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DVD Review

DVD cover

Two Evil Eyes


Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Bingo O'Malley, E.G.Marshall, Harvey Keitel, Sally Kirkland, Martin Balsam and Julie Benz
Arrow Video
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 18
Available 10 May 2010

Two of horror's most prolific directors come together for Two Evil Eyes. The film incorporates two separate adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories.

In The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, the wife of a rich but gravely ill man, persuades her doctor/psychiatrist to hypnotise him into signing his wealth other to her upon his death. Unfortunately, he dies before the paperwork has gone through, so the scheming couple hide his body in the freezer. However, Valdemar has died whilst still under hypnosis, and finds himself in a limbo between worlds, where the 'others' are using him as a conduit to our world. Retribution is about to materialise in the most unexpected manner.

As a long-time horror fiction enthusiast, I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I know both of these stories well (in fact, I have the complete works of Poe). This adaptation, directed by The Night of the Living Dead's George A. Romero, is highly entertaining and will appeal to lovers of ghost stories as well as Columbo-like murder/intrigue. Make-up effects are expertly handled by Tom Savini, who has made his name on a number of notable horror movies. And just a word or two about ex-Mrs John Carpenter Adrienne Barbeau, who I haven't seen in too many movies, but each time I have she's presented herself as a talented character actress. She was outstanding in the Carpenter films, The Fog, Escape From New York, and Someone's Watching Me, and she's utterly convincing here too.

In The Black Cat, directed by Dario Argento (Demons, Tenebre, Suspiria, and many others), follows the story of forensic photographer Roderick Usher (played by Harvey Keitel), who sells pictures of death as artwork. When his wife Annabel brings in a stray cat it takes an instant dislike to him and builds a ridge between him and his wife. After he strangles it for his photography, the cat shows up again and causes his life to take a downward spiral, culminating in him killing his wife when she tries to leave him. He attempts to cover up the murder, but the cat remains the bane of his life.

There have been a number of adaptations of this Poe short story, most notably the rather strange Legosi and Karloff version, and the better known Roger Corman film, Tales of Terror. But probably the best example I've seen is the Stuart Gordon one, made as part of Season 2 of the Masters of Horror anthology series. A certain amount of poetic licence has been implemented in this version. Not only has the key character's occupation been changed, but the main difference here is that rather then finish on the cat giving him away by accidentally being walled-up with the body of his wife, it goes past this point so that his secret is revealed in a different but somewhat similar way, with an additional unexpected ending - which is always welcome.

I like the short story within a film format. It works well, making the content tighter and giving the whole more impact. This release comes with only a trailer for each segment, but is nevertheless well worth a look.


Ty Power

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