1 item from 1991
The talented horror veterans George Romero and Dario Argento each contribute an adaptation of an Edgar Alan Poe story to the feature-length ''Two Evil Eyes.'' Although the results are not the best of either filmmaker's work, each manages to bend his material to his own ghoulish taste, and the outcome makes for an entertaining outing. Boxoffice prospects, if not overwhelming, should be similarly -- and seasonally -- satisfactory.
Romero has updated ''The Curious Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar, '' Poe's tale of a man who remains under hypnosis after he is dead. Valdemar (Bingo O'Malley) is a rich recluse whose estate is looted by his wife, Jessica (Adrienne Barbeau), as he lies on his deathbed.
Jessica and her lover, Dr. Robert Hoffman (Ramy Zada), have hypnotized The Old Man into signing away his millions. But after he dies and is stored away in a basement freezer, Valdemar begins moaning about beings on the other side who wish to use him to cross over.
Like his ''Creepshow'' screen anecdotes, Romero's 55-minute tale leans mightily on a twist ending, but the filmmaker also manages, in his portrayal of the hateful bickering between Jessica and the doctor, to interject his familiar musings on the relative merits of the living and the dead.
Poe's ''The Black Cat'' is about a man who walls up a hated feline with the remains of his murdered wife, but the subject seems to be insufficiently gory for Italian horror maestro Argento. He turns his protagonist, Rod Usher (Harvey Keitel), into a crime photographer specializing in gruesome killings. This permits him to begin his 65-minute sequence with a shot of the bisected corpse of a naked woman, thus keeping his bloodthirst in check for most of the action.
Argento marshals his usual collection of Steadicam and oddball point-of-view shots, so we get to view the action not just from a cat's perspective, but also from that of a corpse about to be plunged into a bath. The camera thus adorns the story of a man driven wild by a malevolent cat and the fearful fantasies it inspires about his violin-teaching, live-in girlfriend Annabelle (Madeleine Potter).
The latter provides the opportunity for the resourceful Argento to stage a dream sequence about a medieval auto-da-fe, and it is this sense of elegant excess that, as with any Argento exercise, gives the film its vitality.
The print screened at a local theater for purposes of this review was in bad enough shape to make a judgment on cinematography impossible, and the sound mix in general was a little ragged. However, this Pittsburgh-lensed production did not lack for atmospheric sets, and the makeup effects by Tom Savini Ltd., though closely rationed, were up to, if you'll pardon the expression, snuff.
TWO EVIL EYES
A Heron Communications Presentation of a ADC/Gruppo Bema Production
Producers Achille Manzotti, Dario Argento
Music Pino Donaggio
THE CURIOUS FACTS IN THE CASE OF MR. VALDEMAR
Writer-director George Romero
Director of photography Peter Reniers
Starring: Bingo O'Malley, Adrienne Barbeau, Ramy Zada
THE BLACK CAT
Director Dario Argento
Writers Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini
Director of photography Beppe Maccari
Starring: Harvey Keitel, Madeleine Potter
Running time -- 120 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
(c) The Hollywood Reporter
1 item from 1991
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