Directed by Dario Argento, George A. Romero
Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Harvey Keitel, Kim Hunter, Tom Atkins
Dario Argento and George Romero two of the worlds greatest horror film writer/directors have maintained a relationship throughout their careers with Argento even playing an uncredited role of producer on Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.
In 1991 the two finally got together “sort of” to collaborate on a film project. The reason I say “sort of” is that the project involved two short stories based on works by Edgar Allen Poe. Each of them worked on their own short, so they really didn’t work together. They did however share Tom Savini special effects artist for both shorts.
This film was initially supposed to be made up of four shorts one from Argento, one from Romero, and additional shorts from Wes Craven and John Carpenter. Unfortunately Craven and Carpenter were to busy to do the project so it became to extended shorts by Argento and Romero.
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. When her husband finally dies he begins to haunt her and her lover 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. When he finally kills his girlfriend in a fit of jealous rage her pet cat drives him to the brink of insanity and takes the short to a gruesome twist at the end.
This film is a fascinating watch on a couple of different levels. The two shorts are both “classic” morality play type of stories that just aren’t well executed in contemporary films. Both films also carry the Edgar Allen Poe atmosphere throughout, represented in very different ways. Romero’s short looks and feels like some of the more fun horror films of the 80’s such as “Creepshow” and “Twilight Zone: The Movie” where Argento’s much more grittier short feels like an episode of “Tales from the Dark Side” told with Italian horror movie flare.
The other thing that makes these shorts interesting to watch is the extremely different types of filmmakers that Romero and Argento are. The shorts look so incredibly different you get a bit of a jolt from one to the other. Romero utilizes his typical sterile, corporate film, industrial style of filmmaking where Argento approaches his short more as a painter than a filmmaker.
Romero’s short is very well executed but told with little style or flare. He made this form of filmmaking popular with his fantastic series of Zombie films. Argento splashes his sets with extreme lighting and color and even builds a custom piece of equipment to allow him to quickly drop his camera from the top of a staircase to the bottom.
“Two Evil Eyes” is a film school in a box due to its examination of two extreme styles of filmmaking. Both shorts are well acted and executed. The stories are fairly straight forward and simplistic but somehow you can almost feel the ghost of Poe placing his influence on both projects. Highly recommended for fans of either director, fans of the previously mentioned television shows and 80’s films, or budding filmmakers looking to examine a multitude of filmmaking styles.
Blue Underground is quickly beginning to reveal itself as one of the best cult DVD distributors releasing products today. They pay a great deal of attention to the transfers of even lesser known films. “Two Evil Eyes” is no exception. The film has been remastered from an original vault negative to its original widescreen aspect ratio. Colors are well represented and there is only a minor amount of artifacting and grain. This is the nicest this movie has ever looked.
Blue Underground once again pulled out the stops in the audio department offering the film in 6.1 DTS-ES / 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX / Dolby Surround 2.0. Although this film doesn’t really take great advantage of these different audio mixes they all sound phenomenal. The score, the sound effects, and dialogue are all very clearly mixed and a joy to listen too.
The Bonus Features
They have really dug up some great extras for this special edition. One of my favorites is a short featurette shot during the making of “Two Evil Eyes” with Tom Savini giving a tour of his home. As expected his house is covered in movies special effects gear and collectables. You can tell he really loves what he does and respects his peers.
There’s an interview shot during the “Creepshow” era with Adrienne Barbeau discussing her experiences working with George Romero. There’s also a short documentary featuring interviews with Dario Argento, George Romero, producer Claudio Argento, and Asia Argento. Finally there’s an additional featurette covering the special effects of the film. Also available are trailers and still galleries.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10