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John’s Horror Corner: Two Evil Eyes (1990), a gnarly two-story horror anthology based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe.

June 19, 2021

MY CALL: With only two stories to tell and no connective tissue between them, if you want a great horror anthology this may not be it. However, if you are a fan of gory Italian stylings and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat then this is most definitely for you! MORE HORROR ANTHOLOGIES: Dead of Night (1945), Black Sabbath (1963), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973), The Uncanny (1977), Screams of a Winter Night (1979), Creepshow (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985), Deadtime Stories (1986), Creepshow 2 (1987), From a Whisper to a Scream (1987; aka The Offspring), After Midnight (1989), Tales from the Crypt Season 1 (1989), Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Grimm Prairie Tales (1990), The Willies (1990), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Campfire Tales (1997), Dark Tales of Japan (2004), 3 Extremes (2004), Creepshow 3 (2006), Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Chillerama (2011), Little Deaths (2011), V/H/S (2012), The Theater Bizarre (2012), The ABCs of Death (2013), V/H/S 2 (2013), All Hallows’ Eve (2013), The Profane Exhibit (2013), The ABCs of Death 2 (2014), V/H/S Viral (2014), Southbound (2015), Tales of Halloween (2015), A Christmas Horror Story (2015), The ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016), Holidays (2016), Terrified (2017; aka Aterrados, a pseudo-anthology), Oats Studios, Vol. 1 (2017), Ghost Stories (2017), XX (2017), All the Creatures Were Stirring (2018), The Field Guide to Evil (2018), Shudder’s series Creepshow (2019-2020), Scare Package (2019), The Mortuary Collection (2019) and Xenophobia (2019).

Based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe, this gnarly little two-story “anthology” presented by legendary horror directors has two unlinked stories that play out like a mini double feature. So if you were hoping for one story leading into another or some manner of rich, storytelling interstitial tissue to link the fates of the two stories’ characters, you’ll find none of that here. There is no wraparound story. This is simply two well-made half-feature length films…

The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar

This has all the makings of a daytime soap opera. Barbeau plays the much younger wife of an ailing wealthy man whose will is brought into question by those who suspect she only ever married for his money. Meanwhile, her adulterous lover (and concierge doctor to her husband) finds he can no longer trust her either. Things get interesting when Mr. Valdemar dies before they can squander his wealth. He dies, but he continues to call to her from the dead, and this slowly drives Jessica mad.

No shock that he’d be handling the zombie-ish installment of this double feature, director George A. Romero (Monkey Shines, Dawn of the Dead, Knightriders, Creepshow) delivers something that feels very much like an episode from Tales from the Crypt  (1989-1996). It’s perfectly enjoyable, but not something I’d ever feel the desire to revisit; a nice single serving anthology segment.

The Black Cat

Poe’s tale of The Black Cat has been told on film several times and already twice by Italian filmmakers: The Black Cat (1981; Gatto nero), The Black Cat (1989) and Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990). For this third Italian iteration, director Dario Argento (Inferno, Phenomena, Suspiria, Mother of Tears) takes a considerably meaner and more edgy approach.

At the crime scene of a woman sliced in half like something out of a Saw movie, we meet a photographer (Harvey Keitel) who is called to cover the most macabre murders. He is one day visited by a stray black cat that his girlfriend brings into their home. As his girlfriend becomes increasing fond of the animal, he increasingly loathes it. Making him ever more jealous, he enjoys antagonizing the cat and he makes photographic art of its death. When he tries to kill the animal, his girlfriend intervenes and he kills her and plasters her into the wall.

The finale here is a sight I’ve recalled clearly in my mind since I first saw it 30 years ago: a litter of hairless, monstrous kittens eating the rotting cadaver of a woman, with portions of her face and midsection altogether missing from their feeding. Despite not being the greatest film, this VERY gory scene packed some serious impact.

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With so many interesting anthologies out there, this would be recommended more for its inclusion of two major masters of horror and, very specifically, a great telling of The Black Cat which I consider only to be bested by Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990). So if you were on the fence, there’s your reason to watch this.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2021 11:53 pm

    Loved reading this. First, Barbeau in Facts, what a memory! Though she’ll never top her roles as Alice in Swamp Thing and of course Maggie in Escape from New York. I enjoyed reading about the Black Cat, one of my favorite Poe stories, and it brings back memories too. In 6th grade we studied Poe so my mom let me pick up a cassette tape from the library with Vincent Price reading The Raven and The Black Cat. I still get chills. Price and Poe!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      July 30, 2021 8:07 pm

      Ah yes, she was an early on-screen crush for me with those… assets of hers. 😉

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