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Two Evil Eyes (1990)

DVD Cover (Blue Underground)
Movie Connections:
The Black Cat
> Two Evil Eyes (1990)
> The Black Cat (2007)
Genres / Traits:
Horror, Horror Anthology, Supernatural Horror, Cats
Directors:
Dario Argento Dario Argento
George A. Romero George A. Romero
Starring:
Adrienne Barbeau Adrienne Barbeau
Ramy Zada Ramy Zada
Bingo O'Malley Bingo O'Malley
Jeff Howell Jeff Howell
E.G. Marshall E.G. Marshall
User Lists:
> Dario Argento

6.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: June 12, 2006
Forget that series on Showtime, this is the true definition of "Masters of Horror" right here. George Romero and Dario Argento, two of the biggest names in horror history, team up to bring two stories by Edgar Allen Poe to the big screen. Honestly folks, what more could you ask for?

It begins with Romero's piece, which is entitled "The Facts In The Case Of Mister Valdemar". Here, we find a conniving young lady named Jessica (Adrienne Barbeau) who married a much older man in Ernest Valdemar (Bingo O'Malley) for his considerable fortune. As it turns out, Ernest is (literally) on his death-bed and the paperwork to grant Jessica his belongings after his death will take a couple of years to be completed, so Jessica and her secret boyfriend Robert (Ramy Zada) begin working on a plan to steal all of Ernest's cash. They come up with a plot in which Ernest will sign over all of his assets to Jessica before dying so that she can cash them in for cold, hard cash for her and her lover to live on for the rest of their lives. How will they do this? Well, as it turns out, Robert is a doctor who specializes in hypnosis; with but a few words, Robert has Ernest signing everything they put in from of him and saying whatever Robert tells him to. It's an ingenious plan, up until Ernest dies while under hypnosis... and as the couple quickly discovers, you can't truly die until the hypnosis is broken.

Argento's contribution comes to us in "The Black Cat", which features Roderick Usher (Harvey Keitel) as an artist specializing in pictures of crime scenes along with his witch of a girlfriend Annabel (Madeleine Potter). When Annabel finds a stray cat outside their house, she takes it in and treats it with as much love as if it were her only child: a fact that Roderick is none too happy about. When his publisher tells him that he needs a little variety in his pictures since the public will quickly grow tired of seeing the same pictures of corpses over and over, a light bulb goes off over his head. He tortures and eventually kills this black cat while capturing the whole ordeal on film, and what do you know - the pictures are so good that one of them makes the cover of his new book. Annabel, on the other hand, is distraught over her missing kitty, while Roderick swears to her that he had nothing to do with its disappearance. However, there's an old song that goes something along the lines of "The cat came back", and apparently, Roderick never paid it much attention.

On the proverbial paper, neither of these storylines sound exceptionally interesting; Romero's piece sounds a bit too "out there", while Argento's sounds lackluster at best. However, both pieces work out much better than one would expect, and both are quite engrossing once they get going. Romero's is more of a straight-up horror film in the vein of a Tales From The Crypt episode, showing how the the dead always manage to get their revenge on those who have wronged them, while Argento focuses more on the real-life tension of an extremely sticky situation (revealing the exact situation would be a huge spoiler).

Now, I have to admit that George Romero is my personal favorite director. However, and I'm being totally unbiased here, his contribution is definitely the better of the two. As I mentioned, it plays out almost exactly like a Tales From The Crypt episode, and it even features two of the stars of Creepshow (a movie directly inspired by Tales). Being a fan of Tales, I couldn't help but be drawn into this one more. As I also mentioned, this piece is a straight-up horror; while it does have a few moments of black humor as only Romero can deliver, it's not in the over-the-top style of Tales and doesn't distract you from the horror at hand. This helped build the atmosphere up to a downright creepy level, and there's a few scenes that are extremely nerve-wracking as a result.

Although Romero's contribution is the better of the two, that doesn't mean that Argento slouched in his piece by any means. Harvey Keitel plays a pretty despicable man who makes some bad decisions in life for his own personal gain, and we get to watch as the results of these decisions catch up with him. I'm tempted to spoil one of the major twists just so that I can explain that statement more, but let's just say that while the overall storyline is original, Argento incorporates pieces from two or three of the more well-known Poe classics into the mix to fit with the theme of the overall film.

Although they both have different styles, both of these short films are pure horror in the end. Both do a wonderful job of building the atmosphere and raising the hairs on the back of your neck, and you just can't go wrong with that combined with special effects by Tom Savini. This is a truly underrated classic, and it shows exactly why these two directors are widely regarded as two of the best in horror history. 9/10.
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