The Evil (1978)
Directed by Gus Trikonis
Cast: Richard Crenna, Joanna Petiet, Andrew Prine, Victor Buono
Region 1 / Rated R / 1.85:1 / 89 minutes
Special Features: Commentary with director Gus Trikonis, writer Donald Thompson, and director of photography Mario Di Leo / Trailers
Twice Dead (1988)
Directed by Bert Dragin
Cast: Tom Bresnahan, Jill Whitlow, Jonathan Chapin, Christopher Burgard, Sam Melville, Brooke Bundy, Joleen Lutz, Todd Bridges
Region 1 / Rated R / 1.85:1 / 85 minutes
Special Features: Audio Commentary with Director Bert Dragin and Actor Tom Bresnahan / Interview with actress Jill Whitlow / Trailers
I’m a child of the digital age, so as far as obscure or forgotten horror movies go, this is the best time to be a fan boy. Case in point, the DVD release of Roger Corman’s Double Feature The Evil and Twice Dead. Both films share a haunted house theme, but that’s about the only thing these two films really have in common. So does that mean one movie is a dip in quality over the next, or do they both suck? Rest assured, watching this as a double feature will pay high dividends.
The Evil is more like a traditional haunted house movie using mood and tension over gory set pieces. The plot’s as simple as you can get: A doorway that traps evil is unlocked, and those trapped in the house must lock it again or they will die. It’s Amityville inspired and a tad formulaic, yet it still packs a fun punch. Twice Dead takes the haunted house theme and immerses it in over-the-top ’80s cheese. It’s amazing how Twice Dead changes gears throughout each act. At one point, it’s a haunted house story. Then it’s a comedy when two clean cut high school kids face off with a ridiculously over-the-top street gang. And then there’s the grizzly final act, what builds up to a descent ghostly bloodbath. This one’s easily the better of the two films.
On a lesser note, both films share twist endings that may be considered lame, The Evil throwing out something way out of leftfield that lessens the impact of what it was building up to, while Twice Dead just couldn’t decide on a strong final word. But this is a small gripe considering how much fun these movies are if your goal is to simply have a good time.
Shout Factory breaks its back to serve us a quality presentation. Both movies feature informative commentary tracks, decent widescreen transfers, and wonderful packaging and liner notes. The rest of the extras prove to be generous, considering these films don’t have a strong cult following, but they deserve one, especially Twice Dead. I look forward to future releases from this company, but in the meantime, pick up Roger Corman’s double feature The Evil and Twice Dead. You’ll more than likely enjoy yourself.