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TWO EVIL EYES (1990) Dir. George A. Romero & Dario Argento. Written by Franco Ferrini, Peter Koper, George A. Romero, Dario Argento and based on Stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, E.G. Marshall, Harvey Keitel, Tom Atkins, and John

When I wake you . . . You'll be dead.

I'm never quite sure what to make of my fellow horror fan's taste. The casual, mainstream viewer with a taste for the macabre is easy enough to figure, but the seasoned ghoul down in the trenches with the rest of us can sometimes perplex me. They can rattle off dismemberments both foreign and domestic, dig on the artistry of Argento, the dirty surrealism of Fulci, claim to love Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, or Gordon's Castle Freak and then claim Romero's The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar from Two Evil Eyes is boring, amateurish, or saddled with Soap Opera lighting and acting. Perhaps it's all down to mood at the time of first viewing, but for me, if you're in for a penny you're in for a pound which doesn't mean we can't vary in our tastes from one director to another or for that matter within one director's filmography, but for the love of God take the thing, whatever it is, as a whole and don't nitpick it to pieces! Ok, rant over. Few Horror films, even those from our anointed masters are perfect, far from it and if they are - Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I am looking at you - that perfection is often a fluke, a confluence of all things in heaven and hell. Two Evil Eyes is far from perfect, but dammit if it's not a thoroughly ghoulish time waster. The film is an oddity in Horror being neither a feature film, short film or anthology but a double feature of hour-long films based on Poe stories. The first, Romero's is a rather faithful adaptation of the Poe story with the necessary updates to match modern sensibilities and Barbeau gives another great performance that reminds me of her role as Billy in The Crate segment of Romero's Creepshow just a few years before she started hitting the bottle. It is a bit of a slow build with an unsettling idea handled with absolute seriousness and maximum dread, and while I can see some not digging the payoff, I find the final images original in concept and execution, something that goes a long way in me forgiving any shortcomings any film might have. Argento's film, The Black Cat is also rather faithful if also richer with extravagances, as can be expected than Romero's film. Before I go any further let me say that Harvey Keitel really should have been in more Horror films. Maybe it's his tough-guy New York accent that he apparently can't do without that kept him from such things, but he's really great in this and grounds the whole scenario in a sleazy reality that would have been lacking without him. Here, Keitel plays Crime Scene photographer, Rod Usher - wink, wink, introduced to us at the scene of a murder committed by Pendulum, nod, nod - revealed to be the work of the Monomaniac played by effects wizard, Tom Savini. Rod's taste for the macabre eventually gets the better of him when he murders his wife's cat and decides to put a picture of the dead cat on his new book, ya know, like you do when you're a cat murderer. This, of course, leads to a less than cordial relationship with said girlfriend. If you've read the story you won't be surprised where this goes, but if you've never seen an Argento film you might be shocked by how gnarly the violence gets. And if you haven't read the story or seen an Argento film what the hell are you even doing here!

 

 

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