Directed by Dario Argento [Other horror films: L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970), Il gatto a nove code (1971), 4 mosche di velluto grigio (1971), Profondo rosso (1975), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), Tenebre (1982), Phenomena (1985), Opera (1987), Trauma (1993), La sindrome di Stendhal (1996), Il fantasma dell’opera (1998), Non ho sonno (2001), Il cartaio (2003), Ti piace Hitchcock? (2005), La terza madre (2007), Giallo (2009), Dracula 3D (2012), Occhiali neri (2022)] & George A. Romero [Other horror films: Night of the Living Dead (1968), Hungry Wives (1972), The Crazies (1973), The Amusement Park (1975), Martin (1976), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Creepshow (1982), Day of the Dead (1985), Monkey Shines (1988), The Dark Half (1993), Bruiser (2000), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), Survival of the Dead (2009)]
Featuring two Edgar Allan Poe stories directed by two well-respected directors (George A. Romero and Dario Argento), I wish that I could like Two Evil Eyes (as it’s known here) more. As it is, the first story is really enjoyable, but Argento’s addition here just drags, and deeply pulls down my enjoyment of the film overall.
Directed by Romero, the first story is a pretty spooky idea, and has a rather classical feel to it. It felt like one of those stories you might see in a 70’s Amicus anthology (Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, what-have-you), with a great feel for suspense and a solid conclusion.
Argento’s story, based off The Black Cat, just felt off, for lack of a better word. The last six minutes or so were pretty good, if only because it was moderately suspenseful, but the rest of the story just didn’t do it for me. It’s made worse by both the fact that it’s the longer of the two stories (about an hour and three minutes long as opposed to the first story’s fifty-five minutes) and almost none of the performances wowed me, and in fact, the main actor bothered me quite a bit.
The cast for the first story is so much better anyway. Starring Adrienne Barbeau (from such classics as The Fog and Creepshow) and Ramy Zada (who I know only from a segment in 1989’s After Midnight), who work rather well together, this story also has strong performances by Bingo O’Malley, Tom Atkins, and E.G. Marshall. O’Malley isn’t a name I’m familiar with, but Atkins was in such genre classics as The Fog, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Night of the Creeps, and Maniac Cop, and was great to see here. E.G. Marshall hasn’t done much for the horror genre (in fact, this movie aside, he’s only been in two others, 1979’s television movie Vampire and a segment in Creepshow), but was amazing in the 1957 classic 12 Angry Men, and seeing him here was sort of a treat.
The second story, on the other hand, had just one performance I actually liked, being that of John Amos (who, along with being in the second Die Hard, was also in twenty or so episodes of The West Wing), who played a police detective. The star, Harvey Keitel (who I know mostly from Pulp Fiction), had a pretty weak performance here – his character didn’t really make much sense to me, and he seemed all over the place. Both Madeleine Potter and Sally Kirkland were in much the same vein, and I especially didn’t like Kirkland’s esoteric character.
Originally titled Due occhi diabolici (though the film’s in English, it’s an Italian production), Two Evil Eyes had a decent concept, but it didn’t work out, which is a shame. If I could rate the movie off the first story only, it’d be getting a pretty high rating. But as an overall package, Two Evil Eyes isn’t a movie I’d want to see again. My advice is to give the first story a watch, as it truly is pretty good, and just ignore the second.