This movie came and went. It was like, here today, gone tomorrow. And yet it raked in a good profit and rekindled some old school love for a film franchise that hadn’t seen the light of days in years.
And I was happy.
Evil Dead, specifically Evil Dead 2 was an incredibly important film for me. I wanted to see the movie in the theaters and was denied. The film was originally rated X, then no rating and then edited for the glorious R. At the time I wanted to see it, X. At the time John, Chris and I were insane over horror films, spending Friday or Saturday nights at the Chen’s eating pizza or Asian delights that Mrs. Chen would prepare (the fresh crab dinner will always stand out as one of the best). Then the horror movies; from the classics to the modern we covered them all. And Evil Dead was a favorite on the list. At the time we were budding movie producers, not far from a huge career in the industry with plans to reinvent and change the industry.
And the Chris moved to Cupertino, eventually I changed schools and we all went our ways. But that was that magical time of being 13, 14, and 15 when we weren’t burdened with “the rest of your lives” and were still allowed to be kids, to some degree.
Eventually I was allowed to rent Evil Dead 2 from Blockbuster, and of course the night that I watch it, I’m alone and the movie scared the hell out of me. I lived out in a part of town where houses sat on 5 acre lots and were heavily wooded. Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 played into 2 of my great fears: that something out in the woods was out to get me and my fear of demons/possession. The first really has more to do with a fear of the dark than anything else, and our wooded yard was often pitch black, at that time the city and the lights from the city were very far away. The other, well, has more to do with visiting my mom in the hospital when she was recovering from back surgery and The Exorcist was on the TV. Ever since, I’ve been horrified by demon’s and possession. A film like Evil Dead strikes deep into that.
When I shared my experience with Chris and John, they laughed at me, both of them having laughed their way through the film. It wasn’t until later that I saw and understood the comedy of the film and I’ve come to enjoy that aspect quite a bit. The possession and the “alone in the woods” aspect still sends chills in my spine.
I remember when the trailer for the 2013 version came out, I was skeptical and worried. I thought this would be another torture porn film, that they would try to cash on the latest SAW and Hostel themes (fyi, I think the 1st SAW film is genius) of not caring about the hero or heroine and torturing them to the point that you are rooting for the villain. Arguably, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Hellraiser already had us doing that, but the extremes we see in modern horror are… disturbing. And the trailer for Evil Dead had me thinking oh no.
Don’t misunderstand me, I was giddy as a school girl for Evil Dead. One of my favorite film franchises brought back from the after life, looking to pick up or continue the story that seemed lost. And it looked like it got back to its 1981 roots. The trailer was chock full of white noise, and low tech disgusting effects and possession and dark woods. Oh yeah Evil Dead was on track.
So much so that I couldn’t see it in the theaters, mysteriously this movie never seemed to make it to Denmark. Cue the long wait for BluRay. The long wait that ended last week. Just like it’s predecessor, my first introduction to Evil Dead was at home on my TV. Granted 55 inch LED flat screens and BluRay players have changed things quite a bit. But the event was the same.
My wife agreed to watch the movie with me in the event that I started getting freaked out. And freaked out I did get.
The movie is solid. It’s a good return to a classic theme and it brings back all the freaky, goresome things that you expect from an Evil Dead movie. There is no Ash, but we do see the blue denim shirt being worn. We do get a heroine to empathize and root for. Tons of hacked limbs, and people getting stabbed and cutting off skin parts and other horrible acts of mutilation and self mutilation. We get tons of possession, a part of the story that continues to be the strong characteristic of the franchise. And we get a good story and background for the cabin and its current inhabitants. Not a long back-story, but enough that we care.
From the opening through the ending this is good classic, Evil Dead franchise. The mood is dark, it looks like fall or winter, there’s a cold in the air and the usual hodgepodge of university and post grad heroes. There are the fun camera angles, white noise and general creepiness that’s needed to tell an Evil Dead story. The pacing is good, rhythmic: good high’s and good low’s–even though you know a scare is coming you are still creeped out. The use of low tech special effects is perfect and fitting and really takes us back.
However it doesn’t provide us with anything new. The original film and even the ’87 follow did things on a technical or even horror level that hadn’t been done before, or as well before. The cartoon aspects of Evil Dead 2 were new, the Daffy Duck/Woody Woodpecker aspects. Raimi’s camera angles throughout the first 2 films were revolutionary– mounting a camera on 2×4 to make and do insane shots. Use of the camera to show possession or insanities, things were done in the films that hadn’t been actively done before. And the gore was pushing the limits for the time.
But that’s been a problem since, the horror movies of the ’80s have done it all. There isn’t much more to do from the gore perspective that’s new. SAW and Hostel showed us new ways to present gore, but the gore in itself isn’t new. And this new Evil Dead doesn’t offer anything new there. “Been there done that.”
And the story doesn’t offer anything new, perhaps a new victim or heroine into the Ash timeline, but nothing new to the mythos. But I don’t think it was supposed to, it was a reintroduction for a new generation of deadites. And it didn’t need to offer anything more, but I was expecting more, something that I hadn’t seen before. Not just in the opening sequence, but throughout the whole story. I needed a revelation.
I enjoyed watching this revamp, this return, but a bit of the magic was lost. A bit of that pushing the boundary was lost, not for boundary’s sake, but because there was an effort and idea that needed to communicated. Since there wasn’t that, then I expected a good strong story, one that tied into and expanded the mythos. Anyone can tell the story of 5 kids lost in the woods, they are a dime a dozen; Evil Dead offers an awesome mythos to play with, and I was missing that.
In the end any Evil Dead fan needs to to see this movie; it is a part of the mythos. Park your brain and allow yourselves to get scared and grossed out. Allow yourselves to enjoy this mythos again. It’s groovy.
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