The Evil/Twice Dead (1978/1988/Shout! Factory DVD)
Picture: C+/C Sound:
C/C Extras: C+ Films: B-
The two films featured here make for a good
comparison with one another, as they are each a prime example of the changes
placed on the haunted house film in the era that they were made. †Looking at them, you can see the dramatic
shift in style that occurred during the decade between them.
The Evil dates from 1978 and was brought out right as horror filmmaking
would be changed forever with the release of John Carpenter's Halloween.
†It largely fits the pattern set by
1970's horror films about demonic possession and by default, bears much in
common with The Amityville Horror. †However, it still predates the release of that
film by a year. †Although drawn out and
with a mildly ludicrous scene toward the end, this is still a surprisingly
solid movie, and is deserved of a little more respect than it seems to have
gotten in the intervening years.
By 1988, the year of Twice Dead, we can see how new wave culture and the
video market has been an influence on the genre. †The film appeals to several subgenres in an
attempt to sell not only the idea of it being a haunted house movie. †In addition to pandering to the slasher film
market, it also employs the draw of street violence and heavy metal culture to
reach its audience. †Itís an odd mix, and
sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but at least itís something a little
In the ten years between these two movies trends came and went, and we would see
what is perhaps the ultimate modern ghost movie in Poltergeist. †That is a hard film to top, but it is strange
that more imitators did not step up to the plate. †This is likely due more to budgetary
restraints than much else, as that film was conceived as being a
special-effects tour de force - a bar that most imitators would be unable to
Still, curiously, there are almost no signs of the influence from that film
seen in Twice Dead. †For all the
style-mashing that film does, it is at its core a traditional ghost film, and
takes its cues directly from the very oldest horror in Hollywood's history.
Extras content includes a feature length cast and crew commentary for each of
the films here, as well as trailers and an interview with actress Jill Whitlow.
The image on both movies is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and both
look rather good, all things considered. †Some artifacts exist on the original
materials, and there is a fair amount of grain on each of the films. †The transfers were handled well, however, and
the colors come through quite well in both cases.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono for each film, and is adequate,
though they can both sound a bit muffled at times.
It would be another ten years before we would see the genre adapt again - this
time reinventing itself with Ringu, and ushering in a new era of ghost
stories that would be remade and rehashed to death over the following years.
Recently, the film Paranormal Activity has managed to revive interest in
the ailing genre again, but pales when stacked against the more original and
interesting films of the past. †I would
gladly take either of the films contained on this disc over that dreck any day,
and thank Shout! Factory for continuing their great work with this release.
- David Milchick