3 master horror writers, 3 major horror directors, yet both of these movies draw out forgettable tales that would have worked better had they been shorter…which would have allowed each movie to squeeze in a third story!
TWO EVIL EYES (1990)
Sounds hellicious—George Romero and Dario Argento each takes on a classic Edgar Allan Poe tale. But at this point in time, even though the source material has inspired centuries of knockoff plots, the stories end up feeling completely derivative of other popular horror celluloid. They’re also a bit too drawn out for the simplistic plots. This 2-tale anthology runs TWO HOURS long!!!
The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar – Romero directs a tale of a woman, her hot lover, their plot to get her old, rich, dying husband’s money, and the geezer’s revenge from beyond the grave.
Sounds really familiar, right? Didn’t I just blog about a story like this in my Trilogy of Terror blog? Why yes, I did. It’s been done over and over again with minor alterations.
The cool twist this time is that they use hypnotism to make the old man hook them up with the money, which sort of affects his state of existence once he’s dead.
Adrienne Barbeau is always a treat, her lover is the sexy professor from the anthology After Midnight, and the return of the old man’s corpse is classic horror as he roams the shadowy house during a thunder and lightning storm.
Tom Atkins even makes a short appearance as a detective investigating the situation, but his final scenes sort of take the story too far.
The Black Cat – This story is not to be confused with the Stephen King story “Cat from Hell”…directed by George Romero in the Tales from the Darkside movie.
Argento definitely brings his brand of gruesome gore and “what the fuck is going on” to this updated Poe adaptation. He also incorporates key elements of various Poe classics into the plot to add some novel interest.
Harvey Keitel is a photographer. His woman has a black cat he hates. He’s awful to the cat (I did not like this part at all). The cat disappears and she believes he did something to it…
The longer of the two tales, this is virtually a full-length film, which is a bit excessive for a man vs. cat story. That’s why we get weird shit like Harvey being executed (gruesomely) in a “witch trial” sequence. It’s the type of stuff that makes Argento films oddly engrossing even if they’re weird as hell.
And just like the first tale, after the general zinger ending…the film keeps going! This time, the detective is played by Good Times daddy John Amos.
It definitely offers a twist to this otherwise predictable plot, yet it still feels a little over the top. But then again, it’s sooooo Argento of Argento. And perhaps that was the whole point of this film—to make the conclusions of tales of the unexpected even more unexpected.
QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY (1997)
Directed by Mick Garris (Riding the Bullet, The Stand, Sleepwalkers, Psycho IV, Critters 2) this anthology brings together one Stephen King story and one Clive Barker story. Each tale gets a refresher on the wraparound, with a different character in a different location being told a story by Christopher Lloyd, who looks like a gay Johnny Rotten.
No surprise for me, the Stephen King story is my favorite of all the tales in these two films. A man passing through the desert buys a big walking, chattering teeth toy from shop owner Veronica Cartwright.
Silas Weir Mitchell of Grimm hitches a ride with him, which is when shit gets crazy, because the teeth seem to have a mind of their own…even though they don’t even have a skull.
Clive Barker’s story is an overblown version of getaway hand horror. I find most of his stuff to be overblown…and not particularly scary because it’s always so focused on being smart. But at least this one is kind of goofy.
A surgeon’s hand starts acting of its own accord. It starts doing bad things. It leads the surgeon into Evil Dead 2 territory.
It takes off on its own.
And eventually there are hordes of hands.
I found it all very chaotic and confusing. Just watch Idle Hands instead.
3-1/2 hours for these four stories is a lot to ask. Personally, I would gladly sit through a single 2-hour film with all four tales paired down in length, complete with gay Johnny Rotten hosting.