Two Evil Eyes review by The Grim Ringler

Once upon a time George Romero and Dario Argento were horror icons to be reckoned with. Romero and Argento were two men with exceptional talents as filmmakers and storytellers and two of the most gifted horror icons of the seventies and eighties. With Two Evil Eyes both directors were finally paired together to bring another horror legend, this one from the literary side of the genre, to the screen yet again – Edgar Allen Poe. Each director was to film a story and together they would make a film, it was essentially an anthology film without, well, much anthology. The film proved a bomb though, both financially and artistically, and sadly marked a downward spiral that both directors have yet to fully pull themselves from (though Romero’s Bruiser and Aregento’s Stendahl Syndrome are both pretty good , neither has really done a lot since this film), but Two Evil Eyes has been re-released as a two-disc special edition from Blue Underground and we are finally able to give the films a second look to see if perhaps they were better than we first thought.

Romero’s contribution to Two Evil Eyes is entitled The Facts in the Case of Mister Valdemar and was based on the story of the same name. It finds Adrienne Barbeau (know best for her chest, sorry, it had to be said) as a conniving trophy wife out to rob her dying husband of his fortune. She is able to do this with the help of a handsome guy doctor that puts Valdemar under hypnosis and makes old Mr. V do their bidding – i.e. signing his fortune away. To their chagrin old MV kicks off before they can get their loot so they must hide the body away before anyone finds out. It turns out that MV died under hypnosis and now, while his body is dead, his spirit is quite the Chatty Kathy and is none to pleased to be dead. But the terror comes not from what MV will do to the scheming duo but what the ‘others’ that reside in the afterlife will do if they are able to use MV as a conduit into our world of the living. EEK!

Argento’s entry, entitled The Black Cat is much more to the point – Harvey Keitel – plays a Sadistic crime photographer who instantly seems to loathe the new black cat his lover brings home one day. He eventually manages to murder the cat, so it would seem, while taking pictures of himself torturing it for a book he is putting together. When his lover learns of this she prepares to leave him, unwilling to live with a man as sick as he seems to be, but never makes it out as Usher (Keitel) ends up murdering her in a rage and then hides her body in the wall so no one will know. But it seems that old Puss in Boots ain’t as dead as she seemed and Usher must now conceal the murder and find the cat before he is caught. The fun thing about this entry is that it’s kind of a Poe who’s who in which Argento packed the thing with as many references to other Poe stories as he could.

Of the two, I preferred the Romero entry. It’s kinda boring, but the tension really does build and the antagonists actually are portrayed as human, in that they do care that MV is not quite dead, and had not meant to do that to him. There are some cheesy moments, and the entire thing feels as if Romero wasn’t into the thing completely, but it has a great ending and is pretty darned good once it gets rolling. And there are some neat effects at the end. Good job Savini!

The Argento one is a bit harder to judge. It’s a beautifully shot film and is pure Argento through and through. But the fact is, well, his segment feels so nasty and sorta misogynistic and it bothered me to watch it. Which is odd. The movie is fun, and pretty darn gory, but it’s just hard to watch a character as nasty as Usher and get any ‘joy’ from it.

All in all, as a whole, the film is good, but severely flawed. I appreciate what they were trying to do, and it’s not a terrible film at all, but it just feels…as if they did it really quickly and with little cash. And it shows. And the stories aren’t as strong as you might hope. But that might lay with the fact that maybe Poe just ain’t that easy to adapt. It’s hard to adapt feeling and suspense from a book.

The extras are, I have to admit, pretty lame. I am glad that there even are extras because it’s a nice bonus, but there is nothing to really get excited about. They say the movie is longer, and it may be, but what there is isn’t that revelatory to be honest. Basically, if you want this movie, you have to want it for its own merits.

All told, Two Evil Eyes is pretty good. Not the best these two directors have done, but it is a decent movie and offers a fair amount of gore and a couple dark little twists. Far from the best these two wonderful directors have done, but the movie is worth seeing, if for no other reason than to catch up on your Horror 101.


7 out of 10 Jackasses

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