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Blue Underground presents
Two Evil Eyes: Limited Edition (1990)

"To Edgar Allan Poe, whose stories have inspired this motion picture."
- narrator

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: July 08, 2005

Stars: Harvey Keitel, Adrienne Barbeau
Other Stars: Ramy Zada, Sally Kirkland, Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, John Amos, Kim Hunter, Madeleine Potter
Director: George Romero, Dario Argento

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (graphic violence, adult language, gore)
Run Time: 01h:59m:54s
Release Date: April 29, 2003
UPC: 827058400497
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AAA B+

DVD Review

With George Romero (finally) back in the limelight with the theatrical release of his film, Land of the Dead, and Dario Argento continuing to make his unique brand of horror films, what better time than now to revisit a forgotten classic that these two monumental directors collaborated on. 1990's Two Evil Eyes is an anthology featuring two separate, 60-minute films based on tales from Edgar Allan Poe.

The first story is George Romero's take on Poe's The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar. The core of this story has basically remained intact, with Romero only taking liberties to place the characters in a modern setting, thereby changing a few of the dynamics, including the use of wills, hospital equipment, etc. We begin with Jessica (Adrienne Barbeau) arriving at her lawyer's office to discuss what will happen to the money of her dying husband, Ernest (Bingo O'Malley), after he's gone.

This lawyer, Mr. Pike (E.G. Marshall), isn't exactly fond of Jessica, seeing her as the gold-digging ex-flight attendant that she is, obviously having married Ernest for his fortune. Sure enough, Jessica is all about the money, as she has devised a scheme, along with her ex-lover and Ernest's doctor, Robert (Ramy Zada), to get her husband to sign everything over to her while under hypnosis. However, the two schemers have to keep Ernest alive for a set amount of time to get all of his money, and when that becomes increasingly difficult, the chances of their indiscretions coming back to haunt them increase as well.

Italian filmmaker Dario Argento is the man behind the second tale, The Black Cat. Here, we have Rod (Harvey Keitel), a forensic photographer who lives with his girlfriend, Annabel (Madeleine Potter), between photo sessions with dead bodies. Annabel seems a bit strange, though, as she is heavily interested in Wicca and other alternate practices. She soon takes in a stray black cat that Rod instantly takes a disliking to, but when he has an idea for a new macabre photography book, he decides that the black cat is going to be the subject. Unfortunately for the cat, the major focus of the book is going to be its death. When Annabel sees a copy of Rod's new book, it might soon be the death of his as well.

Of the two, The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar is easily the most effective, and scarier of the two horror yarns. It will instantly remind you of the Creepshow segment, Something to Tide You Over—Barbeau also starred in that film, but not that particular segment—in that both deal with the revenge of the dead. While not quite as creepy as the Ted Danson-Leslie Nielsen starrer, this story has one major thing going for it: Ms. Barbeau. This buxom beauty was basically appearing in her last major movie role as far as genre fans were concerned, and she has never been or looked better. She easily embodies this awful person who never really loved her husband. Barbeau manages to also make us feel sympathy for her character, who does realize, albeit too late, that she's done the wrong thing.

The Black Cat is very solid as well, but Harvey Keitel is too far out of his element to pull off a believable photographer-turned-killer. From his terrible beret to over-the-top acting, Keitel seems to be trying a bit too hard to pull this role off. Still, the rest of the actors are sharp, including an appearance by Martin Balsam as neighbor Mr. Pym. Argento even gives a great nod to Balsam's famous death scene in Psycho by making him almost venture up a staircase that looks eerily similar to the one in Hitchcock's classic.

Argento's segment does feature one hell of a dream sequence, taking us on a journey through Rod's mind and his thoughts about Annabel's witchy past life. This pretty much saves the segment right when its pace languishes and the story seems to be breaking down. Unfortunately, a slow pace has been the norm for recent Dario Argento films, as none of his last few efforts has come close to being as entertaining and horrific as The Black Cat.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This brand spankin' new anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer breathes new life into this 15-year-old film. Blue Underground's work on the film's color scheme is remarkable, with amazingly deep blacks and sharp vivid red blood representing a few of the brilliant hues. The exquisite detail of each and every image is more shocking than some of the story's content, as I really expected much worse for such a low budget and, let's face it, low profile genre entry. The only minor flaw that keeps this transfer from being perfect is the annoying cameo by some grain, but you'll be too busy marveling in the rest of the presentation to be distracted by this.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Two of the three audio choices are just as revelatory as the video, with the Dolby Digital 2.0 option being, unsurprisingly, the least impressive of the lot. The tracks of choice are the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS ES 6.1 mixes. The DTS mix gets the slightest of an edge over the DD 5.1 due to slightly more refined channel separations, but both are almost identical. The best aspect of these tracks is their ability to fight the urge to manufacture dynamic sounds. Instead, they keep everything simple, delivering solid, yet never overwhelming bass, and using the surrounds to bring added realism to the ambient sounds and create an enveloping atmosphere for the claustrophobic, creepier sequences. The dialogue doesn't skip a beat, and is seamlessly integrated into each and every one of these audio options.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Poster & Still Gallery
Extras Review: This two-disc set features a collection of extras that horror fans are sure to love, most of them on Disc 2. Disc 1 does house a few, though, including talent bios for George Romero and Dario Argento, a poster/stills gallery, and the theatrical trailer for the feature.

The rest of the extras are on Disc 2, beginning with the new 30-minute documentary, Two Masters Eyes, which features separate interviews with Dario Argento and George Romero, during which they discuss Poe's influences on them. They also talk about how much they have enjoyed working with each other in this and other films. It's also great to see the footage of an on-set interview with Argento's daughter, Asia (Romero's Land of the Dead), during which she talks about wanting to work with her dad, which she wound up doing a few times.

Savini's EFX runs for 12 minutes and features the great, always entertaining and energetic Tom Savini. He talks about how he had to split his work between the film's two stories and there is some great, on-set footage with Savini's work in action.

There's more Savini in store for those who want to be At Home with Tom Savini. This is 16 minutes of pure bliss, as the EFX wizard shows us his incredible house, with its vast collection of movie props and other items used in the various films he has worked on.

Adrienne Barbeau on George Romero is a five-minute interview that was recorded by director Roy Frumkes during the filming of Two Evil Eyes and shot for, but not used in his film, Document of the Dead. She spends her brief interview time talking about working for Romero, focusing on how much she trusts him as a director.

An easter egg can also be found by clicking on the words, "Bonus Disc" near the top of Disc 2's first menu screen. Doing this results in the playing of a 45-second clip in which Christine Romero (George's wife) talks about the mean disposition of the nurse she played in Two Evil Eyes.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Horror fans should relish repeat viewings of Two Evil Eyes on Blue Underground's excellent two-disc DVD set on which the audio, video, and extras are excellent, as this might be the last time that Romero and Argento collaborate on a project, hand-in-hand. While not necessarily a direct collaboration, the two horror mavens both play a part in the upcoming TV anthology series, Masters of Horror, each helming a separate story. That's plenty to look forward to this October, as this wonderful horror renaissance lives on.

 


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