This superbly chilling haunted-house opus stars Richard Crenna as a therapist who, with wife Joanna Pettet, selects a lavish mansion for use as a drug rehab clinic. No sooner have the staff and their assistants set up housekeeping when a nightmarish force emerges from a trap door in the basement, and the house begins preying on the occupants in horrendous ways, from freak electrical bursts to sudden flash fires.


Compassionate psychologist C.J. Arnold and his supportive wife Caroline purchase a huge, creepy, rundown old mansion with the intention of transforming it into a drug rehabilitation center. A kindly apparition warns Caroline to leave the house, but the stubbornly rationale C.J. balks at the idea that the eerie abode might be spooked and invites a team of college students led by C.J.’s good buddy Professor Raymond Guy to help him clean the dingy place up. Things turn sour and get mighty harrowing when C.J. accidentally releases an ancient and extremely malevolent phantasmagoric force that’s been confined in the basement for a long time.

While the ghostly apparitions that confront the cast are quite effective, especially the white hazy figure of a man who appears fleetingly and indistinctly at the start of the proceedings. Some off the other effects are not bad either. People are flung about by unseen forces, which looks pretty convincing, and there is an effective scene of an assault on one woman who effectively portrays the situation without looking like she’s doing it all herself. There’s even a brief gore shot involving a circular saw which surprised me! Plus the film all seems to be shot on location, and even though it’s evidently not a high budget production, the scenes all look good and are well filmed.

Now for the drawbacks…well I said the film is set inside what appears to be a genuine large empty house, but the place is one of the ugliest, drabbest mansions I have seen in a haunted house movie It looks far too modern to have any ghostly atmosphere, and the outside in particular completely lacks any stylish design, with some dismally plain stained glass windows and a ridiculously top heavy tower to round things off. However, it’s certainly huge, and some of the interior rooms look like banqueting halls, although they are all completely devoid of any effective period features.. bar one amazing over-sized fireplace that the director wisely sets a few scenes in front of whenever he gets the chance.

“The Evil” is part of a Corman Cult Classics Double Feature from Shout Factory. The film looks to have been remastered with a brand new transfer. The seemingly mono seems to be the original soundtrack, it’s just that there is very little definition. I like what Shout Factory has done so far with these releases, but we need more of the bigger name Corman titles. Only the hardcore Corman/horror fans will want to check this out. Everyone else might rent it.

RELEASE DATE: 10/05/2010

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