'Two Evil Eyes' borrows from Poe stories but it's still an awful sight

On movies

December 10, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

''Two Evil Eyes'' equal one really bad movie.

The people who made the film were apparently aware of this because they shelved the movie for four years; the copyright date is 1987.

They should have shelved the film forever, put it on ice, though it is most unlikely that there is enough ice in this entire world to subdue the odor from this one.

The only interesting thing about the movie is the opening shot, of the Poe House here in Baltimore. That's because this two-in-one film is allegedly based on that many stories by Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe could be doing a swift turn in his grave. Both stories are far removed from the source.

George Romero and Dario Argento did the film. Romero did thefirst segment, Argento, the second. Romero is an American horror-film king who does most of his work in Pittsburgh. Argento is an Italian horror-film king who does most of his work in Italy.

In this case, they seem to have done both their segments in Pittsburgh, and if the city fathers chose to complain, they have every right.

The first segment, based on Poe's ''The Curious Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar,'' has Adrienne Barbeau playing a younger woman who is defrauding her older husband, who is lying in his bedroom, comatose.

A young doctor is in on all this with the wife. He somehow hypnotizes the unconscious man, who does their bidding, like sign a few statements that will allow the couple to take all the man's money.

When the old guy dies, his wife and her lover put the man on ice, downstairs, in the freezer. If the authorities learn that he is dead, the wife and her boyfriend lose the money.

Of course, the old guy won't shut up. He's dead, but he keeps talking, so the wife shoots him through the head. Well, you know Romero. Sure as Dorothy got to Kansas, we know the dead man is going to return with all his dead friends, because Romero has never been able to put those ''Living Dead'' movies behind him.

In the second segment, Harvey Keitel is a crime photographer who kills his wife and cat, then kills another cat. In the end, he kills the two cops who appear at his home, then through machinations too silly to relate, manages to accidentally hang himself.

He should have done this five minutes into the film. That's all it is worth. Both segments are basically pointless exercises in gore. They are no more than simple invitations to enjoy the thrill of the kill. You can't do this at home, so why not do it with us?

The people who make these films become a little miffed when reporters ask them what kind of childhoods they had. The question, however, bears repeating in this instance. What kind of childhoods did these men have?

''Two Evil Eyes'' is doubly horrifying because it employs the talents of people like Keitel, Martin Balsam, Sally Kirkwood and Kim Hunter.

Kim Hunter! This woman actually holds a supporting-actress Oscar (for the 1951 ''Streetcar Named Desire''). Isn't it better not to do anything than do movies like this?

''Two Evil Eyes''

(NO STARS): A two-in-one film based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe.

CAST: Adrienne Barbeau, Ramy Zady, Harvey Keitel, Kim Hunter, Martin Balsam, Sally Kirkwood

DIRECTORS: George Romero, Dario Argento

RATING: R (language, violence)

RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes

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