A psychologist named C. J. Arnold (Richard Crenna) purchases a dilapidated historical mansion built prior to the civil war in hopes of restoring the estate and making it a drug rehabilitation clinic with the help of some of his students and current patients. When he removes a cross he discovers in the basement of the house, he inadvertently releases Satan (Victor Buono).

Honestly, there is nothing to say about Gus Trikonis’s trite cinematic abortion, The Evil (possibly one of the worst, most pretentious, insipid, and uninspiring titles within the genre) aside from the fact that it is undoubtedly one of the worst haunted house films ever set to celluloid. The director was even of the naïve, megalomania-fueled opinion (what can be expected of the person responsible for twenty-two episodes of “Baywatch”?) that generations of filmmakers before him were merely not up to the task of presenting the Dark Prince himself onscreen (which his predecessors realized was an impossible visual feat to accomplish unless, of course, you’re Ridley Scott). The only haphazard moment of note which occurs in the entire production is when Raymond Guy (Andrew Prine) nearly severs his hand after the house’s influence takes charge of a skill saw. Instead of running around screaming, a moment of inspiration (the more probable impetus might very well have been lethargy) occurs in that Guy passes out from blood loss shortly thereafter. Aside from this, we are tortured with seemingly countless, non sequitur instances involving electrocutions (the Devil is apparently backed by Union Electric) and characters being drug around the floor which are only interrupted by numerous false alarms and cryptic messages from a token haunted soul (Galen Thompson). Otherwise, The Evil only serves as a minor point of historical interest in that when Satan appears, it is in an otherworldly, surreal realm, which predates Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm by a year.

-Egregious Gurnow