Two Evil Eyes (1990) (Also known as Due Occhio Diabolici)
Written By: Angela DiLella
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Dario Argento, George Romero
Producer: Achille Manzotti
Writer: Dario Argento, George Romero, et. al.
Date Released: January 25, 1990 (Italy)
Adrienne Barbeau as Jessica Valdemar
Ramy Zada as Dr. Robert Hoffman
Harvey Keitel as Roderick Usher
Madeleine Potter as Annabel
Rating = 3/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
George Romero and Dario Argento team up to present an anthology of two tales. The first tale is called The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar and was directed my George Romero. This short story is about an elderly man who died while under hypnosis but becomes a medium for vengeful spirits. The second tale is called The Black Cat and is directed by Dario Argento. This tale is about a photographer who is driven into a murderous rage over cats.
For the most part, the gore is muted, especially for a George Romero/Dario Argento joint venture, particularly in the second anthologized story. The second story is a modernized adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat,” so cat lovers may want to steer clear as there are some acts of violence against the cats.
The Grave Review
This anthology film adapts the Edgar Allan Poe stories “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” and “The Black Cat” for a modern audience, and some creative license. “M. Valdemar” takes the Victorian concept of mesmerism and turns it into a trendy eighties hypnotism therapy. Valdemar (Bingo O’Malley) dies while under hypnosis, which allows his body to become possessed by evil spirits who wish to harm Valdemar’s wife (Adrienne Barbeau) and allows George Romero to take the story in his traditional zombie route. “The Black Cat” sees a man’s (Harvey Keitel) obsessive hatred for cats go from animal murder to human murder. Ultimately, with both segments, the director’s stamp on the tale is extremely clear, with Argento’s segment (“The Black Cat”) being more recognizable as a take on a famous Poe story.
On the whole, the cast isn’t lacking; there is really only one actor who seemed to give an inconsistent performance in the entire film. Ramy Zada, who plays a secondary character in the first segment, plays his character like he’s still trying to figure him out—down to the very intonation and speech patterns of the character. During the slow parts of “M. Valdemar,” it’s distracting, though Adrienne Rich is mostly able to cover for him, and he manages to get it together for the climax. Everyone feels a little off kilter in “The Black Cat,” but not in a way that suggests the cast is lacking, rather in a way that suggests the world is tottering on its edge. That is to say, a hallmark of Dario Argento movies.
It seemed surprising to me that a joint project consisting of Dario Argento and George Romero could slip between the cracks as Two Evil Eyes has, but after watching it, I think I can understand how it could have happened. The movie is by no means bad, it’s entertaining and a worthy addition to the library of fans of either or both directors. However, each segment is almost entirely separate from the other with no framing narrative (there is a slight overlap in minor characters) and seemingly not too much collaboration. Neither director really steps outside of their comfort zones (even when Argento gets weird, it’s mostly his specific brand of weird), so you will get to indulge, but very likely when you watch the segment by the director you don’t have preference for, you’ll be disappointed that they’re doing whatever they do again. While I enjoyed “M. Valdemar,” the second the corpse got up, I wasn’t shocked or scared, I was more thinking about how of course there would be a zombie. Naturally, that was the Romero segment. At the same time, during “The Black Cat,” I got to indulge in the Argento hallmarks I appreciate and look forward to (plus a favorite Poe story), while I am sure that someone who prefers Romero would have a similar critical comment to make about the bizarre dream sequence, the off-kilter reality, or something else that Argento is well-known for.
Although I think a fan of either or both directors will enjoy this one, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to someone new to either director because it just doesn’t have the power that their hits generally command. Another disappointment is the fact that either director gave the film any effort to come together in the end. Despite the film’s imperfections, Two Evil Eyes is certainly horror comfort food for longtime fans.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Two Evil Eyes (1990) three graves out of five graves.
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