Thursday, July 21, 2011

#349. Two Evil Eyes (1990)

Directed By: George Romero, Dario Argento

Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Harvey Keitel, Ramy Zada

Tag line: "When I Wake You...You'll Be Dead"

Trivia:  Dario Argento originally wanted the film to be a collaboration between four directors: himself, George A. Romero, John Carpenter and Wes Craven

Talk about a pedigree! Just look at some of the big names associated with Two Evil Eyes. For starters, it was directed by not one, but two legends of horror, George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and Dario Argento (Suspiria), each directing a short film based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. As for stars, how do Harvey Keitel, Adrienne Barbeau, Martin Balsam, and even The Fog's Tom Atkins sound? Finally, for the icing on the cake: all special make-up effects were handled by none other than Tom Savini (Friday the 13th). With this many talented people involved in its production, Two Evil Eyes just had to be something special.

I know...I know...this is the part where you're expecting either a “however” or an “unfortunately”, right? Well, you won't find one. The truth is, I did enjoy Two Evil Eyes, a film that pulled off a minor miracle: it actually lived up to its own potential.

Split down the middle, with each director tackling one section, Two Evil Eyes kicks off with Romero's take on Poe's The Facts In The Case of Mr. Valdemar. Valdemar (Bingo O’Malley), a wealthy old man, is dying, and his much younger wife, Jessica (Adrienne Barbeau), teams with her husband's doctor (and her lover), Robert Hoffman (Ramy Zada), to gather up as much of Valdemar's money as they can before he kicks the bucket. To move things along, Hoffman hypnotizes Valdemar, and, by the power of suggestion, gets him to sign a large portion of his estate over to his conniving wife. But when Valdemar dies while still under hypnosis, his consciousness is trapped between this world and the next, unable to fully exist in either one. Argento's The Black Cat is the story of a crime scene photographer named Rod Usher (Harvey Keitel) whose girlfriend, Anabelle (Madeleine Potter), brings home a stray black cat, which she immediately falls in love with. But Rod and the cat don't exactly get along, so, while Anabelle is away, Rod strangles the cat and immediately disposes of its body. Sensing he's killed her new pet, Anabelle makes plans to leave Rod and move to New York, once again pushing her unhinged boyfriend to the brink of insanity.

Two Evil Eyes presents a pair of very different, yet equally engaging tales of the macabre. With The Facts In The Case of Mr. Valdemar, Romero is back in “living dead” territory, only this time he's dealing with a corpse that's very much aware of its own situation. The chills begin to creep up the spine the moment we hear Valdemar's agonizing moans emanating from the basement (which is where his wife and doctor have stored his body), and while the bloodshed is kept to a minimum, the look of the undead Valdemar (thank you, Tom Savini) more than makes up for it. Where Romero's tale shied away from gore, Argento's embraces it, kicking off The Black Cat by showing us the body of a naked woman, sliced in half by, of all things, a pendulum with a blade on the end of it. Argento's film is, without question, the more stylish of the two, in both structure (there are moments when we get a “cat's-eye” view of the action, with the camera scampering around on the ground) and story (such as the elaborate dream sequence that takes place in Medieval times), marking a definite shift in the film's overall tone.

Two Evil Eyes is a rarity, a collaboration of ultra-talented individuals that actually surpasses even your loftiest expectations.


Anonymous said...

Never ever heard of this Dr. You certainly have me curious, it sounds like a keeper. To use the Horror Jungle metaphor I will grab it.

Brilliant work on the podcast and website.


Dave Becker said...

@Klineberg: Thanks for stopping by!

I missed this one as well when it was released, but was very happy to catch it now. Please be sure to stop back and let me know what you think of it!

Thanks for the compliment! I'm glad you like the podcast, and I do appreciate you stopping by the blog.

Thanks again, and have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr Shock I amost preorder "We are what we are" but then remember you cover it next. It expensave will be wating on that. I be listen in. Germany Gratus

Dave Becker said...

@Gratus: Thanks for stopping by!

Yes, we will be covering WE ARE WHAT WE ARE on the next episode. In fact, we'll be recording that ep. very shortly!

Hopefully, we'll steer you in the right direction.

Thanks again for the comment, and for listening to Horror Jungle.

Anonymous said...

waiting on the next episode doctor shock.....

bring it to us!

Dave Becker said...

Hello, and thanks for stopping by

Episode #3 has been recorded, and will be coming your way in 3 short days! We appreciate your enthusiasm, and please be sure to stop back after listening and let us know what you thought of it.

Thanks also for listening to Horror Jungle.

Anonymous said...

#1 (nice intro and new hosts)
#2 (great debates fun ride)
#3 (can't wait!)

very impressive horror podcast!

howard k. hahn

Dave Becker said...

@Howard: We appreciate the feedback on each of the first two episodes. and we're glad you enjoyed them!

Episode #3 has been recorded, and will be available in 3 days time. We hope you like it as much as the 1st two.

Thanks again for the kind words, and for listening to Horror Jungle.

Lady Phantom said...

Ooooooooooh, this sound great, Doctor!! I hope I can get my hands on it!

Lady Phantom

Dave Becker said...

Hello Lady! How are you?

Yes, I definitely think you would like this movie. If you can find a copy, check it out!

How's the baby doing?

$nake said...

Great movie(s). Argents, Romero, Keitel and Barbeau all in one horrific package. Thanks for reminding me. Gonna head down to the basement to pull out my old bootleg vhs. Great review.

Dave B. said...

Snake: Thanks for stopping by!

Glad to remind you of such an entertaining film, and I hope you're able to locate that tape!

Enjoy the movie, and thanks again.