The Evil lurks in the basement to unleash some spooky weirdness.
The seventies gave us a lot of horror gems. While The Evil isn’t exactly one of them, it still is a fine popcorn horror with a simple story, some crazy kills and some cheesy special effects. If you like a haunted house tale, this one gives you some chills, mostly provided by an evil laughter, the creepy sound of the wind, paranormal occurrences and a malevolent and a benevolent presence. The setup is pretty basic and apart from a few cobwebs and the dilapidated house, it isn’t that scary. But for a fun horror evening with friends this little horror flick has some spooky horror fun to offer.
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Psychiatrist C.J. Arnold and his wife Doctor Caroline bought a dilapidated house to turn it into a rehabilitation centre. With some college friends and people who C.J. already helped with his rehabilitation program, they get to work. What they don’t know is that the house is built on sulfur pits and has a sealed pit in the basement to keep something evil in. When C.J. accidentally opens this gateway, all hell breaks loose and they get locked up inside to die horrible deaths.
Why you should watch it
The Evil is certainly not the best horror movie from the seventies, but still entertaining enough. The group of people is composed of 4 smart college men and women and 3 people who were helped by C.J. He is the man of the house, while Caroline although a doctor herself is a more meek woman. She is the only one who can see the apparition, a white shimmering humanlike figure. Neither of them is irrational or makes illogical decisions. They try to solve each problem with logic thinking and practical solutions. Maybe that’s what makes this film less chilling. They don’t put themselves in real harms-way, unless it is unavoidable.
Nonetheless the house, or rather what is locked up in the house, has its own agenda. It makes itself known by an evil shrill laughter, supported by a lot of ominous music, so the viewer knows when to get scared. The deaths are indeed horrible, but also a little cheesy and the moment the gateway is opened the house shakes like an earthquake took place and the theatrical movements they make are a bit comical and look more like tomfoolery than realistic reactions to the violent shaking of the house. But that can be entertaining as well.
The kills are not that brutal or startling, but the scene with Raymond and his skilsaw is well built up and has an intense shot prior to the body horror. To think of it, his final death scene is the best in the bunch, so he gets all the horror credits. C.J. and Caroline are the heroes and final girl and boy in this film, both equally capable of defeating evil, but Caroline even more so.
The ending is a surprising one, a bit cheesy, but fun and unexpected. The dialogue can be a bit forced and overthought, but it suits the overall film. All in all, it’s a fun popcorn watch. Not too scary, not too brutal, a bit cheesy at times with a simple setup, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Side note: the dog Kaiser dies. He attacks Mary and they both fall over the banister. Not explicitly filmed but sad anyway.
My favorite part
When the malevolent presence makes itself known, first with the shaking of the house, then the assault on Felicia all the while with the evil laughter on the background, is very silly and therefore the perfect example of this popcorn horror flick. There is no scene which stands out, it is pretty even leveled, but I liked to have seen more of this evil presence who toys with the poor people locked inside the house. It could have been more pressing, making their actions more wild and less thoughtful, the atmosphere more creepy and it could have driven them all insane which suited the profession of the doctors in the house very well. Instead they all get killed in a somewhat bland manner.
Scare factor: ★☆☆☆☆
Popcorn factor: ★★★☆☆
Gruesome factor: ★★☆☆☆
Entertainment factor: ★★★★☆
Cast and crew
The Evil is directed and written by Gus Trikonis and co-written by Galen Thompson. It stars Richard Crenna (C.J.) Arnold, Joanna Pettet (Caroline Arnold), Andrew Prine (Prof. Raymond Guy), Cassie Yates (Mary Harper), George O’Hanlon Jr (Pete Brooks), Lynne Moody (Felicia Allen), Mary Louise Weller (Laurie Belman) and Victor Buono The Devil).
Duration: 89 minutes. Music: Johnny Harris. Cinematography: Marion DiLeo. Edited by: Jack Kirschner. Produced by: Ed Carlin. Production companies: Hollywood West Entertainment, Rangoon Productions. Distributed by: New World Pictures.