seven Times under this title. This originally appeared on the site on August 24, 2017.

Emilio P. Miraglia followed up The Night Evelyn Came Out of Her Grave with this giallo freakout — starring the magnificent Barbara Bouchet (Don’t Torture a Duckling) — that combines gothic horror with the high fashion we’ve come to expect from early 70’s Italian horror.

A curse haunts the Wildenbrück family once every 100 years — two sisters have always become the Red and Black Queen, feuding until one of them dies. Then, the survivor is haunted by sixth deaths, with the final death — the seventh death, referenced in the title, being the surviving sister. Kitty (Bouchet) and Evelyn are the next two sisters to be so cursed, battling even in childhood, stabbing each other’s dolls with daggers.

These catfights have continued for years, ending when Kitty, now a fashion designer, accidentally takes it too far when she battles Evelyn. Third sister Franziska (Marina Malfatti, The Night Evelyn Came Out of Her GraveAll the Colors of the Dark) and her husband hide Evelyn’s body while Kitty pretends that her sister has gone to America.

All is well and good until the Red Queen rises, wearing a red cape and white mask, killing all of Kitty’s co-workers at Springes Fashions with the same dagger that was once used to slice up baby dolls. But is it really Evelyn, back from the dead (Emilio P. Miraglia sure liked Evelyn’s that rose from the dead)? Or something much more down to earth?

Miraglia only directed six films, with this being his last one. There are some moments in here that aspire toward art, like the Red Queen chasing Kitty through her dreams, ending in a long hallway run and her superimposed form attacking like a ghost. And the film flirts between the gothic castle era of Italian horror and the fashionista giallo look — all while containing plenty of deep red gore and plenty of skin, courtesy of a 20-year-old Sybil Danning (Howling II, Battle Beyond the Stars, Young Lady Chatterley 2). It’s not always art, but sometimes, it totally is. There are the requisite twists and turns of the genre, along with some really regrettable moments — like when a character goes from rapist to rescuer across two scenes and an ending where the hero and heroine both need saving.

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