Two Evil Eyes (1990)

Fancy stepping back in time with a bit of retro 80’s horror?
Want to sample the works of two horror masters in a project inspired by Edgar Allen Poe?
Like lots of blood and heavily synthesised music?
Well, Two Evil Eyes (Due occhi diabolici) could be just what you’re looking for!

In a similar vein to Creepshow, Dario Argento and George Romero put together this little number, releasing it back in 1990.
As there are two tales, it’s probably best to look at them separately to begin with.

First off is The Facts About Mr. Valdemar.
A ruthless millionaire named Ernest Valdemar is at deaths door. However, his wife Jessica, and doctor Robert Hoffman can’t wait for him to die before getting it on. They also can’t wait to get their hands on his money, so they plot to sneak some of it out early.
By hypnotising the dying man, they get him to consent to cash withdrawals and plan to keep him going long enough to get rich.
However, when Ernest dies a little early, the plan starts to slip, and to make matters worse, he isn’t totally dead – as his being hypnotised at the time of death has left him in a weird kind of limbo.
As Jessica and Dr. Robert struggle to keep things together, all sorts of forces work against them, seemingly determined to keep the money out of their reach.

This tale reminded me a lot of ‘Father’s Day’ from Creepshow. And minus the cartoon graphics, the style was very similar.
It’s dark, nicely shot (if a little too like a made for TV production) and well paced.
retro horror lovers will enjoy the fact that Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Swamp Thing, Escape from New York) plays the lead, and there’s even a cameo by one of my favourites, Tom Atkins (The Fog, Halloween 3, The Creeps).

The story is pretty simple, perhaps too much so, but is told well. The climax is definitely chilling, and there are even a few jumps thrown in for good measure.

Black Cat stars none other than Harvey Keitel playing Roderick Usher, a crime scene photographer who lives with Annabel, a young violin teacher. Things seem good between them until she takes in a stray black cat. There’s something about this moggy that Roderick doesn’t like; the way it looks at him, the way it scratches him all the time…
He goes off the rails fast and in a drunken rage, kills the animal. However, this feline is hard to beat, and keeps coming back for more.It even comes to him in a strange dream about medieval times (?!).
Annabel’s love for the creature the couple apart, and it seems that she is more concerned about its whereabouts than she is about her partner.
As Roderick grows more wild and violent, the cat is even more determined to haunt him. And when he does wrong, it seems that the puss is determined to let everyone know about it.

Black Cat is a little odd, that is, stranger than The Facts About Mr. Valdemar. It’s harder to fathom who the characters are and generally what’s going on. There is also a pretty weird dream sequence that on reflection, seems a bit too random and a somewhat unnecessary addition to the plot.
However, Keitel is great as the savage, alcoholic photographer and his character alone is intriguing enough to keep the viewer’s interest.
In many ways, Black Cat is a nastier film. There is more gore, more brutality, and more mystery. The tale is a twisted one, about revenge and the consequences of actions, and the way in which it is filmed is very reminiscent of Argento’s other works.

Generally, Two Evil Eyes is an entertaining double bill. Neither story would have been quite strong enough to stand as a lone feature, but complement each other in the way that they are different, a little strange and both equally well produced and absorbing.

It you’re a lover of Tales from the Crypt, Creepshow, Tales of the Unexpected or any other such collections of disturbing tales, this will be a great addition to your collection.

Two Evil Eyes is out on DVD from 10 May.

Movie Rating: ★★★½☆ 

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