Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Double Feature: The Evil and Twice Dead – DVD Review

There’s always a temptation in jumping on cheap real estate. Who can’t resist a bargain especially in this buyers housing market. When a deal is too juicy, people often resist hiring a building inspector. But you should never ever consider property without hiring a exorcist. Often there’s a serious reason for an incredibly low asking price and nothing devalues property faster than evil spirits. Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Double Feature: The Evil and Twice Dead brings two tales of moving into large buildings that they should have remained vacant.

The Evil (1978 – 88 minutes) presents the keys to Richard Crenna (Rambo: First Blood) for an abandoned mansion that hasn’t been used in 100 years. It was a spa until the local hot springs died. He dreams of using it as his drug rehab center. He’s going to be the next Dr. Drew. He brings in a batch co-workers and former junkies to clean up the place instead of hiring a professional crew. After a few hours of sweeping up, Crenna learns the option promoted on the listing: a doorway to Hell! The evil blows into the mansion causing them to be trapped inside and driven insane. There’s quit a few grizzly moments including a circular saw gone bad. The film goes rather weird when Crenna and his wife (Joanna Pettet) step through the basement door to go face to face with the evil spirit causing all the trouble. This end appears to be the inspiration for The Matrix Reloaded. The horrific tone of the previous four reels becomes confusion with the arrival of Victor Buono (Batman‘s King Tut). The good news is that they didn’t rip off the forbidden doorway aspect from The Amityville Horror. That movie about cursed real estate didn’t come out till the year after The Evil struck.

Twice Dead (1988 – 87 minutes ) once more reminds people that you get what you pay for when it comes to real estate. Except this time the price is especially tempting since Sam Melville has inherited a mansion in Los Angeles. Times have been tough on the guy, but he thinks the new digs for his family will change there luck. However they’re not moving into the glitzy part of the neighborhood. Their mansion is in the ghetto. A pack of punk hooligans have turned it into their club house squat. They’re not happy about being evicted for the refuges of Apple’s Way. Is it worth the struggle? This is truly a bad neighborhood since Todd Bridges lives nearby. Although he’s a friend to the two kids (Tom Bresnahan and Jill Whitlow). He wants to reclaim the neighborhood from the menace of punks. What they don’t know is that they also have to worry about the undead. Turns out the original owner killed himself in a freaky manner in the ‘30s. He hasn’t quite moved out of his old rooms. There’s plenty of supernatural gore including a really fat guy getting mutilated by his possessed motorcycle. Twice Dead doesn’t tease us with Charlie Spradling (Wild At Heart) dropping her top for a love scene that turns into a shocking bedroom scene. Sometimes a free house is the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy.

Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Double Feature: The Evil and Twice Dead is a perfect marathon for a house with strange creaks in the darkness. Both films give quite a few visual frights without looking comical in the effects. They represent some fine cheesy haunting action of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The Evil has a ’70s gritty feel as they clean up the cursed building. Twice Dead is a hairspray horror from the ’80s. It’s a great spooky housewarming gift this Halloween.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic for both films. The images are sharper than their old VHS transfers. The audio is 2.0 stereo that doesn’t do too much playing with the noises. They’re pretty blunt about making the bumps come straight out of the screen.

Audio commentary on The Evil includes director Gus Trikonis, writer Donald Thompson and director of photography Mario Di Leo. Their chat is moderated by Walter Olsen. The duo explain why the film goes weird when the cast enter the door to hell. Twice Dead‘s track includes director Bert Dragin and actor Tom Bresnahan remembering the shoot with help of Walter Olsen. Turns out Tom had a relationship with his screen sister.

Theatrical Trailer (2:10) for The Evil. It shows the hell that waits these fixer uppers.

TV Spot (0:31) reduces the trailer to the fear of what’s beneath the door in the floor.

The Girl Next Door with Jill Whitlow (12:28) interviews the daughter from Twice Dead. She talks about playing a teenage hooker on T.J. Hooker.

Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Double Feature: The Evil and Twice Dead is a fine two-fer. Both films bring the horror of fixing up real estate that’s not covered on TLC shows. How much can a doorway to hell or a homicidal ghost add to the resale value? The menu is set up to look like a ‘70s style movie theater. You can click on the concession stand, main theater doors and the projectionist booth to get various bonus features and the movies. You can watch both films along with trailers and double feature promos in the “The Roger Corman Experience” mode. This is highly recommended for those who want sticky floors during their movie night.

Shout! Factory presents Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Double Feature: The Evil and Twice Dead. Directed by: Gus Trikonis and Bert Dragin. Starring: Richard Crenna, Victor Buono, Jonathan Chapin, Jill Whitlow, Todd Bridges and Charlie Spradling. Boxset Contents: 2 Movies on 1 DVD. Released on DVD: October 4, 2010.

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