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The 100




Evil, The
(1978)
Reviewed by Ned Daigle
Rating: 3.5 Beans

h, yet another decent filmwatching memory of my youth has been dashed to bits.

Recently one of the local video stores that I frequent brought in a whole passel of older back-stock catalogue titles for rent and I spotted this little gem; a wave of nostalgia flooded my brain and I thought "Hey, I always remembered that movie as actually being pretty good". Oh I was such a stupid child. Now don't get me wrong, "The Evil" does have its good points, but what I took as interesting and creepy, came across now as belabored and corny.

"The Evil" stars Richard Crenna as a professor of psychology who rents this giant abandoned house on a hill to renovate as a sort-of refuge for drug abusers, I think. Anyway, despite the stories of strange goings-on and the house's history of being built on desecrated land, he and a team of fellow colleagues and students go to the manse and begin fixing it up. As far as set-ups go, you could do a whole lot worse.

But Crenna does a really really really stupid thing. He finds and old door in the floor of the basement that has been closed and buried, an ancient cross is placed in the door-handles to keep it closed. Of course he pulls the cross out, which opens the door and unleashes.....gasp.....the EEEEEVIL.

So now the flick turns into a haunted house slash fest. Despite the fact that someone is burned alive from a broken furnace, that a dog goes beserk and tears out his owner's throat, that doors and windows close and lock by themselves, that someone else is crispy-fried for no reason, despite all of that, Crenna still says things like "There's got to be a rational explanation for it".

Even after the house rumbles like there's an earthquake, a fellow professor attempts to buzz-saw off his own hand, a girl is attacked and her clothes are torn off by an unseen force, Crenna still doesn't want to face reality.

Anyway, now that everyone else is dead except for Crenna and his lady-friend, they figure out that they need to close the doorway to evil and put the cross back where it was. But they drop the cross down into the hell-pit and must go down and search for it. With badly superimposed smoke, Crenna stumbles around and finally makes his way into a white room where a fat guy is sitting on a throne. Yes, I kid you not.

This guy, of course, is the devil, or a demon or whatever, being played by Victor Buono (a very far cry from his Oscar nominationed work in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"). Well, Buono and Crenna talk about evil and such for a while until the heroine suddenly appears and stabs Buono with the cross. The house's doors fly open and our two friends live to see another day.

There is some good atmosphere in "The Evil" and some pretty decent shocks for it's day (I know, things have changed in 20 years). But the complete stupidity of the Crenna character is just an exercise in frustration, the sceptic who, no matter what, won't except things as they are. It takes him to be possessed by a demon in one scene to finally go "Ok, something weird's going on."

If you can sit through "The Evil" without rolling your eyes tooooooo much, it might be a decent $1 rental. But remember to check your brain and your patience at the door.






"Bad Movie Night" is a presentation of
Hit-n-Run Productions, © 1997-2006,
a subsidiary of Syphon Interactive, LLC.

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