George Romero and Dario Argento. Two names which conjure up images from the days of classic horror – zombies, blood, zombies, and some more blood and zombies.
And goodness, that’s what you expect to get from this one. The cover of this DVD is absolutely vile. Turns out that this is absolutely deliberate, as Arrow Video has acquired the rights to various 80s schlockfests and re-released the lot of them with new covers by Rick Melton of stunninglysavage.com. “Missing the days of crazy video rental artwork?” it screams on the back of a big poster included with the disc, “The art of cult films is back!”
Question is, is it worth the films themselves being back? Two Evil Eyes features two hour-long films based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe, namely The Facts In The Case Of Mr. Valdemar and The Black Cat.
Romero’s effort tells the story of Jessica Valdemar (Adrienne Barbeau), a woman who married an elderly man for his money and is now regretting it. She’s cheating on him, of course, and her psychiatrist lover Robert (Ramy Zada) suggests hypnotising her husband into giving her everything when he dies. Unfortunately, he chooses to die during the process, leaving his soul somewhere between ‘here’ and ‘over there’.
A further slightly ill-fated incident leads to the body having to be kept in a freezer in the basement, meaning that Jessica can’t get away from him on any level, and that’s when he starts talking to her.
Turns out he’s not the only dead person in the village, and all of them want back out into the physical realm.
Revealing any more of the story would ruin the ending, although anyone with two brain cells to rub together will have worked it out (I’ll give you a clue: this is a film by George Romero). However, you might not stick around that far, as this is not his finest hour. Playing out like a mediocre episode of Tales From The Crypt, it’s slow, largely uneventful and not particularly exciting when something does happen.
Some viewers might take something from Robert’s ‘death by metronome’ – there aren’t many films which can boast that one – but most will be reaching for the title menu button.
Argento’s is a very different affair. Harvey Keitel plays Rod Usher, a crime scene photographer whose days are spent creating still life work of a rather literal kind. When his girlfriend adopts a black cat which seems to hate him, his moods take a horrific turn for the worst and the crime scenes begin to appear in his own home.
The Black Cat is a much more solid film, with a considerably better screenplay and some excellent acting. While it has its moments, it’s not especially gory. Expect a discomfort of a rather different kind as Keitel’s character starts to turn on his wife and abuse animals.
The intricacies of Poe’s original story don’t quite come across on screen, but it’s a damn good effort, moments of which will stay with you for a while afterwards.
On the grounds that the disc has no extras and Romero’s contribution is negligible, I wouldn’t recommend a purchase unless you’re desperate to stick the horrible poster on your wall. It might, however, be worth tracking down on the cheap just to see what happens to the cat.
Two Evil Eyes is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.