The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972) Review: Gothic ’70s Mashup
“The Corpse That Didn’t Want to Die!”
Synopsis: A family curse involves two sisters in a mysterious string of murders.
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Though Italian horror is not generally among my favorite subgenres, I rather enjoyed The Red Queen Kills Seven Times. Even with some bizarre (and distracting) production choices, it was still compellingly mysterious enough to bring me to the end without boredom.
Red Queen is part giallo, part Greek tragedy, and all mystery. As children, sisters Kitty and Eveline are warned by their grandfather Tobias (Rudolf Schündler) that there is a curse on their family, and the girls are destined to be entangled in a web of treachery and murder. In the year the curse is supposed to strike, their grandfather dies, bringing Kitty (Barbara Bouchet) back to the Wildenbrück estate for the first time in years. While Kitty and her niece Franziska (Marina Malfatti) struggle with Tobias’ death, others around them begin to die – and it all seems to be tied back to the missing Eveline.
It’s a solid story with twists and turns. Surprisingly, it manages even to rise above some rather odd choices by filmmaker Emilio Miraglia: the movie and actors are Italian, but the film itself is set in Germany, leading to some hopeless pronunciations; voices are poorly dubbed. Most daring, though, is the mashup of Gothic mystery with ’70s aesthetic. Don’t ask me how, but it works – Kitty’s career as a fashion photographer never seems wholly at odds with her visits to the Wildenbrück castle.
As with many gialli, none of the characters here are truly sympathetic, but Kitty is moreso than most. Her struggles to make sense of what’s happening to those around her are compelling, the final act when she braves the castle for answers and finds herself trapped is an excellent climax. Her terror is contagious in a way most movies fail to convey.
With its beautiful cinematography, creative cultural mashup, and intriguing mystery, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is a good choice for fans of Italian horror, and may even intrigue those who aren’t regular giallo fans.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B
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