Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Two Evil Eyes (1991)

                         


Title: Two Evil Eyes (1991)

Directors: George Romero, Dario Argento

Cast: Harvey Keitel, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins

Review:

Two great horror masters Dario Argento and George Romero unite their creative efforts to create a homage to the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Ive been a fan of both of these directors for some time now. When I found out that they worked together on this film I knew sooner or later it would have to form part of my DVD collection. I mean two of the greats! Romeros Dead Quadrilogy and his other fine films such as Martin, Monkey Shines and The Dark Half, among others have made him one of horrordoms most beloved directors, and his still working today. Still making zombie movies, a die hard horror director till the very end! His films are always infused with an air of rebellion to them. Things are not preatty in Romeros films...humans are often times the real enemy!

Dario Argento the grand guignol master of stylish Italian giallos. The man can orchestrate a murder sequence and make it look like a work of art. A director who doesnt let his camara shy away from a knife slashing the throat of its victim. We know him from his previous masterpieces Suspiria, Opera, Inferno, Deep Red and countless others wich he has made across the years. Not only a fine artiste but also a true lover of horror and the occult. Though I will have to admit, Argento's recent work has been on the dissapointing side. His true classics reside in his earlier work. I dont think any of Argento's recent work is of worthy of a "masterpiece" status like his older films. I am of the mind that his last great film came in 1987 with Opera. Still, I cant say Im completely informed. Ive yet to see more of the films he made in the 90's. But his most recent films like Mother of Tears was just cringe inducing.

What's great about a project like Two Evil Eyes is that it brought together these two legendary horror directors in one film. Both of them bring their own style and fashion in Two Evil Eyes, both of them have their moments to shine. Each of the two stories lasts about an hour each, so its almost like getting two movies in one. How can we go wrong with this one?


First of, we have George Romeros The Facts of the Case of M. Valdermar. In it Adrienne Barbeau and her lover hypnotize her old rich husband and make him sign over his fortune to them against his will. Then all they have to do is let him die and all the money goes to them. Problem is, this old man wont stay dead! A very cool story, its the kind of story that Romero loves to do. You mess with the dead, you die like the rest. He did it in Creepshow in which we get the story of a vengeful dead father who comes back for his "Fathers Day" cake Killing all his greedy sons and daughters who only care about the money he left them. And in the same movie we have two lovers who are drowned by the jealous husband only to have them come back from the dead to kill him. But what makes the zombie story in Two Evil Eyes interesting is the brilliant idea of adding the hypnosis angle to it.


I have to admit that Romeros half of Two Evil Eyes feels redundant at times. It has a "been there done that" feel to it. You defenetly feel like Romero is walking on familiar ground with this zombie/revenge story. If you have already seen most of Romero's zombie films, you'll feel like that. Still, the story does have a few twists that make it new enough for you not to loose interest. I loved how the zombie can talk "from beyond" and talk about what he is seeing on the other side. Really eerie moments there. The whole angle of hypnotism and the final effects of using it! Wow! What a scene! It was perfectly spooky at times....all leading to a really cool zombie filled conclusion.


The cast includes horror film regulars. We get Adrianne Barbeau who'd worked before with Argento on Creepshow. On this flick she plays a similar character, a selfish drunkard heartless bitch. Tom Atkins a horror film veteran (Night of the Creeps, The Fog, Halloween III to name a few) appears on this one once again, playing a (wait for it) cigar chomping detective! Tom Atkins is so type casted all the time it isnt even funny! They guy always plays a variation of a cigar chomping detective on practically every movie he is on!

The make up effects are great on both stories since they were handled by another master of disaster, the one and only Tom Savini. The zombie make up is excellent! I was also impressed with how much style Romero infused his short film with. Normally Romero doesnt concern himself with style. His main focus is to just tell the story with his camera. Yet on Two Evil Eyes, there are little shots here and there that I was really amazed with....specially towards the end. Romero using visual effects? Unheard off! Yet here they are and done in a perfectly eerie and subtle fashion. Maybe there was a little bit of healthy competition going on between Romero and Dario? Both trying to out do each other? Another positive aspect of this type of film. Because there are certain moments in Argento's half that were pretty shocking!

Dario's spooky tale The Black Cat, had all the things we come to expect from an Argento tale. The first shots in Dario's film show us of the gruesome remains of a Pendulum slicing a woman in half. You see in this film, Harvey Keitel is a photographer and he takes pictures of dead people at crime scenes. We meet him taking pictures of this gruesome site and you feel like you just walked into the middle of a movie you wished you had seen. I mean just the set alone with that huge Pendulum was awesome! And to top it all off in typical Argento style, he puts the camera on the Pendulum giving us a Pendulums eye view as it slashes back and forth on the dead body. Awesome shot! Right away I knew I was going to love this film.


Harvey Keitel always wants to get the most graphic and shocking images for this new book he is doing. So one day, after being particularly fed up with his girlfriends cat desides to kill the cat, and photograph it. Unfortunately, this isnt just any old cat. This is one of those magical vengeful black cats who wont go out without a fight.


Argento does his usual exploration of ancient myths and legends giving us a little insight as to why Black Cats are considered bad luck and why they burned witches in the past. I was like "this is just like Argento to teach us a little something before blowing our brains out with the gore!" And right I was! Theres plenty of gory goodies in this story once it gets going. It has little homages to many of Poes short stories like "The Pit and the Pendulum" "The Black Cat" and "The Cask of Amontillado". It seems like Argento is the most enamored with Poe of the two directors. Argentos short film is infused with all the style, gore and story that were used to get from Argento but in short controlled bursts. I like the fact that these two short films are fast paced due to the time constraint. It forced Argento to show us strictly what was needed to make the story move along and he doesnt play around with unnecesary plot lines like in some of his other Italian films. Here its just wham! Bam! Lets go! Not only that but we get a great performance from Keitel, very intense, very violent. The man is pure evil in this film!


There was only one thing I didnt like in Darios half. Theres this scene in wich a body is hanging from a rope and for some reason wich I cannot comprehend Dario decided to use reverse photography to make it look like the body was moving back and forth as it hanged. It just came off as sloppy or maybe even lazy filmmaking. But thats really the only negative thing I can say about this great flick.


As  you can see from most of my review I was greatly pleased with this film and cant recommend it enough to Romero/Argento lovers out there. It was a once in a life time type of deal and the fruits of their labor paid off. Great work guys! The extras on this special edition double disc DVD are really great! Theres a tour through Tom Savinis mask infested home with hundreads of masks and props from all the movies that he has worked on! Interviews with Argento, Romero and Asia. Great stuff. Worth the money.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Two Evil EyesTwo Evil Eyes [VHS]Creepshow (Snap Case)Creepshow 2

2 comments:

Mr. Fiendish said...

I have to say that I felt Romero's Waldemar story in Two Evil Eyes was a bit disappointing. It felt like an uninteresting made-for-tv movie. But Argento's was a masterpiece

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Argento's is more dramatic, has a darker tone to it. Im personally fond of that whole sequence where the impale that witch...awesome stuff.

Romero's is kind of cartoony in a way, I dont know what it is about Barbeau, but all her performances are so cartoony, like this cartoon version of what a drunkard should be like. She did the same in Creepshow.

But I really do love those last moments in Romero's half, inside of that hotel room.

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