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Two Evil Eyes(1990)
The masters of modern horror – George Romero and Dario Argento – bring you an unprecedented pair of shockers inspired by the tales of Edgar Allan Poe. In Romero’s 'The Facts In The Case Of Mr. Valdemar', a conniving wife (Adrienne Barbeau of 'The Fog') and her lover use a hypnotic trance to embezzle a fortune from her dying husband, only to receive some chilling surprises from beyond the grave. Then in Argento’s 'The Black Cat', a deranged crime scene photographer (Harvey Keitel of 'Reservoir Dogs') is driven to brutal acts of madness and murder by his girlfriend’s new pet. But will this cunning feline deliver a final sickening twist of its own?
For more about Two Evil Eyes and the Two Evil Eyes Blu-ray release, see Two Evil Eyes Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 9, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Directors: Dario Argento, George A. Romero
Writers: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, George A. Romero
Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, E.G. Marshall, Harvey Keitel, Madeleine Potter, Ramy Zada, Martin Balsam
» See full cast & crew
Two Evil Eyes Blu-ray Review
From the minds and eyes of two legendary directors.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 9, 2009
To Edgar Allan Poe, whose stories have inspired this motion picture.
This is what "Masters of Horror" wanted to be. In Two Evil Eyes, Horror legends George A. Romero (Land of the Dead) and Dario Argento (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage) team up to present a pair of hour-long films under one banner, the films merging to form a united front with a running theme of true psychological terror with physical manifestations and consequences. Each director lends a very unique eye to the process, the result two films with often striking differences in tone but similarities in theme. The Argento entry proves to be deeper than the somewhat superficial Romero outing, but each film often captivates with intriguing stories and deeper themes than the average Horror fare, the result a movie that offers an intriguing juxtaposition of Horror style while thematically covering the dangers of allowing superficialities and raw emotion to get in the way of better moral judgment and one's mental and spiritual well-being.
The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar
Jessica Valdemar (Adrienne Barbeau) is a middle-aged woman who has given the best years of her life to a much older and incredibly wealthy gentleman, Ernest (Bingo O'Malley). Now that Ernest is on his deathbed, Jessica wants her due for her years of service as a trophy wife, a classic gold digger. Enlisting the help of unscrupulous doctor Robert Hoffman (Ramy Zada), Ernest has left his estate to Jessica -- while under a state of hypnosis. Jessica sets the process in motion, prepared to receive several million dollars, and she must only keep Ernest alive long enough to see the transaction through to the end. When Ernest suddenly dies several weeks ahead of schedule, panic sets in. Jessica and Robert choose to preserve the body in a large freezer in the mansion's basement and concoct a scheme to fake Ernest's death certificate and solve other legal and postmortem issues that may arise and prevent that inheritance of the wealth. Even in death, however, Ernest may have one more trick up his sleeve to make one final impression on his greedy and unprincipled wife.
The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar is a solid hour-long segment that, in true George A. Romero fashion, tells a chilling tale of life after death while commenting on timely -- and timeless -- issues. Romero crafts a story of deception, lust, greed, and spite, where the world of the living just may be more damned than that of the dead. The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar feels somewhat dated, both in look and feel. It's not a hardcore Horror picture; instead, it's more of a chilling, disturbing, but also fascinating film that offers aspects of Mystery along with a sprinkling of Science Fiction, even, viewed in the proper context. Romero lends to his film a commentary on greed, the message perhaps not quite as meaningful thanks to the not-so-subtle approach and the overtly disgusting attributes of the primary characters. It seems history has proven that more subtle characterization, combined with covert societal finger-pointing, works better in film than does the frying pan-to-the-head approach. The message is loud and clear in The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar, and it's a good one, but the characters are so vile and amoral in their actions that they nestle into an extreme that represents but a handful of humanity's very worst. Overall, however, The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar makes for a decent watch; it's slightly goofy at times and not terribly scary or gory, but it accomplishes all it needs to well enough, even in the context of the not necessarily heavy-handed message but its presentation in an extreme circumstance.
The Black Cat
Crime scene photographer Roderick Usher (Harvey Keitel, Reservoir Dogs) becomes entangled in a physical and psychological battle with a stray black cat that his girlfriend has brought into their home. It soon becomes apparent that the man and cat share no love for one another, and when Usher is charged with shooting material other than crime scenes to prove his mettle as a photographer, he chooses to photograph the cat, the session turning malicious as he mishandles the cat in a way that becomes severe physical abuse. Haunted by the animal, Usher comes to believe that it bears a mark foretelling his own death, and he locks into a struggle with the cat that pits man against common household beast that drives him into a state of total insanity.
Superficially, The Black Cat is the tale of man versus beast, filled with plenty of gore (including a death scene that would be copied in Saw V) and helmed by Dario Argento who lends to the film a fast pace, solid visuals, and intriguing story. Beyond the very basic premise of The Black Cat lies a tale of psychological paranoia and fear leading to very real physical degradation. The cat represents the physical manifestation of a mental blockage, where the most ordinary, everyday, and mundane of objects -- a cat in this case, perhaps tall heights or water elsewhere -- create in the right environment and the proper frame of mind a real or imagined danger that wrecks havoc on anyone who allows a phobia to gain complete control over the entirety of the body, it's physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual condition. Therein lies the true horror of the film. It's not the gore or the physical confrontation between man and beast but rather the inner struggle, the loss of sanity, and the absence of control over a situation that leads to true, unimaginable terror.
Two Evil Eyes Blu-ray, Video Quality
Two Evil Eyes gazes at Blu-ray with a 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer. The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar offers up a good transfer, one that is nice and clear, showcasing strong colors and solid levels of detail. Film grain is moderately heavy in places, but never serves as much of a distraction. The warmer scenes, those in Mr. Pike's office early in the first segment, for example, offer the best colors and most stable imagery. Many shots inside the Valdemar mansion feature bright light streaming through large windows that somewhat diffuses the image. Still, the image remains rather strong, offering excellent detail across the board, from Ernest's wrinkly face to the medical equipment that stabilizes him. The segment has a bit of a dated look to it. It's not as eye-catching and natural looking as the best of Blu-ray, but there is never a major problem with the transfer. The Black Cat features a heavier grain field than that seen in the previous film. Like the first entry, colors and detail are solid across the board. Whether the action takes place on dark Pittsburgh nights or during the day inside Usher's home, the disc never falters in offering above-average clarity and sharpness. Characters look slightly pale at times, but black levels are good. In total, Two Evil Eyes should please fans with its quality high definition video presentation.
Two Evil Eyes Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Two Evil Eyes scares up a solid audio experience. In Blue Underground style, the disc offers up a pair of 7.1 lossless soundtracks, one of the DTS-HD MA variety and the other a Dolby TrueHD track. The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar offers a soundtrack that is decent at best. Dialogue is fine, clear but not completely sharp. Sound effects are occasionally heard discretely in the front right and left channels. Music is presented naturally with no discernible hiccups. The back speakers are used sparsely. It's a rather bland mix, but it's sufficiently effective nevertheless. The Black Cat doesn't fare quite as well. The cat's hisses and growls sound detached, unnatural, and louder in volume compared to the rest of the track. Music, in some instances, seems to often play second fiddle to dialogue and sound effects, sounding a bit more uninspired than the disconcerting meowing and hissing of the cat. Elsewhere, music reproduction is strong and presented with a nice bit of authority across the soundstage. Occasional bits of dialogue also unnaturally pour through each of the front speakers simultaneously, making the dialogue sound detached and lending something of an odd echoing sensation to the sequences. On the whole, Two Evil Eyes offers a sufficient soundtrack, though The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar fares better than the uneven The Black Cat.
Two Evil Eyes Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray release of Two Evil Eyes scares up a few bonus features. Two Masters' Eyes -- Interviews With Directors Dario Argento and George Romero, Special Make-Up Effects Supervisor Tom Savini, Executive Producer Claudio Argento and Asia Argento (480p, 29:32) is just as advertised, a hodgepodge of interview segments featuring each of the participants sharing their thoughts on the film's stories and themes, shooting in Pittsburgh, and with special emphasis in places on the influence of Edgar Allan Poe. Savini's EFX -- A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Film's Special Make-Up effects (480p, 12:06) is a fascinating glimpse into the world of movie magic through the eyes and work of renowned effects man Tom Savini as seen in Two Evil Eyes. At Home With Tom Savini -- A Personal Tour of Tom Savini's Home (480p, 15:43) is another solid piece where viewers are taken into the personal world of the film's effects supervisor. Adrienne Barbeau on George Romero -- Interview With Star Adrienne Barbeau (480p, 4:35) features an interview originally intended for Roy Frumkes' Document of the Dead and showcases the star of The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar discussing her views of Romero's abilities as a filmmaker. Finally, this disc includes the film's original theatrical trailer (480p, 1:28).
Two Evil Eyes Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Two Evil Eyes features two of Horror's most iconic directors lending their creative talents to a pair of sub-hour films that offer an improvement over a similar product, the "Masters of Horror" series. George A. Romero serves up the more straightforward The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar, a decent outing that rates low on the scares but high on the social commentary. With The Black Cat, master Horror Director Dario Argento examines Horror at its core, bringing full circle an inner struggle manifested in a physical confrontation and the loss of humanity as a man spirals out of control as he struggles with both paranoia and physical fear against a foe that may or may not be the true villain of the story. Blue Underground's release of Two Evil Eyes should please fans. The disc features solid video, passable lossless audio tracks, and a fair amount of bonus materials. This is another good release from the fan-favorite cult studio, and fans of either or both of the film's directors should not hesitate to add this to the Blu-ray Horror collection.
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Two Evil Eyes Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blue Underground Announces Two Evil Eyes - December 5, 2008
Blue Underground has announced that they will release the George Romero and Dario Argento double feature 'Two Evil Eyes' for Blu-ray on March 31st. Both "The Facts In The Case Of Mr. Valdemar" and "The Black Cat" will be presented in 1080p video along with 7.1 ...
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