Editor’s note: The hosts of Horror Movie Podcast are always impressed by the knowledge and insights of our listenership in the emails and voicemails that we receive, as well as in the comments here at HorrorMoviePodcast.com. This year we’ve asked several of our listeners to participate in our 31 Days of Halloween by contributing written reviews. This, the first such review, was submitted by a long-time listener and friend of the show who goes by the screen-name “Sal Roma” … You can follow Sal on Twitter @JTalley986 and on Letterboxd at @Sal_Roma.
Title: The Red Queen Kills Seven Times
Director: Emilio Miraglia
It’s said that one family, the Wildenbrücks, is eternally cursed with a sister killing the other once every hundred years as represented by a painting that has been in the family for generations. In the painting, the Black Queen kills her sister, the Red Queen. In death, the Red Queen returns to kill six innocent people, the seventh victim being the Black Queen. It is now 1972, one hundred years since the last killing. After a series of murders begins with the killer resembling the Red Queen, everyone begins to suspect Kitty Wildenbrück’s sister, Evelyn, to be behind the killings. What no one knows is that after a fight between the sisters, Kitty accidentally caused the death of Evelyn. Could Evelyn be committing the kills from beyond the grave or is it someone else in Kitty’s life? Kitty must learn the truth before the six innocent people are killed and the Red Queen turns her attention onto Kitty…
When it comes to the mystery of the killer, the kills are a highlight of the film. Similarly to Don’t Look Now, the color red plays such a big part of the movie with the killer wearing a red cape for every kill. It’s a little comical and over the top, but I loved the killer’s cackle that can be heard after every death. Although the killer does prefer to use a knife that can be seen in the original The Red Queen Kills Seven Times painting, we do get some variety though with a few other type of kills. Part of what held my interest in the kills was trying to carefully look at the face of the killer. Since Evelyn is supposed to be dead, I kept going back and forth on whether the killer has just modeled themselves after Evelyn or if a mask is being used. Then again, neither would have been correct if the film has a big plot twist at the end with Evelyn either still being alive or even a supernatural take with Evelyn’s ghost out for revenge.
Suspects wise, there’s only so many characters so unless there’s a twist with another character being introduced at the end, the viewer will likely be suspecting the killer from the start. I’m happy to say that I suspected a handful of characters at several points, so even though one of them was correct, I didn’t feel cheated for being able to correctly guess the killer since the killer wasn’t the only one I suspected. Admittedly, I’m not a gigantic fan of the reveal of the killer. Without giving anything away, the writers, Fabio Pittorru and Emilio Miraglia, do try to come up with a clever ending. Perhaps it’s a little too clever for its own good?
I’m not sure if it’s due to poor writing or a lackluster translation in the subtitles that appear on the Amazon Prime copy of the film, but I found some very basic things about The Red Queen Kills Seven Times to be either confusing or took me longer than it should have to understand something. The biggest example would be the family relation of Franziska. It’s clear early on that she’s related to the family and she’s a granddaughter of Grandfather Tobias, who is the one who originally told the story of The Red Queen Kills Seven Times painting to the sisters. Early on, I thought she was a sister, but with so much emphasis on Kitty and Evelyn being sisters, it seemed odd that Franziska would also be a sister. Then I thought perhaps Kitty and Franziska are cousins, but I still have my doubts. At no point in the film does it explicitly state how Franziska is related to Kitty and Evelyn. It’s frustrating. There’s plenty of other examples such as Peter being revealed as a drug dealer, as if it was always known despite only being told late in the film. With a better script or a clearer translation in the subtitles would allow me to focus better on the mystery of the film rather than spend unnecessary time on trying to figure out if a character is a sister or a cousin.
The attitudes towards sex and gender seems a little jarring to me with 2017 eyes. The movie makes no qualms about their desire to show bare breasts whenever there’s a chance. There’s even a bit of a comical moment where there’s a flashback shown where an object is supposed to be the focus of the flashback, but there’s literally a pair of boobs right there causing me to roll my eyes at the director trying to pretend the emphasis wasn’t supposed to be on the breasts. The main love interest for Kitty, Martin, from the very beginning is stated as actually being married to some poor woman that is going through some mental health problems and is currently staying at a mental hospital. Yet, Martin is supposed to be seen as the good guy and we’re to be rooting for the relationship between Kitty and Martin. Martin does a lot of shady things throughout the movie that are seemingly excused because he’s a guy in the 70’s and it’s allowed.
Overall, while The Red Queen Kills Seven Times doesn’t have the name recognition of an Argento or Bava film or the the fantastic mystery of What Have You Done to Solange?, I did enjoy myself watching it. I can’t say I was aware of the movie or its director, Emilio Miraglia, which adds to the fun of expanding my knowledge of giallos. At times, it’s a violent movie with a mystery that will keep you watching. I know it’s caused me to have some interest in checking out another Miraglia giallo, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, to see how it compares. The script is the only part that felt a little lacking to me. If you have Amazon Prime and you’re curious about seeing some lesser known Italian horror, give The Red Queen Kills Seven Times a watch.
7/10/ and to rent it.
– Sal Roma
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