TWO EVIL EYES
Directed by George A. Romero & Dario Argento
Written by George A. Romero, Dario Argento & Franco Ferrini
Produced by Claudio Argento & Dario Argento
Cinematography by Peter Reniers & Giuseppe Maccari
Music by Pino Donaggio
Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, E.G. Marshall, Harvey Keitel, John Amos, Kim Hunter, Madeleine Potter, Martin Balsam, Ramy Zada, Sally Kirkland, Tom Atkins & Bingo O'Malley.
1990/120 mins/Color/DTS-ES 6.1
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/US/NTSC Region 0
Review from the Blue Underground DVD
Take two masters of horror from two different continents, and combine them with classic horror stories from Edgar Allan Poe, and you have the anthology duo TWO EVIL EYES. This double dose of terror tales directed by George Romero (the DEAD series, THE CRAZIES), and Dario Argento (TENEBRAE, SUSPIRIA), never did get the proper presentation they deserved. They didn't even receive official theatrical releases, but now, Blue Underground has released the authoritative version of TWO EVIL EYES, with this two disc 'Limited Edition' DVD.
Our first tale of terror come from Romero, titled 'The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar'. Jessica (Barbeau, THE FOG) is married to Ernest Valdemar (O'Malley, CREEPSHOW), a wealthy but elderly man, who has fallen ill, so she concocts a scheme with her former lover Dr. Robert Hoffman (Zada), to force Mr. Valdemar into signing away his fortune through controlled hypnosis. Throughout this process Valdemar dies, leaving the vindictive duet with a 3 week wait until the paperwork passes before they receive their money. So now they have a cadaver on their hands that will surely rot within that timeframe. There's only one thing to do, but put the deferred hubby in the basement freezer until time passes, but when noises come from below, and greed turns to desperation Jessica begins to lose control and Romero gets down to what he does best.
Argento's subsequent story centers on one of Poe's tales which has been adapted into cinema many times in the past -- 'The Black Cat'. Prior to this outing into a Poe adaptation of this classic, Lucio Fulci, and Luigi Cozzi had their sinister hands into this affair. This time around Argento enlists Harvey Keitel (BAD LIEUTENANT) as forensic photographer Roderick Usher. Rod returns home one day and finds that his wife Annabel (Potter) has befriended a stray black cat into their home, who doesn't take a liking to him. While working on a photography book of crime scene photos Rod decides to take some pictures of the cat, ending with its strangulation. Once Annabel gets a hint of what has happened, she wants out, concluding with Rod hacking her up in a drunken rage (including a nice hand laceration while she tries to protect her face from the knife). And like Poe's macabre tale, he seals up the evidence in a wall of his home... but where is that clawing coming from?
Much like other well known Horror anthology movies such as CREEPSHOW, and TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE these two have a sort of EC comic feel to them, especially with Romero's entry. The unique thing about TWO EVIL EYES is that it has two very distinct visions from each director. Without reading the credits of each short one could easily distinguish the director, even with only a small exposure to their works. Romero has the theme of the undead, and greed getting the best of people much like the idea of zombie's in a shopping centre (DAWN OF THE DEAD), while Argento has the whole mystique factor in his film, with the storyline following an animal which has been a theme throughout some of his films (BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, CAT O' NINE TAILS, THE).
'The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar' is the more solid of the two shorts. The slow pace creeps up on the viewer, building Romero's goal in creating suspense with a lot of genuinely creepy moments. The brooding shots down the winding staircase, into the basement as the camera pauses just at the edge of the freezer, with the viewer knowing what's inside truly creates tension. Some may consider the use of voiceovers for Valdemar's corpse to be cheesy, rather than the intent they had, to be eerie, but their effect came through to this viewer, if not completely, with some camp value.
Harvey Keitel stole the show in 'The Black Cat' with his performance of a somewhat drunken self acknowledged artist. Don't get too excited though ladies because you'll have to turn to something like BAD LIEUTENANT if you wanna see his Little Harvey. No sex scenes with Keitel here. Like many of Keitel's roles he has his standard freak outs, this time ending in murder, with the perfect opportunity for Savini to showcase some of his best makeup FX (as well as in Romero's film).
Both films inside TWO EVIL EYES reveal two talents of two tremendous contributors of the Horror genre today. Who knows, maybe these maestros of Horror have washed up in recent years, but with a collaborative anthology that is TWO EVIL EYES you can't go wrong.
BU presents TWO EVIL EYES as a 2-Disc Limited Edition preserving the films 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. The picture quality is virtually immaculate with rich colors and crisp blacks. There are three surround audio choices for all viewing budgets, a DTS-ES 6.1, Dolby Digital EX 5.1, and even Dolby Surround 2.0 all in English. Not that the film needs a stellar audio package like this, but the 6.1 and 5.1 do complement the soundtrack in the right parts. Hell the Dolby 2.0 track doesn't leave anything to be desired. Extras on the first disc include a 'Theatrical Trailer', a 'Poster & Still Gallery' with some cool promotional pictures and posters from around the globe, as well as 'Talent Bios' for Romero and Argento. The 'Bonus' disc contains far more interesting and extensive extras with a 30-minute featurette titled 'Two Masters' Eyes' containing interviews with Argento (subtitled in English), Romero, Tom Savini, Claudio Argento, and even Asia as a 14-year-old girl admiring her father and his work. This is a great little feature and you can tell both directors have great respect for one another's work. Did anyone know Argento loves buffalo wings (hehe)? Next up is an awesome 12-minute behind-the-scenes look at Savini's work titled 'Savini's EFX' where we hear some interesting stories like when they put an add in the paper for a stripper to do a full body cast of and Savini convinced her to let them do it with her completely nude. 'At Home with Tom Savini' is a 16-minute tour of Tom's house where he show's off his collection of masks, swords and oddities. Finally there contains a 5-minute interview with Adrienne Barbeau recorded but never used for the Romero documentary DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD. The cover art chosen by BU for this DVD far exceeds the less than perfect VHS artwork originally released. The disc also contains a nice reversible insert of chapter stops and on the other side the Spanish poster for the film. As it stands, four other version of the film have surfaced on DVD: the UK R0 DVD from Anchor Bay, the French R2 DVD from Columbia Tristar, the German R2 DVD from Laser Paradise, and the Japanese R2 DVD from Beam Entertainment. This Blue Underground release is your best choice due to the DTS track and the supplemental material.
This Film Features:
Review by Chris Mayo. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©
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