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RetroramaDVD Review - The Evil / Twice Dead
POSTED BY ED TUCKER, October 6, 2011    Share

DVD Review – The Evil / Twice Dead
Released By: Shout Factory
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Number of Discs: 1
Approximate Running Time: 174 Minutes
Special Features: Directors Commentary Track, Trailers, Featurettes
Suggested Price: $19.93

The Source:

The Evil – A psychologist and his wife find out there is Hell to pay when they attempt to turn a decrepit mansion into a rehabilitation facility. After opening a door to the underworld in the basement, the couple and their assistants are sealed in the mansion by supernatural forces while a demonic presence tortures them one by one.

Richard Crenna discovers that the road to Hell is paved with a lot of white paint!
Twice Dead – After moving into the home of an old time actor with a violent past, a modern urban family finds that his ghost still haunts the premises. To make matters worse, a local gang that operates in the surrounding neighborhood targets the family for harassment. When the gang invades the home though, they get more than they bargained for in the bloody final.

The Fanboy Factor: The first movie on this double feature disc, The Evil, is one of those great horror films that could only have come from the 1970’s, 1978 to be specific. It manages to combine elements from many other films including The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, and even The Legend of Hell House. The film has a solid cast including Richard Crenna as an atheist psychologist, Andrew Prine, who was a 70’s exploitation film staple, and the lovely Mary Louise Weller, best known for her role as Mandy Pepperidge in Animal House which was released the same year. Any sharp eyed viewer who pays attention to the credits will wonder where the exuberant Victor Buono is for most of the film but, forgiving the 30+ year old spoiler, his final reel appearance as the Devil himself is worth waiting for.

The always enjoyable Victor Buono as a smiling Satan.
After the gang goes to work renovating the creepy old house they want to use for a drug rehab clinic, they discover a trap door in the basement sealed with a cross. Making the typical horror movie mistake, they try unsuccessfully to open it but remove the crucifix in the process which sets the demonic forces sealed inside free. After the majority of the cast is knocked off and the spirit of the house’s previous owner fills them in on its history, it’s up to Richard Crenna and wife Joanna Pettet to confront the evil head on.

I wish I could find cool stuff in my attic like the kids in Twice Dead do!
The only thing 1988’s Twice Dead has in common in with its co-feature is the haunted mansion setting. In fact it is really more of a thinly disguised youth in revolt film, which were popular in the mid to late 80’s, than a true horror film. Jill Whitlow, who had just done Night of the Creeps, stars as the daughter of the recently relocated family. She also happens to bare a striking resemblance to the love interest of 30’s actor Tyler Walker who hung himself in their new home after she rejected him.

Jill Whitlow is menaced by a different type of Creep in Twice Dead.
Most of the film is pretty tame, including some crappy effects that are supposed to be crappy effects when the kids use the actor’s old stage props to frighten off the neighborhood punks. Unfortunately this ruse doesn’t work for long and soon they are back and holding the brother and sister hostage. In the final act, the ghost of Tyler Walker comes back full force to posses the gang’s leader and give them all a spiritual awakening of the fatal variety.

The Product: While the two movies on this DVD may be mismatched, Shout Factory still gives them the top notch treatment they are known for. Both films look great with The Evil far exceeding the poor VHS release it was only available in for years. Extras include some informative director’s commentaries, a career overview for perpetually perky Jill Whitlow, and trailers for these and other Shout Factory releases. Pay close attention to the commentary for The Evil as it explains a few mysteries surrounding the film that have plagued fans for years.

The Bottom Line: Not the greatest combination of films in movie (or DVD) history but at less than $20, this DVD is worth it for The Evil alone. Buy it for this classic 70’s haunted house / satanic flick and just consider Twice Dead an extended bonus feature.

"Retrorama" is ©2011 by ED Tucker. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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