Plot: What’s it about?
In The Facts in the Case of Mr. Waldemar, a woman watches as her older husband lies on his deathbed, but she watches with sinister intentions. Jessica (Adrienne Barbeau) has enlisted the help of her former lover, Dr. Robert Hoffman (Ramy Zada) in order to gain access to her ill husband’s vast riches. But as he wouldn’t agree to hand over millions to his ungrateful wife, she has Hoffman work in alternative ways to persuade him. Hoffman hypnotizes the husband, allowing him to speak, but only when prompted to do so. Hoffman also orders him to sign important documents, ones that turn over immense amounts of cash to his wife. She has some doubts about leaving her husband in the hypnotic state however, even if it does spare him some pain. But when things take a turn for the worse, will these two do whatever it takes to get the riches, even if it means facing supernatural dangers? In The Black Cat, a crime scene photographer named Roderick Usher (Harvey Keitel) battles alcohol, a tattered relationship with his girlfriend, and a black cat that seems to always be around, no matter what. He dislikes the cat from the start, but even when he kills the feline, it returns and starts to drive him insane. Can he rid himself of this persistent pussycat, or will it push him over the edge to extreme violence?
As this movie features the tandem direction of George Romero and Dario Argento, you’d think it would be an instant horror classic. In addition to the talented behind the camera, we even have stars like Adrienne Barbeau, Harvey Keitel, Martin Balsam, Sally Kirkland, and John Amos, not to mention special make-up effects by Tom Savini. In other words, this movie was drenched in talent and while the end result is not a genre classic, Two Evil Eyes is a well made, enjoyable slice of horror cinema madness. Argento’s half, The Black Cat is the better of the two, thanks to some incredible visuals, great gore effects, and a good performance by Keitel. He has a real imbalance here and plays it full tilt, which adds a lot of menace to his effort. I think the blood & guts makes this one a little better also, as The Facts in the Case of Mr. Waldemar is short on shocks, until the final reel begins to roll us into sheer terror. Yes, the noises are a little corny at times, but the final sequences are terrific and add some bang to the experience. The Black Cat has more chills and cooler atmosphere, but both are solid pieces. And when you put them both together, Two Evil Eyes turns out to be creepy, fun double dose of horror. As such, I am able to recommend this limited edition release to genre fans, as the movie and presentation are well crafted.
If nothing else, Two Evil Eyes is worth a look just to see Harvey Keitel face off with one tough as nails feline. Yes, Keitel goes head to head with a hard to kill cat and uses all kinds of methods to eliminate the creature. He chokes it out and takes photos as it happens, but that’s just the start and let’s just say that the cat has a final jab on old Harvey, one that it isn’t pretty and provides a solid close to the picture. As expected, Keitel gives a solid effort here and it is cool to see him in horror cinema, to be sure. He often takes on darker roles, but he doesn’t go into true horror movies too much and that’s a shame. Keitel is able to bring a kind of inner darkness and quiet terror to his characters, which is something the right horror filmmakers could put to excellent use. His role here is eerie and over the edge, but has a more sinister side that Keitel usually takes on, though he has played ample psychos in the past. Other films with Keitel include Reservoir Dogs, City of Industry, Smoke, Bad Lieutenant, The Piano, and Taxi Driver. The cast also includes Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing, The Fog), John Amos (The Beastmaster, American Flyers), and Sally Kirkland (Big Bad Mama, Candy Stripe Nurses).
Video: How does it look?
Two Evil Eyes is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. As per usual, Blue Underground has supplied a great visual effort and fans will be quite pleased. A small amount of grain can be seen at times and a minute level of print wear is evident, but this is the cleanest version ever released to home video, hands down. As such, the contrast is smooth and stark, with refined and accurate black levels throughout. The colors look good too, so hues come off as rich and bold, while flesh tones appear natural in scope. A terrific presentation that shows minimal signs of wear & tear, this is truly some great work.
Audio: How does it sound?
I was kind of surprised here, as Blue Underground has created new soundtracks here, with Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS ES options present. I mean, most big studio blockbusters don’t have this kind of audio treatment, but this horror movie from an independent label does, which speaks volumes about Blue Underground, without question. And these mixes aren’t weak either, as there is ample surround presence and both tracks are terrific. The surrounds are worked throughout, to enhance atmosphere and drive home chills, including some excellent bass presence, which adds some extra kick to the material. The music is clean and immersive also, while dialogue sounds clean as can be, a great overall presentation. The material isn’t bothered by hiss or distortion either, so no need to worry about those kind of problems here. This release also includes a 2.0 surround option, in case that better suits your needs.
Supplements: What are the extras?
On the first disc, you’ll find some talent files, a selection of poster artwork & still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer. The second disc houses the rest of the supplements, such as Two Masters’ Eyes, a new collection of interviews with George Romero, Dario Argento, Tom Savini, and others. The piece runs about half an hour and has some terrific interviews, which have been edited to create an informative, but also entertaining experience. An additional interview with Adrienne Barbeau interview is also found here, which is a more vintage piece that was shot for the Document of the Dead project. This release also includes two featurettes about Savini’s special effects, both of which are well worth a look.