Director – George A. Romero, Dario Argento
Cast – Adrienne Barbeau, Ramy Zada, Bingo O’Malley, Jeff Howell, E.G. Marshall, Harvey Keitel, Madeleine Potter, John Amos, Sally Kirkland, Kim Hunter, Holter Graham, Martin Balsam, Chuck Aber, Jonathan Adams, Tom Atkins
Release Year – 1990
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Two Evil Eyes is a film I have been wanting to see for a really long time, and thanks to Netflix I was finally given the opportunity to give this long-awaited(by me) flick a watch. Why the big deal over this one? Well, for the sole fact that this film comes in two segments, directed by two of my favorite directors: George A. Romero and Dario Argento. To make matters even better, this infamous directing duo did not disappoint, and provided a sweet film for fans of their films, as well as the great Edgar Allen Poe.
The film opens with George A. Romero’s segment, “The Facts About Mr. Valdemar”. In this tale a middle aged woman, Jessica Valdemar(Adrienne Barbeau; The Fog, Creepshow, Swamp Thing), schemes with her lover, Dr. Robert Hoffman, to have her very old, very sick, and very wealthy husband hand over his entire estate to her. The plan is for Dr. Hoffman to hypnotize Mr. Veldemar and have him sign all of the proper legal documents to hand his estate over to Jessica. The plan works, but before Dr. Hoffman can bring Mr. Valdemar “back” Mr. Valdemar dies, which brings new and deadly problems to what seemed to be a simple plan.
This segment was my favorite between the two films, and George A. Romero shows that even after Day of the Dead he still carried some directing excellence with him. We get perfect pacing in what is somewhat of a slow-moving film event-wise for the first half of the film, thanks much to Romero’s excellent direction and unique execution and camerawork. Romero just has his own way of doing things, and it always works well for my tastes. The horror in this watch is good, and while we do not get any overly scary scares we do get some fairly creepy scenes if you allow yourself to get enveloped into the film. As you would expect, this entry has to do with the dead that won’t stay dead(which Romero made famous with Night/Dawn/Day of the Dead), and as usually he expertly uses the undead in this flick, and with awesome live-action effects as well.
As far as story goes we get a very interesting and engaging adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s short story. I enjoyed the conspiracy element put on my our two lead characters, mainly because I enjoy seeing people who put together evil schemes suffer terrible consequences for their actions. The revenge element is high once things get going, and we all know I love me some revenge, especially when it comes at the hands of the undead. I really enjoyed the usage of Mr. Valdemar in this one, especially after he dies. We get some nice references to the afterlife, and not in the kindest or happiest of ways. There is a bit of “crossing over” that goes on regarding dark and evil forces, which only added to my pleasure with this film.
Next up is the final entry, Dario Argento’s “The Black Cat”, adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s short story by the same name. Poe’s famous story is no stranger to the horror genre, it was first debuted in the Vincent Price and Peter Cushing film The Black Cat, as well as Stuart Gordon’s “Masters of Horror” entry “The Black Cat” as well.
This entry stars Harvey Keitel(Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, From Dusk Till Dawn) as Roderick Usher, a cameraman experimenting with dark and captivating photos of the death, which he takes at local crime scenes. One day his wife, Annabel(Madeleine Potter), brings home a black cat she found on the streets, and quickly adopts it into their home. The cat has no liking for Roderick, and he feels the same way towards the cat. One day Roderick decides he has had enough of the cat, and decides to use it towards his photography, and kills the cat in a gruesome manner. Roderick feels his problems are over, but he has no idea the hell the black cat will bring him.
Dario Argento does a fantastic job bringing us his ever-awesome direction and camerawork, as well as the usual nonsensical tidbits he loves to throw into his films. His execution if well done, and it saves this film from its somewhat slow pacing at times thanks to the unique visuals and good tension we get throughout the film. There were some areas where I felt his direction could have been better, and that is where I feel that this film could have been a bit better, although it was still good overall. We get a fair amount of gore thrown in, although it is nothing compared to Argento’s earlier works. However, I will say that the kills are very reminiscent of his earlier stuff, which is sure to bring smiles to his fans.
Story-wise I enjoyed the film overall, but some slow and somewhat uninteresting parts are another reason I feel this entry is inferior to George A. Romero’s entry. The overall storyline follows Poe’s “The Black Cat” as far as the biggest elements of the story goes, but we get some scenes thrown in that I will not say were “bad” scenes, but scenes I just did not care for and felt were useless. We do get some little shout-outs to some of Poe’s other works, including one that involves infamous horror FX maestro Tom Savini, all of which I found pretty fun and a nice touch and shout out to the great writer that influenced H. P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker.
Overall, this is a positive and enjoyable watch that I recommend to fans of horror legends George A. Romero and Dario Argento. We get two cool stories based on some of Edgar Allen Poe’s greatest works, and along with them come good tension, great horror, and some nice kills for the fans.