1990s, BLUE UNDERGROUND, cult, Edgar Allan Poe, film, genre, Horror, https://www.facebook.com/scarletthefilmmagazine/, independent film, monsters, review, SCARLETTHEFILMMAGAZINE.WORDPRESS.COM, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized

TWO EVIL EYES (Blue Underground Blu Ray 3 Disc Limited Edition)

TWO EVIL EYES (Blue Underground 3-disc Ltd Edition Blu-Ray/4K Restoration) $49.99 Special Edition Release Date October 29,2019 Region A.

Original Theatrical release U.S.A. -Taurus Entertainment ,1990.

Color.  120 mins.
https://www.amazon.com/Evil-Eyes-Blu-ray-Harvey-Keitel/dp/B07VGTYMKB/

 

  • Warning -review illustrated with gruesome effects shots. No animals and we suspect few actors were harmed

 

When TWO EVIL EYES came out, George Romero had just worked with a major studio on MONKEY SHINES (Orion,1988) but had a bad experience wherein his work was edited without his permission. *

Argento ‘s last feature OPERA (aka TERROR AT THE OPERA) was a huge success in his native Italy but was denied a theatrical release in the U.S. by Orion, instead letting the small video company Southgate release the film in an R and Unrated version.

The two filmmakers decided to go independent again to retain control of the final product and picked two different Edgar Allan Poe tales to adapt.

 

 


Romero chose “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” (published simultaneously in The American Review and Broadway Journal ,December 1845) . The story had been adapted previously in an Italian short film (Il caso Valdemar,Italy,1936 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3qGwCPKhdI ) as well as segments in the portmanteau films MASTERWORKS OF TERROR (Argentina ,1959, redubbed and released by Jack H Harris as MASTERS OF HORROR ,1965) ,Roger Corman’s TALES OF TERROR (AIP,1962) and on the Spanish horror series Historias para no dormir (Stories to Keep You Awake, Televisión Española 1966). It also is one of the stories in the recent EXTRAORDINARY TALES (Mélusine Productions 2015 ).

a 1969 Japanese Illustration, inspired by TALES OF TERROR

 

The Black Cat by Alphonse Legros 1860

Argento chose “The Black Cat” (first published August 19, 1843 in The Saturday Evening Post). The story has been adapted with varying degrees of faithfulness, starting in 1934 with both Universal’s THE BLACK CAT as well as MANIAC (Roadshow), Universal again in 1941, AIP’s TALES OF TERROR again, the 1966 THE BLACK CAT (Falcon) ,Lucio Fulci’s 1981 version(Italian Int.) and recently a marvelous independent short in 2012 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKN_I6ouswg .

 

The film :

Warning -turn your sound down for the opening credits of Pino Donaggio’s dissonant title theme.


The film opens with a succession of quick shots of Edgar Allan Poe’s statue, one of the great author’s home and burial plot, as a narrator intones: “To Edgar Allan Poe, whose stories have inspired this motion picture.”

 

We then immediately go to

THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR (screenplay by Romero ; Dir of Photography  Peter Reniers, who has worked on such television series as LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, Dick Wolf /Universal ,1999- ).


Jessica Valdemar (Adrienne Barbeau, returning to work with Romero again after CREEPSHOW, Laurel/WB ,1982) is hoping to inherit the money from her mortally ill husband Ernest (the wonderfully named Bingo O’Malley ,who also appeared in CREEPSHOW, and sadly in real life passed away June 2 ,2019).

 

To that extent, she gets Dr Robert Hoffman (Ramy Zada, tv’s DARK JUSTICE, Lorrimar,1991) to hypnotize the sickly Ernest to better control him. Dr Hoffman is most willing to do so, partly from a past relationship with Jessica, and partly from the desire to share in the millions that she will inherit. The problem is that Jessica has been taking money from Ernest’s account, so much so that if anything were to happen to her husband over the next three weeks, the police will surely investigate the wife.

E.G. Marshall as a lawyer warning Barbeau

Of course, Ernest dies, and the pair dump his body into a basement freezer. During the night she hears moaning and discovers that due to the hypnosis, the spirit of her dead husband is trapped between worlds, and that other entities wish to use his corpse to enter our sphere!

 

THE BLACK CAT (Screenplay by Argento & Franco Ferrini, who worked together on OPERA ; director of Photography Beppe Maccari, who was the camera operator on the Visconti classic THE LEOPARD, Titanus 1963)-
Argento’s take on the famous tale is a delirious and trippy over the top gorefest that references several other Poe tales.

Keitel in a Corman-like dream sequence with an Argento touch

 

 

Rod Usher (Harvey Keitel, TAXI DRIVER, Columbia,1976) is a police crime scene photographer who we first meet when he is taking pictures at a murder scene. This killing  was a bit extraordinary, since it is a scene of a nude women bifurcated by a huge pendulum blade. To Usher, it is just work as usual, and he tries to frame the scenes with a sense of aesthetics that belie the horror of the scene.

 

At home, his girlfriend Annabel (Madeline Potter ,THE SUICIDE CLUB, Angelika Films ,1988) has brought in a black cat that Rod takes an instant dislike to. This mutual hatred comes to its zenith when Rod viciously and cruelly strangles the animal during a photo shoot. Rod, however, in a sort of A BUCKET OF BLOOD (AIP,1959) moment, decides that the murder deserves to be the over of his newest photo collection.

Sally Kirkland has a new kitty for Rod .

When Annabel sees the cover some time later in a store window, she realizes what has happened, and rushes home to confront Rod. Rod , in the interim , has been given a cat that is identical to the one he killed ).He takes the animal home to destroy it once and for all, but Annabel comes home ,saves the creature but she herself is killed gruesomely.

Rod conceals the body behind the wall, but suspicion continues to grow against him, resulting in more murders and gore before Rod receives poetic justice.

John Amos as a detective who grows suspicious of Usher

 

A huge title assures us that none of the animals were harmed in the making of the film as the picture’s end credits roll.

The film, which reportedly cost over $ 9 million to make,  opened in only 150 theatres throughout the U.S. for just one week, taking in only $349,000.

 

It was released on VHS through various companies (Anchor Bay, budget label Video Treasures) as well as DVD and Blu Ray previously by Blue Underground.

Now , Blue Underground has gone back to the original camera negatives and given it a 4K 1080p restoration. The colors, especially in the Argento segment, really seem to jump out.

 

Martin Balsam  & Kim Hunter,Spanish Lobby Card

The audio is available in either English: 7.1 DTS-HD, or to duplicate the theatrical release sound, English: 2.0 DTS-HD (or in French: Dolby Digital Mono). Again, watch that opening bit of music in the beginning!
Optional subtitles are English SDH, French or Spanish.

Where this becomes the must have edition of TWO EVIL EYES is the immense number of extras, some ported over from BLUE UNDERGROUND’s previous release of the title, but many brands new and exclusive to this limited edition.

Extras include

Disc One Blu Ray- a brand new audio commentary by Troy Howarth (author of the upcoming book “Murder By Design: The Unsane Cinema of Dario Argento “). Troy has done audio commentaries on other Blu ray releases, and his love and well researched talks always have the feel of a well-informed fan joyfully sharing his thoughts and insights throughout the running time of a film, and this one is no different.

Theatrical Trailer

Poster & Still Gallery

Disc 2 Blu Ray
Two Masters’ Eyes – Interviews with Directors Dario Argento & George Romero, Special Make-Up Effects Supervisor Tom Savini, Executive Producer Claudio Argento, and Asia Argento. These are ported over from the 2003 Blue Underground 2-disc Blu Ray release.

Savini as a Poe like character who digs up corpses to steal teeth.Or is it just his character from THE RIPPER (United Ent.,1985 ) reprised?

Savini’s EFX – A Behind-the-Scenes look at the film’s Special Make-Up Effects. Also, from the 2003 release, Savini takes us on a behind the scene tour of how some of the effects work was done.

At Home With Tom Savini – A personal tour of Tom Savini’s home. From 2003, this segment is not only a master of his craft but also a fan sharing with fellow fans.

Adrienne Barbeau on George Romero.- From 2003. The still lovely and charming actress shares her thoughts about working with the director.

Tom Atkins makes a horrific discovery

 

NEW! Before I Wake – Interview with Star Ramy Zada. The actor talks about his career and working with Romero.

NEW! Behind The Wall – Interview with Star Madeleine Potter. The very busy actress, who shuttles back and forth from the U.S. and London to perform, talks about Harvey, Dario and cats.

NEW! One Maestro And Two Masters – Interview with Composer Pino Donaggio. Subtitled. The composer talks about his career

NEW! Rewriting Poe – Interview with Co-Writer Franco Ferrini, who has often worked with director Argento, as well as upon the screenplay ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (W.B.,1984) .

NEW! The Cat Who Wouldn’t Die – Interview with Assistant Director Luigi Cozzi (who also directed the cult hit STAR CRASH, New World, 1978).

 

NEW! Two Evil Brothers – Interview with Special Make-Up Assistant Everett Burrell (who has worked with Savini several times, as well as Greg Cannom, and Kevin Yagher.).

NEW! Working With George – Interview with Costume Designer Barbara Anderson who worked with Romero from KNIGHTRIDERS (Laurel/UFD, 1981) up to THE DARK HALF .

Finally,

Disc 3-A CD of Pino Dinaggio’s score. This alone might be enough for some to wish to buy this collection, as this soundtrack it seems has never been issued legitimately before. It is a sharp moody score, which fits the film perfectly, but many pieces can be listened to and enjoyed on their own.

 

Adding to the welcome extras is an informative booklet by Michael Gingold, who was one of the guiding forces of Fangoria magazine from 1990 (when the film came out) until 2015.

Fango #95 ,which covered the film 

 

Once again, BLUE UNDERGROUND has put to shame many major studios Blu Ray releases, due to the care and multiple goodies adding entertainment, value and collectability for horror film lovers.

RECOMMENDED
For fans of
ROMERO
ARGENTO
EDGAR ALLAN POE
BLU RAY EXTRAS!

-Kevin G Shinnick

*-right after filming TWO EVIL EYES, he worked upon THE DARK HALF for Orion, which sat on a shelf for two years.

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1990s, Argento, Blu Ray, cult, fantasy, film, genre, Horror, international, Italian, nudity, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, wax museum, wierd

WAX MASK (blu ray)

7737_tnTHE WAX MASK(aka M.D.C. – Maschera di cera ,Italian 1997) (Blu Ray) release date Jan 31st,,2017 by One 7 Movies .$29.95 .color 94 minutes.      https://www.amazon.com/Wax-Mask-Blu-ray-Robert-Hossein/dp/B01N40CACQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1485396004&sr=1-1&keywords=wax+mask

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THE WAX MASK is a wonderful throwback to the Italian Gothic Horrors of the 1960s, mixed in with considerably more graphic gore and nudity as was more permissible in 1997 when this film was made.

1999: DARIO ARGENTO, FILM DIRECTOR

                       DARIO ARGENTO

Dario Argento, the reigning king of Euro Horror ,had tried for a year to raise funds to produce a film to be directed by Lucio Fulci. Fulci , who had his own niche in gory Italian horror (ZOMBI 2, aka ZOMBIE ,1979) ,had fallen out favor ,due to lending his name to projects that he was not involved with ,as well as Fulci being ill at various times from the early 1980s .

 

At first, they had thought of an update of THE MUMMY (Universal,1932) before deciding on a semi remake of HOUSE OF WAX(WB,1953, itself a remake of the 1933 WB classic MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM) .Fulci wrote a screenplay ,but more delays occurred due to Argento’s THE STENDAHL SYNDROME (1996.)

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 Mystery Of The Wax Museum (WB ,1933)
Fulci passed away March 13,1996 from diabetes . Argento had the script reworked by Daniele Stroppa (who had worked on the screenplays for two of Fulci’s later films ,HOUSE OF CLOCKS(1989) and VOICE FROM BEYOND (1991) .How much the scripts  vary is unknown by this reviewer .
However ,to quote an interview with Massimo F Lavagnini (printed in DRACULINA # 24)
Fulci said:

lucio-fulci

 

…. I think we start shooting in September. About the story, I can say it isn’t a carbon copy of the original HOUSE OF WAX, which obviously inspired us. Our story is settled in 1915 in Torino. The protagonist is a frustrated artist who kills and becomes a monster, because of the faults of society. …………..We have seven or eight ultra-violent scenes . *

 

 

 

Sergio Stivaletti, who had handled effects for Argento on PHENOMENA(1985,aka Creepers) ,OPERA(1987) and THE STENDAHL SYNDROME, as well as DEMONS(1985) and CEMETERY MAN (1994),stepped into the director’s chair . Having directed second unit for Argento, Bava, and Soavi, he had picked up a few pointers on how to director horror with style. Supposedly, Stivaletti, who had been preparing the films effects, had only two weeks’ prep time. If so, it makes the film even more impressive.

dir-in-1996

The film opens December 31,1900 in Paris (why does every room in Paris seem to look out upon the Eiffel Tower in movies?). However, the new year brings the discovery of a gruesome double homicide, and the police find that the only witness is a frightened 12 year old girl.the-wax-mask-1

 

The film then jumps 12 years ahead to Rome. At a brothel, Luca (Daniele Auber, who also works in effects, later winning an Emmy in 2002 for Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Prosthetic)) bets others there that he can spend the night in a newly opened Wax Museum which recreates some of history’s most notorious killings. The idea of spending the night in a spooky place seems to be lifted from CASTLE OF BLOOD(DANZA MACABRA,1964),showing that the filmmakers know their classic horror films. Sadly, it does not end well for Luca,who supposedly dies frightened to death.

the-wax-mask-2
Museum owner Boris Volkoff (the name a nod to Boris Karloff?)(portrayed by French actor Robert Hossein (THE BURGLARS/Le Casse,Columbia 1971)plans a series of new exhibits to exploit the press that the unfortunate death brings to the museum .

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Volkoff, however, has a dark secret -he and his assistant Alex (Umberto Balli,who seems to have only done one other film)are creating their lifelike figures by capturing people and then injecting them to keep them alive and immobile under the wax!

the-wax-mask-6

Volkoff hires Sonia (Romina Mondello, later in Harry Alan TowersDEATH, DECEIT, & DESTINY ABOARD THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2001)) to create costumes for the figures. Sonia however, happens to be young girl from the film’s opening, and the violent tableaux’s bring buried memories of her parents murder back. Luckily , Inspector Lavin (Aldo Massasso,later in Argento’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1998) and SLEEPLESS( Non ho sonno ,2001))who had investigated the murders of Sonia’s parents is in Rome . With the help of Andrea( Riccardo Serventi Longhi,who appeared in the t.v. film CAVE OF THE GOLDEN ROSE 4 aka Fantaghio 4,1994,for Lamberto Bava) they start to see if they can uncover the mystery of the wax museum .

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The ending is wildly delirious, and lurches into TERMINATOR (Hemdale,1984) territory. Up to then ,however, it is a gory tribute to older horror films with some marvelous effects (though the early CGI, in particular, the fire effects ,were not effective even when the film first came out).

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Reviews were for the most part positive  like this one :

(Variety April 20, 1997 )
Gothic horror is alive and kicking in “Wax Mask,” a luridly entertaining return to the style of Britain’s Hammer productions of the ’60s)

 

and the film appears to have done decent business throughout most of the world, but only garnering a token home video release via Image Entertainment a few years later.mv5bmje1odeyodc0ov5bml5banbnxkftztcwnde1mdkymq-_v1_uy268_cr60182268_al_
The French-Italian co-production looks stunning. From costumes to set designs, the film looks so much more expensive than it’s reported $1.25 million budget (though some estimates put it as high as $3 million). Adding to the sweep and grandeur is the magnificent orchestral score( with choir ) by Maurizio Abeni (who would also compose for Stivaletti’s THE THREE FACES OF TERROR (I tre volti del terrore,2004 ) . The English dubbing is good ,though some of the dialogue is a bit clunky.

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The original VHS/DVD releases back in 2000 had very muddy colors and a dark print ,and though Dolby mixed the sound was very flat .

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Now One 7 Movies (whose DVD release of JESTER’S SUPPER we reviewed back in 2015 https://www.facebook.com/SCARLETreviews/posts/1584658468439774 ) have released WAX MASK in a glorious 1080p version in 1.85.1 (original aspect ratio) blu ray .The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound really lets the score fill your room ,and the sound effects are quite effective. Most impressive are the truly vibrant and rich colors and the clean almost three dimensional photography by Sergio Salvati (who shot many of Fulci’s as well as many Empire films produced by Charles Band). I cannot say how marvelous the transfer is and it puts many a major studios release to shame.
Extras on the disc includewax-mask-00-jpgcgi
Backstage Scenes– some raw video behind the scene footage shot during the making of the film . It is a fun look at the cast and crew working and relaxing during the production. In Italian.

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Special Effects Scenes– the effects team working on the practical on set effects used throughout the film .At one point they get a package from Tom Savini ,and look through his makeup book GRAND ILLUSIONS(Imagine,1983).Producer Argento watches fascinated as they test a mechanical robot arm . In Italian .

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If you are a fan of Italian Horror, this is a must get disc for you. Many fans may have head of the film but up to now may never have seen it. Now is your chance to scoop this film up.
Recommended!

-Kevin G Shinnick

*- DRACULINA issue 24 appears to be sold out but you can always see if some valuable issues turn up by visiting http://www.draculina.com/draculina2.htmldraculina-24

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