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The Evil – 7

Director – Gus Trikonis

Cast – Richard Crenna, Joanna Pettet, Andrew Prine, Cassie Yates, George O’Hanlon Jr., Lynne Moody, Mary Louise Weller, Robert Viharo, Victor Buono

Release Year – 1978

Reviewed by John of the Dead

My recent search for more haunted house films lead me to The Evil after watching the awesome  supernatural flick Superstition, both of which were produced by Ed Carlin.  I had heard of The Evil previously but always had a very hard time getting a hold of this rare film given most copies are on VHS, but sure enough my time came and I took the opportunity with the biggest grin I could display across my sometimes-handsome face.  Haunted house films have always been a favorite of mine, so naturally I really wanted to enjoy The Evil, and I am glad to say that this piece was as good as I expected/wanted it to be.  The atmosphere is great and despite a low budget there is no shortage of good horror and scares, making for a very worthwhile haunted house film that has remained off the radar for decades.

After purchasing an old mansion, CJ and Caroline Arnold invite their psychology group to join them in cleaning up the home and making it livable.  Soon after entering the old Vargas Mansion Caroline begins to suffer what appear to be haunting delusions, but soon enough the true evil residing within the home will manifest itself and wreak havoc on all who have stepped foot in the plagued estate.

I don’t care when it was made, a haunted house film will always intrigue me because it allows me to envelop myself given I have been fortunate enough to reside in a home my entire life and can imagine my own home suffering the hauntings in the films.  So long as you get a few essentials right, like atmosphere and scares, then you can pretty much tell any haunted house story and come away with a good flick, and The Evil gave us atmosphere, scares, and more.  Writers Galen Thompson and Gus Trikonis did a swell job giving us an engaging storyline that while employing the usual haunted house template still managed to keep my attention throughout.  For starters we are given an awesome opening sequence taking up the first 10 or so minutes of the film, drawing out the tension and giving us a taste of the great horror that would soon erupt as the story continued.  I loved the idea of the Arnolds buying the home and bringing their friends over given I am a big fan of haunted house films where the new homeowners take on a home with a dark past that they had no idea of, and of course suffer the horrific consequences of their decision.  The Arnolds bringing their friends over just provided more characters to be killed off by the evil force in the home, and I was very glad to see that we were given many memorable kill sequences in this story – a big reason behind why I never once looked away from this piece.  Some of the kill sequences were not as gruesome as you may want them to be, but considering the low budget I was very happy to see a good number of kills period.  The majority of the film plays off of our characters slowly succumbing to the evil force around them, eventually finding themselves barricaded within the home and forced to fend off an attacker that can take on many killing forms.  The low budget also results in some “what you don’t see is scary” horror, which I never balk at given it comes with its own spookiness that I enjoy and respect.  Naturally there are faults with most horror films, and while this one did not have any major ones I did find some fault during the final sequence.  The final sequence was a bit silly and came seemingly out of nowhere, and according to what I have read there was an alternate version shot to alleviate the complaints regarding the scene in question, but the version I saw was not the re-edited one and regardless I was very pleased with the end result.

Co-writer Gus Trikonis also served as the film’s director, and I must applaud him for doing a lot with what little he had to work with.  His atmosphere and sets are excellent and provided a great background for the film’s numerous spooks, and his execution of the horror itself was great and shot in a very full-frontal and shocking manner.  We are not given much as far as gore goes, but the kills were still enjoyable and actually came with pretty good special FX for the time the film was released.  The acting performances are standard for 70s horror films, and each of the numerous actors involved sold their roles and played their part in this great haunted house film that I found so darn enjoyable.

Overall, The Evil is a great and vastly under-appreciated haunted house film that despite a very low budget still managed to deliver a good story, awesome kills, and good spooks.

Rating: 7/10

  1. April 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Amazing. I remember seeing this on Showtime about a thousand years ago and I *loved* it, campy ending and all. I looked for it not too long ago online and realized it’s never been released to DVD, which is a shame, though someone posted the trailer on youtube so I had some fun watching that. I’m so glad someone knows about this movie besides me!

    • April 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      Yes I was sad to see that this did not have a true DVD release, BUT I did come across a Roger Corman DVD combo that included The Evil and another film on Amazon. Who knows, maybe someone like Blue Underground will attain the rights to release this one on DVD.

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