Roger Corman's Cult Classics Double Feature: The Evil / Twice Dead

Roger Corman's Cult Classics Double Feature: The Evil / Twice Dead
Aside from the obvious Grindhouse kitsch factor of lumping two B-movies together on DVD, dividing them with confection stand commercials and adding trailers for other terrible-looking Roger Corman entries, The Evil and Twice Dead have the added benefit of being haunted house movies a decade apart. The relevance is that both films are very much a product of their times, not only amusing unintentionally, but also providing a retrospective on the dominant cultural values of the '70s and '80s, respectively. The Evil finds C.J Arnold (Richard Crenna) and wife Dr. Caroline Arnold (Joanna Pettet) renovating a notorious, uninhabited, old mansion for a proposed drug rehabilitation centre. Aided by a multi-generational, multicultural gang of reformed addicts and promiscuous students, everyone works together harmoniously until religious imagery threatens to punish them for their sins. Unsurprisingly, given the popular communal movement of the times, the home representation is that of an untraditional, ersatz family threatened by traditionalist morals. Furthermore, despite building up tension effectively and featuring some creative death scenes, the standout moments tend to be of an awkward sexist nature, with women becoming hysterical and having their clothes torn off by invisible ghosts. It's a far more dignified film than Twice Dead, however. This '80s entry features a family moving into an inherited home in a transient neighbourhood after struggling with bankruptcy, only to discover a potential haunting. The decade's typical themes of a traditional unit in peril apply, with neighbouring punks threatening teens Scott (Tom Bresnahan) and Robin (scream queen Jill Whitlow) with violence and rape, along with the anxiety of a failed patriarch. Essentially, unethical youths without active parents threaten the sanctity of a tightly bound family put to the test by inconsistent, changing times. More amusingly, the film features characters that exist only to show their tits and subsequently get killed, along with an obese man on a motorcycle provocatively mutilating a female mannequin. Cheesy '80s music and half-shirts flesh out the camp, making this the naff dessert to the mostly serious The Evil. Along with writer/director commentary on both films, an interview with Jill Whitlow is included, where she discusses making this film, as well as Night of the Creeps and Weird Science. (Shout! Factory)