Saturday, November 19, 2011

Queens of Evil (1970)

David, Ray Lovelock, is riding free with the wind in his hair and the beautiful ocean in the background. He is an eloper of society looking for freedom in a new world. What he ends up finding is more or less an exaggeration of what his free spirit has always desired in this rarely seen but marvelous film. 

Following the music-video-like intro-credits, night falls and a shot of the lead character riding down a pitch black foggy highway in the middle of nowhere gives off a dark and uneasy feeling as he stops to help a stranded older looking gentleman, Gianni Santuccio, with a flat tire. A conversation of conflicting beliefs ensues, and while still expressing appreciation for the help, this older man lights a cigar and takes no time to criticize David’s long hair, hippie clothes, and free-love ideals (Remind you of a similar moment with lovelock in THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE?), which are a strong contrast to the older man’s short grey hair, suit-and-tie, and enthusiasm for matrimony. 

Nonetheless, David holds onto his pride while the well kempt man, who hasn’t given his name (he’s known as L’uomo/Il diavolo on the IMDB which is Italian for Man/The Devil), attempts to provoke him to ‘betray his ideals’ by making suggestions that are a forecast to a very provocative situation that David later finds himself in. The old man’s drawn-out advice feels too premeditated to not raise the suspicion that he may’ve been planning on meeting David all along. It doesn’t help that he stuck a nail in David’s
motorcycle tire while he was working either.  




After finding the nail and being understandably annoyed, the Good Samaritan catches up to the old man and pulls alongside of him demanding an explanation, and eventually an accident results that seemingly kills the old man as he crashes into a tombstone while a creepy choir begins to sing that is reminiscent of THE BLIND DEAD theme song. 

If this was me, I’d feel pretty bad about what happened, but David’s reaction, while not totally heartless (he does attempt to stop other passers to no avail), seems pretty carefree as he places a flower into the deceased’s coat pocket before going along on his merry way. 

Later after making a detour into the woods, David stops to sleep in a storage shed next to an isolated house after assuming it to be empty. In the morning he’s startled and surprised to have the pleasure of meeting three captivating creatures living in the forest named Samantha, Bibiana, and Liv, played by Silvia Monti, Evelyn Stewart, and Haydée Politoff.




Like out of a dream, these three lovely young ladies happen to inhabit this cozy little country house that doesn’t seem very country on the inside but more modern and high fashion. Oddly enough, despite being entirely isolated they still have knowledge of all the latest fashions. 

David is seduced to stay awhile by their beauty as well as a high sugary carb breakfast consisting solely of huge cakes and coffee. Being that this is the first meal in the morning it gives me a stomachache just watching. 

It is the odd solitude that makes these three women so alluring to David whom he compares to a lone apple tree in the middle of the woods. Outwardly, this place is like his personal Utopia that has been waiting for him all along, where the women sympathize with his free-love philosophy, so it’s no wonder he decides to stay indefinitely despite the inherent fishiness of the whole situation. 


"If I'm faithful to one woman it would mean that I'm unfaithful to all the others, and what did all the others do to me that I should be unfaithful to them?"--David/Ray Lovelock 


Has David found the paradise that his free spirit was searching for all along? Has he died and gone to Heaven? Or is it really Hell? 

Given the title of this movie “QUEENS OF EVIL”, it should be pretty obvious that these ladies are not what they seem to be. The girls have a creepy habit of disappearing into thin air, practicing rituals in the woods, and conversing with a mysterious man-in-black in the middle of the night. Most amusing is that each of the three girls has their own egotistic shrine with a giant black and white glamor shot. (A possible precursor to Argento’s three mothers?) 

It seems that the primary objective is to get David to fall in love with each girl. While going through this, I constantly changed my mind as to which girl was my favorite, as the hippie has a particular love-episode with each one. Aside from a bit of teasing from Samantha riding around on David’s motorcycle before seducing him, the love scenes are surprisingly tender.




There is something very appealing about this movie that starts to hit me as it goes along and that is an undeniable fantasy feel. For instance, further in the woods there’s an opening where stands a castle that is under a spell that the girls seem connected to. Also, a terrific scene where Samantha offers David a cursed apple as well as the inclusion of harp laden theme music gives off the impression of being in a fairytale, particularly SNOW WHITE with a dash of LISA AND THE DEVIL for added flavor.


 

Later, David is invited to Liv’s party at the enchanted castle which happens to be full of aristocrats that all seem to be familiar with him. These partygoers are an embodiment of society and it almost starts to feel like it’s no mistake that David is here being assaulted with questions and undergoing what feels like an aggressive interrogation, as if they are trying to understand and study him. 

My interpretation is this: David is a threat to their ways. He has the potential to influence and there are others like him, so they attempt to trap and study him. David is an eloper of the society that they have created and set forth, and so it was necessary for him to be caught by being seduced into a false paradise, using Liv, Bibiana, and Samantha as bait. David was good and had ideas that could influence and direct the world from evil, and so evil seduced him in order to suppress the new ideas of his generation and stop his influence. David was a seed to a new and different way of life and dared to think unconventionally and so he needed to be contained and planted elsewhere where no one will notice the flowers of the new and beautiful world he could’ve brought. 




QUEENS OF EVIL is another great Italian horror film that escaped my radar for a long time. It is currently hard to find, but a proper release could help elevate it beyond its unjust obscure status. Restored DVD releases seem to work pretty well, as that’s what introduced me to the fantastic world of euro-horror that I never knew existed before, and QUEENS OF EVIL deserves to be noticed by more fans of this ilk.  They are out there.

Of additional note is that the theme song being played during David’s highway journey was performed by Lovelock himself. I was aware that Lovelock was a musician, but I didn’t take notice of his work until now because the song is not bad at all. 

Also, look forward to an awesome tripped-out dream sequence when David passes out in the woods during a thunderstorm. In the dream, he is taunted by his hosts who appear more in the guise of what they really are. The dream is an embodiment of what makes surreal erotic euro-horror so great. What that is specifically words cannot describe, you’ll just have to see it for yourself. 

Screen grabs are courtesy of DrMuga75 from Horror Cult Classics 





8 comments:

  1. This sounds interesting, so as well as it let itself in the translation by means of my online translator. Has looked in the German film data bank and it in amazement me once more not at all that also this film is one of many films which have not appeared in Germany. Typically!

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  2. WOW! A comment already! Hey Mr. Banane thanks for stopping by. I hope you are able to find a version that is right for you somewhere on line. I got ahold of a DVD-R print that is of pretty low quality, hence the reason I didn’t do my own screen grabs this time.

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  3. I have to track this one down. I had never heard of it, but it sounds great. I like your interpretation of why the evil ones want the guy.

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  4. I know it but I've never seen, I have induced to
    see it! Me too, as you read review, said the film of Grau.
    It's a strange feeling to see Lovelock in the current TV series prime-time! : D

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  5. @initforthekills: Thanks for letting me know, compliments do make my day. I didn’t develop that interpretation until the second time seeing this movie and I had already gone through 2 glasses of wine by that point. So it’s nice to know that it wasn’t just the wine talking ;).

    @occhio sulle espressioni: Hi Luigi, it’s always great to hear from you. I hope you find the time to check it out because I really do recommend it to other genre enthusiasts like yourself. Thanks for letting me know about Lovelock because I didn’t know he was still active since I haven’t been paying attention.

    @Nigel: Me too. It was the 2 write ups by you and Johnny on IFR that alerted me to this film, and for that I am grateful.

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  6. hey giovanni, i liked your blog, congrats!! (:

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  7. As always, great review. I will have to track this one down.

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