La dama rossa uccide sette volte [The Red Queen Kills Seven Times] (1972) July 20, 2020 17:00
When it comes to giallo films there's a handful of titles that stand out as the most notable and recognizable in the genre, La dama rossa uccide sette volte (aka The Red Queen Kills Seven Times) is one of those films. While it may not break the mold it's a solid example of a well crafted Italian thriller that checks all the boxes.
The story focuses on the legend of the Wildenbrück castle curse and the torrid relationship of two sisters known as The Red and Black Queen. It began with one sibling (The Red Queen) continually harassing her sister (The Black Queen) when they were children, when they became older The Black Queen obtained her revenge by murdering The Red Queen. Soon after The Red Queen rose from the dead and murdered a total of seven people, the seventh victim being her sister The Black Queen. This was the first instance of the "curse" which would reoccur every one hundred years with a new pair of sisters who grew up in the castle.
This story is passed down at the beginning of the film to a young Kitty and Evelyn Wildenbrück by their wheelchair bound grandfather after Evelyn steals her sister's doll and proceeds to stab it repeatedly. Jump to present time when the girls have grown up and we learn of Evelyn's "disappearance" following a sighting of The Red Queen of the grounds of the castle after Kitty's grandfather is found dead. It's revealed that Kitty (Barbara Bouchet) and her other sister Franziska (Marina Malfatti) have been hiding a secret, while they've been telling people Evelyn moved to America the truth is Evelyn is dead, her body decaying in the basement of the castle. With their grandfather being the first victim of The Red Queen, tensions begin to rise that the legend is true and Evelyn has risen from the grave to claim her revenge!
The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is the quintessential 1970's giallo experience that has a balanced mixture of everything you've come to expect from the genre without it going off the rails, a killer soundtrack, thrills, blood and beauties. While the film may not break the mold like some entries (The Bloodstained Lawn) it nails the basics and gives viewers a solid Italian thriller experience. Great performances from "Queen of Deep Cleavage" Marina Malfatti who flawlessly nails that cold personalty character she's so good at portraying. Along side a rare Italian film appearance from a young Austrian knockout Sybil Danning who lends the film most of it's sex appeal. It's a shame Danning went to the US and started making awful American B-movies because she was better suited for Italian films.
As for Barbara Bouchet she's finally back in a lead role and handles it magnificently as the tortured sister waiting to be the final victim of The Red Queen. She nails the terrified reaction over and over again, and it was nice to see her play a slightly different character than she normally does.
Overall there's nothing overly critical that can be said out about The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, if you're a fan of the more over-the-top giallos it may come off as a little tamer, but it terms of the quality of the production, acting and story it's hard to argue that's it's not among the top. I found myself enjoying it more this second time around than I did when I first watched it ten years ago. Ultimately there's something for everyone here so if you're watching it for a particular actor or simply a fan of the genre I think you'll be happy either way.