Follow us on

Featured DVD Review: Roger Corman Double-Feature: The Evil & Twice Dead

October 1st, 2010

Roger Corman Double-Feature: The Evil & Twice Dead - Buy from Amazon

The first of two Roger Corman releases coming out this week is a Double-Feature with two low-budget horror films: The Evil & Twice Dead. They are a pair of Haunted House films that are being released just in time for Halloween. Is the DVD worth checking out? Will fans of Roger Cormon want to pick it up? Will fans of horror in general?

The Evil

An old civil war mansion has recently been leased by C.J. Arnold and his wife and fellow doctor, Caroline, who plans to turn it into a drug rehabilitation facility. The mansion, and the valley in which it is located, have a lot of history. The native Indians thought the valley was cursed, while the locals don't hold a much higher opinion of the mansion and some even want it torn down. It is also in desperate need of renovation, but the good doctor, and his wife, have plenty of volunteers for that, including Prof. Raymond Guy and his girlfriend, Laurie, plus plenty of students.

Right away Caroline starts to notice weird things, ranging from a glowing light to statues that appear to move. Kaiser, the dog, senses something is effected and attacks his owner before going into hiding. But while there are creepy events here and there, the real horror doesn't start till they remove a giant cross from a stone door. All hell breaks loose (literally) and some force seals the victims inside.

The Evil is your typical Haunted House film that has a better than average setup, plus Richard Crennan in a starring role. On the other hand, it is hampered by a small budget of just $700,000 according to the audio commentary track. Some of the kills get a little repetitive (electricity is a theme) but there is at least one gore scene that is memorable enough that the movie is worth checking out. And the end confrontation is fun, in a weird way.

On the other hand, I really wish the skeptics would win in more movies.

One last note, the film is rated R, but I figure that's mostly because it predates the PG-13 rating.

The Extras

The extra for this movie is the audio commentary track with the director, Gus Trikonis; the writer, Donald Thompson; the D.P., Mario Di Leo, and the moderator, Walter Olsen. There's also the trailer / TV spots.

The Verdict

Not one of Roger Corman's best known films; in fact, The Evil is mostly forgotten. It is not a great movie and it takes a good setup and mostly wastes it, but it works enough that fans of the Haunted House sub-genre, especially fans of such films from the late 1970s / early 1980s, will want to check it out.

Twice Dead

It's shortly after the stock market crash of 1929 and actor Tyler Walker is about to lose his home. Before the banker and the sheriff and some third guy can kick him out of his house, he has a romantic time with his mannequin dancing to some music before stabbing her in the back and hanging himself.

Flash forward 50+ years and the Walker mansion is now in a run down neighborhood, but the Cates Family are happy to have it. There's the father, Harry; the mother, Sylvia; the son, Scott; and daughter, Robin. They've inherited the mansion from a relative and they are happy to have this little bit of luck after some financial troubles of their own. However, moving in is not a simple process, as a gang, led by Silk, has been using the abandoned house as their hideout. They are able to chase them off, for now, but it isn't long before the gang starts harassing the kids at school. In addition, it appears the ghost of Tyler Walker is not exactly happy with the new residents either.

So with the gang harassing the kids at school and the ghost haunting them at home, it's the perfect time for the parents to leave. The result is a weird combination of Haunted House movie and Home Invasion movie.

Taking into account that this is a low budget movie, there are some parts that work better than expected. For instance, the first round of the Home Invasion sub-plot has a funny Home Alone vibe to it, although this movie came out two years earlier. (Perhaps it was more inspired by F/X.) I also liked the way the Tyler Walker storyline is interwoven with the gang storyline. That said, the execution wasn't exactly top shelf. Some of the acting is dodgy; some of the special effects look cheap, although the ones done by kids within the movie look appropriately non-professional; there are more than a few plot holes; etc.

On a side note, one of the gang members, Candy, the nice but ditsy one, looked really familiar but I couldn't place the face. Then I looked her up. She's Joleen Lutz, who had a recurring role on Night Court as the stenographer, a ditsy stenographer.

The Extras

There is another audio commentary on this movie with the director/co-writer, Bert Dragin, and lead actor, Tom Bresnahan, a.k.a., Scott. It is again moderated by Walter Olsen. There is also a 12-minute interview featurette with Jill Whitlow, a.k.a., Robin.

The Verdict

This Haunted House tale is less scary than the first, but it does include more range in the kills. The home invasion aspect is something you don't often see in a Haunted House movie, and the two stories blend well enough to call it a selling point. Fans of 1980s horror should find enough here that works that Twice Dead is worth checking out.

The Final Verdict

The The Evil & Twice Dead Double-Feature DVD has better consistency than the previous Double-Feature DVD that I reviewed. It has solid extras, especially for this type of release. Individually these DVDs are worth renting for fans of these movies, while together they are worth picking up if you are a fan of B-movie horror.

- Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review