To paraphrase the old adage, Two Evil Eyes are better than one, and with this film two of horror's most renowned directors, George A. Romero and Dario Argento, joined forces to adapt two Edgar Allan Poe stories.
Romero’s The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar kicks off the proceedings. Adrienne Barbeau stars as Jessica Valdemar, unfaithful wife to an elderly and wealthy sugar daddy. Desperate to be rid of him, Jessica’s psychiatrist lover Robert (Ramy Zada) suggests hypnotising her husband into giving her his estate when he dies. During the hypnotism, M. Valdemar unexpectedly dies leaving his soul stranded between worlds. And his is not the only one. Astonishingly, of the two stories this is the weakest and one can’t help but wonder if Romero was in a hypnotic trance himself when making this. It’s a slow, ponderously pedestrian affair that’s an arduous fifty-five minutes to endure, and the bright, flat lighting is less cinematic, more TV movie of the week.
Argento’s The Black Cat is vastly superior. It’s Argento, but more restrained. He substitutes his usual bright colour palette for more subdued browns and greys, which compliments the subject matter well. Rod Usher, played by a manic Harvey Keitel, is a crime scene photographer, whose violin playing girlfriend (Madeleine Potter), adopts a black cat. The cat takes an instant dislike to Rod which seems to have a dramatic effect on his mood. He rapidly becomes unhinged and in so doing becomes prone to increasingly violent outbursts. Veteran thespians Martin Balsam and Kim Hunter round out the cast as thoroughly decent neighbours who suffer the fallout of Rod’s deteriorating sanity.
The special features, whilst not extensive, are considerably more than you get with standard Blu-ray releases today. The film is presented in both English and Italian, with newly translated English subtitles for the Italian presentation. Curiously the Romero segment doesn’t seem as ponderous in Italian. Double Vision is an interview with horror guru Kim Newman, discussing his first experience of the film at an LA critics screening. He also talks about both directors and their respective filmographies.
There’s also interviews with the second unit director Luigi Cozzi and former Hammer scream-queen Caroline Munro. Munro talks about working in Italian cinema, and in particular on Cozzi's Starcrash. Cozzi talks at length about Two Evil Eyes, and how John Carpenter and Wes Craven were originally to be involved, but they pulled out. He also mentions how Harvey Keitel was difficult to work with at the beginning of the shoot, but he soon calmed down unlike his character. There’s the requisite trailer as you’d expect, but if you want limited edition lobby card reproductions, booklet notes by Dr Calum Waddell and the O-Card slipcase then you’d best get a move on and pick up your copy now as these are only available for the first print run by 88 Films.
All in all, Two Evil Eyes is one evil eye with perfect vision. The other eye has a cataract.
Extras: Double Vision: An Interview with Kim Newman, Two Evil Eyes: An Interview with Second Unit Director Luigi Cozzi and cult actress Caroline Munro, Italian Opening and Closing Credits, Theatrical Trailer, limited edition packaging
TWO EVIL EYES / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: DARIO ARGENTO, GEORGE A. ROMERO / SCREENPLAY: DARIO ARGENTO, GEORGE A. ROMERO / STARRING: ADRIENNE BARBEAU, HARVEY KEITEL, RAMY ZADA, MADELEINE POTTER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW