Two Evil Eyes on DVD

Monday, 10 May 2010 07:49

 “Two Evil Eyes” is a remake of 1962’s “Tales of Terror”, a horror anthology featuring several bone-chilling stories from the pen of Edgar Allan Poe, renowned Nineteenth Century American author of the macabre. This 1990 version comprises two hour-long tales of the supernatural, murder and suspense, directed by genre masters George A. Romero and Dario Argento.

First up is Romero’s “The Facts In The Case Of Mr. Valdemar”, a yarn which intelligently embellishes upon Poe’s very slight premise of death and mesmerism. Part two is Argento’s “The Black Cat”, a tale which is sure to have animal lovers cowering behind the sofa in abject horror, and is much closer to the original, distressing source material.

Two Evil Eyes on DVD“Valdemar” concerns the misfortunes of a greedy, cheating trophy-bride whose loaded, elderly husband Ernest (Bingo O’Malley – “Creepshow”, The Kill Point) teeters at Death’s door. Adrienne Barbeau (of John Carpenter’s “The Fog” and “Escape From New York” fame) plays the wife, Jessica. She colludes with her lover, Robert (Ramy Zada – Dallas, Melrose Place), who also happens to be Valdemar’s doctor and a master hypnotist, a skill that comes in very handy when you want a dying man to sign over his assets before his time runs out!

Unfortunately for our deceitful duo, Valdemar expires before all of the financial paperwork has gone through, forcing them into an increasingly desperate scheme where they have to pretend the old man is still alive. If the stresses and strains on their relationship were not already enough, they start hearing Valdemar’s agonized voice from beyond the grave (or rather the freezer, where they have unceremoniously stowed him).

Romero’s segment of this film has a solid if slightly old-hat and stagey feel to it. The story is certainly intriguing and has a few spooky twists, but the direction is a bit heavy-handed. Audiences do not always need to witness thunderstorms and lightning to understand that scary events are afoot. Having said that, Barbeau and co are dependable and perfectly capture the three-way triangle of conniving bitterness and suspicion. There is a persistent undertone of dread that gets under your skin, and the slow build up is paid off with a shocking and quite bizarre finale.

Part two’s “The Black Cat” features a typically overpowering, aggressive acting display from Harvey Keitel (“Reservoir Dogs”, “The Piano”) as Roderick, a forensic photographer with a serious hatred of felines. When his wife Annabel (Madeleine Potter – State Of Play) takes in the titular stray moggy, Rod wastes little time in strangling it.

Annabel suspects he has been up to no good, and after a vicious fight their relationship quickly deteriorates. Meanwhile, Rod is convinced the cat has come back from the grave and is haunting him, driving him insane. Before she can escape their doomed partnership, he murders Annabel in a fit of rage, and then conceals her body behind a hastily-plastered fake wall. Just when he thinks he has got away with it, that damn cat resurfaces and threatens to expose his bloody actions.

Keitel does his best to make segment two succeed, and he is certainly compelling as the brutal, scarily unhinged Rod. Unfortunately, all of the other human characters in the story seem weak and thinly drawn-out by comparison. The black cat is quite convincingly directed, though there are moments when it looks more loveable than on the verge of an attack, and on the few occasions when animatronic felines are used instead of a live animal, the film’s credibility starts to plummet.

“The Black Cat” is definitely the weaker of the two segments, but the hour-long duration of each part helps to keep their respective plots moving swiftly along. Between them there are enough jump shocks, moments of gore, murder and ghoulish poetic justice to satisfy most genre fans, making this release worth considering for rental if not retail purposes.

“Two Evil Eyes” (1990) is out now on DVD, courtesy of Arrow Video. Aside from the film, the only extras on the disc are some trailers, though on the plus side the packaging does include a reversible sleeve, a poster and an eight-page booklet dedicated to the film. The main feature is 120 minutes approx, certificate ‘18’ and retails for £15.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com.

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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