Queens Of Evil

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

Revision as of 21:07, 3 May 2013 by Narcan (talk | contribs)
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Queens Of Evil Italian Poster
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Also Known As

  • Le Regine (Italy)
  • Il Delitto Del Diavolo (Italy)
  • Les Sorcieres Du Lac (France)

Main Details

  • Released in 1970
  • Color
  • Running Time: 87 Min.
  • Production Co: Flavia Cinematografica (Italy), Carlton Film Export & Labrador Film (France)

Cast and Crew

  • Directed by Tonino Cervi
  • Written by Tonino Cervi, Benedetto Benedetti, Raoul Katz & Antonio Troisi
  • Produced by Raoul Katz
  • Starring Ray Lovelock, Haydee Politoff, Sylvia Monti, Evelyn Stewart, Gianni Santucco, Guido Alberti
  • Cinematography by Sergio D’Offizi
  • Original Music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino and Ray Lovelock
  • Film Editing by Mario Morra

Film Review

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Once upon a time . . . on a dark country road . . . motor bike riding hippie David finds a well-dressed gent whose car has a flat tire. Offering his assistance David sets to work only for the fruity old dude to chastise him for his long hair and accuse him, and his sort, of being irresponsible and promiscuous. To add injury to insult, while David’s back is turned, he sticks a nail in the front tyre of the Good Samaritan’s bike. Having fixed his own puncture David takes off in pursuit but shouting at the car only results in the driver losing control and crashing. David places a wild flower in the lapel of the dead man and on seeing a police car up ahead takes a detour along a side road and spends the night in a dusty shed near an apparently abandoned cottage.

In the morning David discovers the cottage is far from deserted when he is invited to breakfast by the three sisters who live there; Liv, Samantha and Bibianna. After stuffing his face with cake he thanks them for their hospitality but insists he must continue on his travels. However the allure of the three sexy sisters proves too much and he decides to endure their charming company a little longer. The forest surrounding their cottage is an enchanting realm apparently removed from the real world; there’s a castle nearby owned by a mysterious man who is seldom seen, a single apple tree from which David hungrily devours the fruit that Samantha picks and presents to him, and a lake from which the sisters matter-of-factly gather an abundance of fish.

Predictably David’s blossoming relationship with his hosts takes a sexual turn first of all with Samantha who rides off on his motorbike and challenges him to chase her. If this all sounds too good to be true then you’re quite right and the first indication that the twisted sisters are not as benign as they might seem comes when David stumbles upon Bibianna practising her amateur taxidermy on a squirrel. "I adore embalming animals", she tells him. “It’s like stopping life, stopping time . . . youth, beauty . . . forever’. And things just get weirder from there . . .

At the time of writing this review ‘Queens Of Evil’ remains a relatively obscure item; the film gained an X rating for cinema release here in the UK but following that its only domestic home video sighting was via a VHS release back in the early 1980s. Some movies are consigned to obscurity for good reason; on many an occasion have I read about a film that intrigued me and then spent ages trying to source a copy only to discover that it thoroughly deserved to remain unseen. ‘Queens of Evil’ is however an absolute gem that deserves to find a much wider audience. Fans of Jean Rollin’s dark oneiric fantasies and such marginal Euro-horror oddities as A Woman Possessed and ‘Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fey’ will no doubt find themselves swept up in its off kilter psychedelic fairy tale atmosphere. The cinematography is lush throughout, whether scenes are set in the half-light of the foreboding forest or in the glare of bright sunshine. The décor of the three sister’s cottage is pure pop art eye-candy; from the outside it looks like any traditional fairy-tale cottage but inside a kind of 70s sci-fi bohemia prevails. A tree grows up through the floor in the living/dining room and one wall is covered with enormous black and white photos of the women’s three striking faces. The sister’s costumes are freaky and fabulous, from hippie floral dresses to chic disco-witch hot pants, and topped off with some of the most humongous bird-nest style fright wigs you’ve ever seen!

The presence of Ray Lovelock as a motorcycle riding hippie chastised for the apparently loose morals of his generation will remind many viewers of the role he played in Jorge Grau’s excellent zombie shocker The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue. Lovelock gives a great freewheeling performance here and he’s perfectly cast as the dirty but decent hero. The actor wrote and performed two folk rock tunes on the soundtrack too. The character of David initially appears to have stumbled into an idealised male chauvinist fantasy; being served cake for breakfast by three gorgeous flirtatious females but the truth is quite the opposite. David’s free love philosophy and insistence that remaining faithful to one woman would involve being unfaithful to all the rest is as dated as the film’s fashions but he’s essentially a well-meaning kinda guy; his promotion of uninhibited personal indulgence however provides the means by which the three sisters exercise control over his ego. If viewers are in any doubt as to the extent of David’s emasculation a heady psychedelic dream sequence features Liv shooting him with a pistol which protrudes from between her thighs!

The three lead actresses are each in their own way alluring however collectively they provide a forebodingly aloof presence like a trio of cats playfully circling a wounded bird. Evelyn Stewart (aka Ida Galli) will of course be familiar to giallo fans from her appearances in Sergio Martino’s The Case of The Scorpions Tail and Umberto Lenzi’s ‘Knife Of Ice’ among others. Although the figures of three fateful sisters are a common motif in legends, fairy tales and folklore the film’s premise of one alpha male seduced and subsequently deconstructed by a trio of sexy but sinister siblings found a more recent manifestation in Italian horror cinema via Ruggero Deodato’s brilliant, but similarly underappreciated, 1993 film ‘The Washing Machine’. These two movies would in fact make an excellent grindhouse home cinema double bill.

While ‘Queens of Evil’s bloody climax is not exactly unexpected it is none the less shocking when it comes and a wry ironic coda brings proceedings to a satisfying close. Highly recommended; if you can lay your hands on a copy.

Reviewed by Narcan - 03 MAY 2013

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