Last night I watched a horror double feature of The Evil and Twice Dead. Now I did not cleverly put these two films together, instead I watched them together because they came packaged as a double feature as part of the Roger Corman Cult Classic’s Collection. See how that works out:
Now get a load of the official descriptions of these films:
Psychologist C.J. Arnold (Richard Crenna) and his wife Caroline (Joanna Pettet) buy a dilapidated historical mansion with a dark past in hopes of restoring the estate and making it a drug rehabilitation clinic with the help of some of his students and current patients. When he opens a secret door in the basement of the house, Arnold inadvertently releases a malevolent presence in Gus Trikonis The Evil. Yowsers! Also starring Victor Buono, Andrew Prine and Cassie Yates.
A family moves into a mansion in a crime-infested urban neighborhood, but the ghost of an actor who died in the mansion is not the only thing they need to watch out for: there is also a punk street gang roaming the area looking for trouble. Tom Bresnahan (Ski School), Jill Whitlow (Night Of The Creeps) and Todd Bridges (Diff rent Strokes) star in the haunted-house thriller Twice Dead. You will be twice as scared as usual.
I have not seen either of these films, but from these descriptions, I was so sure that Twice Dead was going to be the standout film for me, so I decided to watch it second (I did not watch the trailer until after I watched both movies). Wow, was I wrong. The Evil is great! I guess it is a low budget affair, but I am not sure how and Richard Crenna is great in the film. He is one of those underrated talents out there. He and the great supporting cast really bring the scary in this one and the chills you get watching it are genuine. Not some low budget thrown together shooting in the dark and hope you scare people chills, but honest to goodness tension mounts and I believe the actors chills. When it ended I kept thinking, well if this movie is this good, then Twice Dead is going to knock my socks off. It most certainly did not.
It is okay, and I like the premise of a helpful ghost who takes on punks, but compared to the gravity of The Evil, Twice Dead is like watching Saturday Morning Cartoons right after a tense cop drama. Completely inappropriate. If you are going to watch this double feature, make sure you start off with Twice Dead, or better yet split them up on the weekend and watch Twice Dead on a rain afternoon and save The Evil for a some late night thrills.
Crenna shines on this set, but I would not be a proper fan of 70s and 80s nostalgia if I didn’t point you towards Bridges in his appearance in Twice Dead. Yes he is in it, but he is not the star and I think he is wasted in the film, since he is actually a pretty decent actor. If you need a horror fix, which of course you will need this month, pick up The Evil, it is on my “must-watch” list and since it is bundled with Twice Dead you get a nice bonus that will give you some good laughs.