Two Evil Eyes (1980)
By: J.R. McNamara on October 1, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DTS 6.1, English DD 2.0. 120 Minutes
The Movie
Directors: George Romero & Dario Argento
Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Ramy Zada, Tom Atkins, Harvey Keitel, Madeleine Potter, John Amos
Screenplay: George A. Romero, Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini
Country: USA/Italy
AKA: Due Occhi Diabolici
Over the history of cinema, Edgar Allen Poe's huge output of horror tales and poems has been the source of many movies. Starting in 1908 with the silent film Sherlock Holmes in the Great Murder Mystery (putting Doyle's character into Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue), Poe's stories of the dark side of our personalities are so easily adaptable to current situations that he has remained a perennial favorite. Dario Argento has repeatedly stated that his love of the horror genre comes from his time as a youngster reading Poe while suffering from an illness and Poe's mood is generally apparent in Argento's films, so it was only a matter of time before he decided to do a film featuring Poe's work.

Originally, Dario Argento's plan for this movie was to be a four story anthology, with John Carpenter ,Wes Craven, and George Romero joining him, but unfortunately for the fans, Carpenter and Craven pulled out. What are left are two of Poe's better known stories The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, filmed here by Romero as The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar, and Argento's take on The Black Cat.

The Facts in the Case of Mr Valdemar, with George Romero both directing and writing the screenplay, is the tale of Jessica Valdemar (Adrianne Barbeau), whose elderly husband Ernest (Bingo O'Malley) is dying. His doctor, Robert Hoffman (Ramy Zada), who is also Jessica's lover, has a way of hypnotizing Ernest so that the lovers can get him to sign his entire estate over to her so they can live together happily ever after. Luckily, the hypnosis is convincing, and Steven Pike (E.G. Marshall), Ernest's friend and attorney, who is suspicious of Jessica, has all his concerns put to rest. Unfortunately for the couple, Ernest dies whilst under the hypnosis, and this brings about a terrifying side effect and the lines between life and death suddenly become blurred.

The Black Cat is directed by Dario Argento and the screenplay is by himself and Franco Ferrini. Rod Usher (Harvey Keitel) is a photographer who specializes in the macabre, most of his photos being of crime scenes. When his girlfriend Annabel (Madeline Potter) adopts a black cat, Rod decides his next photo essay should be on the destruction of the animal, and so begins to photograph himself killing it, ready for publication within his next book. The tome, entitled Metropolitan Horrors, is published, and Rod finds himself forced to kill Annabel in lieu of calming her down. Now, with a body to get rid of, he decides to his only course of action is to wall her up in part of the house, which proves to be his undoing.

Nominated by the Academy for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films for the Saturn award for Best Genre Video release, Two Evil Eyes feels like two extended Tales of the Crypt episodes, unusually though without a host or a linking story (a la Tales from the Darkside). There are many references to other stories of Poe's in this anthology: Rod Usher, Annabel, Leonora, the Pym family, the pendulum which are nothing more than set dressing and of interest really only to the Poe aficionado. This joining of Romero and Argento is horror gold. Even though they don't work together, and the stories do tend to be a bit uneven, this movie is enjoyable and the performances by all the actors are a bit tongue in cheek, but effective never the less.
This film is presented in 1.85:1 Widescreen and is a nice clear picture with no faults.
The audio comes in 3 choices: Dolby 2.0, 6.1 DTS-ES and 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX. The 5.1 was reviewed and found to be of a high quality.
Extra Features
There is a trailer for Two Evil Eyes (1 minute 27 seconds).

There are 88 behind the scenes pictures, lobby cards and posters.

The talent bios have fairly complete biographies of Romero and Argento, up to 2003. It even has a few details of Romero's then un-produced Dead film tentatively titled 'Dead Reckoning' and Argento's Sleepless, which was finished 18 months earlier.
The Verdict
Argento's and Romero's versions of Poe's delightful tales of deceit and treachery are wonderful. This movie is a pleasure to watch on a well crafted disc. It is a shame there were not more extras. This movie is a great introduction in to Poe's writings.
Movie Score
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