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Review: Two Evil Eyes (1990)

Directed by: George A. Romero, Dario Argento | 120 minutes | , thriller | Actors: Adrienne Barbeau, Ramy Zada, Bingo O’Malley, Jeff Howell, EG Marshall, , Jonathan Adams, Tom Atkins, Mitchell Baseman, , , Larry John Meyers, , , Christina Romero, , Madeleine Potter, John Amos, Sally Kirkland, Kim Hunter, Holter Graham, , , , Mario Caputo, Lanene Charters, Bill Dalzell, JR Hall, Scott House, James MacDonald, Charles McPherson, , Ben Tatar, Lou Valenzi, ,

It seems like a match made in heaven, not only bringing horror movie masters Dario Argento and George Romero together for one film project, but also linking their talents to the work of horror author Edgar Allen Poe. Initially the plan was to bring together several great directors from the genre, but it ended up with the Argento-Romero tandem, which provides a varying, but quite successful interpretation of Poe’s ghost stories in their diptych entitled ‘Two Evil Eyes’. .

Romero kicks off with ‘The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar ‘, a film that was originally mainly about the twilight space between life and death and how a man is held here through hypnosis. Romero expands it into half a film noir, in which the wife of this wealthy man, Mr. Valdemar, together with her lover try to get his money by manipulating him and keeping him alive through hypnosis. The film noir aspect is of little interest, although it is always at least interesting to see how far people can go in their greed. But the characters are unsympathetic and do little to make the viewer really care about their dilemmas. Yet the central premise is so creepy that the body’s feelings take over from the mind. Once Mr. Valdemar is in the freezer for dead and he still turns out to be able to talk since his mind is still under hypnosis, it becomes (un) pleasantly oppressive. Not so much because of the prospect of spirits or demons trying to enter the world of the living through his body, but more because of the fact that the man lies there so lifeless, but at the same time talks to his hypnotist (without moving his mouth), and there is the feeling that he could sit up straight at any moment in a classic moment of shock. With bated breath, the viewer awaits this moment when another close-up of his frozen face comes into view. But this moment does not happen, with the result that the viewer no longer knows what to expect. it becomes (un) pleasantly oppressive. Not so much because of the prospect of spirits or demons trying to enter the world of the living through his body, but more because of the fact that the man lies there so lifeless, but at the same time talks to his hypnotist (without moving his mouth), and there is the feeling that he could sit up straight at any moment in a classic moment of shock. With bated breath, the viewer awaits this moment when another close-up of his frozen face comes into view. But this moment does not happen, with the result that the viewer no longer knows what to expect. it becomes (un) pleasantly oppressive. Not so much because of the prospect of spirits or demons trying to enter the world of the living through his body, but more because of the fact that the man lies there so lifeless, but at the same time talks to his hypnotist (without moving his mouth), and there is the feeling that he could sit up straight at any moment in a classic moment of shock. With bated breath, the viewer awaits this moment when another close-up of his frozen face comes into view. But this moment does not happen, with the result that the viewer no longer knows what to expect. but at the same time talks to his hypnotist (without moving his mouth), and there is the feeling that he can sit up any moment in a classic moment of shock. With bated breath, the viewer awaits this moment when another close-up of his frozen face comes into view. But this moment does not happen, with the result that the viewer no longer knows what to expect. but at the same time talks to his hypnotist (without moving his mouth), and there is the feeling that he can sit up any moment in a classic moment of shock. With bated breath, the viewer awaits this moment when another close-up of his frozen face comes into view. But this moment does not happen, with the result that the viewer no longer knows what to expect.

The idea of ​​someone who is physically dead but with his mind trapped in an in-between world is disturbing, partly because of what this man perceives and how he feels in this state or in this location.

Because of the hairstyles, costumes and setting, the film feels a bit like a product from the eighties. The acting is also old-fashioned unspectacular and the whole comes across as an episode of the series ‘Tales from the Crypt’ or the ‘Twilight Zone’. Some scenes are reminiscent of zombie moments from Romero’s classic “Dead” films, but the film does not really bear a recognizable stamp of the director. ‘The Facts in the Case of Mr Valdemar’ is not an exceptional, but acceptable film by one of the greatest names in (horror) film .

After having colleague Romero give his interpretation of ‘The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar ‘, a story about a seemingly deceased rich man who still wanders with his mind between life and death, it’s the turn of giallo expert Dario Argento to shine his light on a possibly undead cat in’ The Black Cat ‘. The tone is set right in the first few minutes by showing a naked lady, split in half with a shuttle, who is being investigated by Detective Legrand (John Amos), who is joined in this morbid massacre by photographer Roderick Usher, played by a like always very competent Harvey Keitel. Usher is fascinated by these gruesome massacres and records them all from different angles,

He needs a sip of alcohol every now and then to process his experiences. Only his wife is less happy about this, especially when one evening he is struggling hard at the kitchen table while his wife is in sack and ashes because of her accidentally missing black cat; a beast Usher hated. She thinks hubby is behind it, and when he lashes out at her and even hits her, her suspicions seem confirmed.

It is the beginning of increasingly mysterious and macabre events, with a recurring element, the black cat from the title, which is regarded as dead. There is even a medieval sequence in the film and there are occasional references to witches and hell (south of heaven), themes that are not uncommon in Argento’s work.

‘The Black Cat’ has a bit of everything: a bit of psychology, a bit of , horror, fantasy. And a good whiff of Hitchcock in it, because of the tricks Keitel devises to cover up his crimes, the way he is chased, and not least because of the ‘Psycho’ -like music. This last element is very prominent, and a bit flashy, but still contributes to the atmosphere. Poe’s ‘The Black Cat’ is very well designed by Argento, who has an eye for many facets and makes the basic story, which could have remained something very meaningless, more interesting.
This duo presentation by Romero and Argento has not become the absolute blast that you can expect based on the talent involved, but it is certainly a collection that is worthwhile. Both for fans of the directors and of the horror genre.

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