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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The Evil (1978)

I have been having just an awful time watching new to me movies recently. I needed to cleanse my palette and have vague memories seeing The Evil years ago on a local horror hosted show. I remember really digging it so figured it might just be what I was looking for.

A man named C.J. Arnold and his wife Caroline, a doctor, are looking for a place to open a clinic. Not sure if it is for mental health or addiction but their intentions are good. Sadly their choice in real estate isn’t. They end up at an abandoned mansion with a bit of a history. The locals have legends about the man who built it and at various times have wanted to tear it down. The audience has also already seen the caretaker cleaning the place up and getting torched by a furnace that has a mind of its own. So, this is not a good place.

The pair persist and bring some friends including a recovering addict named Felicia, a jokester named Pete, and a professor named Raymond. Along with others they get about setting up generators and cleaning up the massive structure. Things are already creepy as Caroline keeps seeing what appears to be a glowing orb that seems to try and communicate something to her. There is also a German Shepperd that goes a bit nuts and attacks his owner. But it gets bad when C.J. finds a cross covering a door in the floor of the cellar.

Guys if you find a cross being used to hold something closed leave it alone! He doesn’t and people start dying. Eventually we are down to just a couple of them when they fall into the doorway in the basement and meet the devil, played by the legendary Victor Buono. Do they survive the encounter? Is the devil freed to play havoc in our world? Will they get their security deposit back with all the bodies upstairs? These and more questions are answered before the end credits roll.

I’m happy to report back that this is every bit as much fun as I remember. During the seventies the devil was big box office with movies like Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, and even drive-in fair like The Devil’s Rain. Not only do I not hesitate to include The Evil with those flicks, but I think it is every bit as good as those. Sure, it is a bit goofier when we finally see Buono but as he argues and does battle with our good guys notice how he slowly transforms showing more demonic features. That sort of attention to detail is why I dig this one.

Victor Buono kills it as the Devil!
The movie is paced well with the house and getting trapped inside by the forces of evil happening quickly so they can get to the good stuff. It starts off with weird camera angles, whispers and odd sounds but escalates into folks getting tossed around rooms by unseen forces. When the deaths start they come at us fast. While not overly explicit we do have a couple electrocutions, a couple people burn up, another gets tossed off a balcony, and there is even a table saw run across a hand. You see just enough to make it cringeworthy without being gory. For what is basically a haunted house type flick it all fits into a nice entertaining package.

I’ve already mentioned Victor Buono, but the rest of the cast is solid as well. Andrew Prine (Grizzly) is the professor. He is always solid when he shows up in movies like this and here is no exception. Our leads of C.J. and Caroline are portrayed by Richard Crenna (First Blood) and Joanna Pettet (Casino Royale) respectively. It was also to see Lynne Moody (Scream Blacula Scream) make an appearance.

This is a great cast. You give these folks a good script, which we get with The Evil, and it makes for an awesome way to kill ninety minutes. I highly recommend checking this one out. It is available online for free so there is no reason not to.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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