Fanboys, beware. This might make you totally freak out and go full nerd rage on us. (Trolls please, feel free to leave comments about your rage. It amuses us, and our dark evil overlords demand it.)
When the movie “The Evil Dead” was released way back in 1981, it was a polarizing movie. People either loved it, or hated it. When the remake of “The Evil Dead” was released in 2013, it was a polarizing movie. People either love it, or they hate it.
See what I did there? No? OK, let me explain.
When the original “The Evil Dead” first came out it was a low budget indie movie made by three crazy guys. You might have heard of them, you know; Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and that other guy, I think they called him Shemp or something. Anyways, it had crazy bad over-acting, a ton of gore, and horrific scenes of bodily harm that grossed out (and terrified), a lot of people that went to see it. There were such bad reviews about it that they thought that the movie was going to flop and disappear into horror movie oblivion. But, instead of being lost and forgotten, “The Evil Dead” became a Cult Classic, thanks to the newly made home movie industry and it’s Holy Grail, the VHS player.
“The Evil Dead” is really important to the horror genre. It practically launched the splatterpunk sub-genre all by itself. Sure, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” did make chainsaws a weapon of choice for slasher films, but Ash made it an iconic horror weapon, because he made it fun. The chainsaw was elevated to a whole new level of awesomeness when it became the replacement for Ash’s hand.
Since they had such a small budget, they had to get creative with camera angles, and some of the wide sweeping movement shots of the monster-cam; basically done by sending a cameraman down a zip-line, and putting a camera on the front of a bicycle and having someone peddle like crazy and swerving through the woods. While the special effects of the original didn’t age too well, they still managed to make a kick ass movie with monsters made with nothing more than stop-motion clay animation, and the cheapest makeup prosthetics known to man. But it wasn’t the makeup that made the Deadites scary, it was the plot.
At it’s heart, “The Evil Dead” is a Lovecraftian tale. The name of Lovecraft’s Necronomicon literally means The Book of the Dead. What does the Necronomicon do? Raises the undead and drives men insane. Which, is exactly what the Book of the Dead does when you read it. Reading aloud from The Book of the Dead raised the evil spirits, that possess the living and make them kill themselves and anyone else in their vicinity (which is probably how they got the name Deadites from the fans). By playing the recording of the professor reading from the book, it brought the monsters back to life. And, no matter what you did, you couldn’t truly kill people once they’ve been possessed by the evil brought forth by the book.
And, like in all Lovecraft stories, you have to burn the Book of the Dead to stop the Deadites.
The original film is pretty dark and scary, and it has some pretty intense, cringe worthy moments in it. But, underlying it’s blood splattered cover is a wry smile; an attitude that says, yeah, this is scary, but check out this trippy scene with the stuffed Moose mounted on the wall that starts laughing at him. Woop, woop, woop! I just imagine the Three Stooges hiding in the background somewhere waiting to pounce on some poor unsuspecting fool that decided it would be a great idea to go for a walk in the woods over by that decrepit cabin.
Have we pissed you off yet? No? Then keep reading you fool!
The remake is darker and has a more sinister, doomed feel to it than the original. The acting is certainly a lot better (hey, even Bruce himself says that he over-acted in the Evil Dead movies, and that other people shouldn’t imitate what he did). Even the sound effects in the new one are top-notch. There’s some really intense, scary stuff in it.
What people need to know is that they didn’t set out to remake the original “The Evil Dead.” They never would’ve produced it if that’s what the movie was going to be. Instead, they found a relatively new unknown director who loved the series, and let him make his own version, titled “Evil Dead.” That’s why the movie doesn’t have Ash in it as the main character. And it’s also why I like it so much. It recreates the Deadites design and makes their presence more sinister. Their actions of self mutilation and bodily harm fills the viewer with creeping dread; even if you are a fan boy, you have to admit that the makeup and prosthetics they did are top notch, even with the limited budget that they had to work with.
Unlike it’s predecessors, the remake utilizes The Book of the Dead to it’s full potential. In the book are not only the rules for how to summon and stop the Deadites, but it also explains what the incantations do, and lays out the different rituals required to bring forth a most despicable evil demon into the world. The stakes were raised, big time, with this incarnation of The Book of the Dead. The pages foreshadowed, in grisly detail, just what each possessed person would do to themselves. And man, there are some really nasty scenes in this one. One of our favorites, is (spoiler alert) when one of the characters takes broken mirror glass and starts sawing away at her own jaw bone to try to remove it. The sound of the glass sawing through flesh and bone is as jarring as having to listen to someone running their nails down a chalkboard. You find yourself not wanting to see what the character is doing to herself, and yet, like a train wreck, it’s impossible to look away when she is revealed.
The art design in the book is amazing, to the point where I’d go so far as to call it wicked cool. Yeah, I know. Makes me sound like I’m from Jersey Shore, but I digress. It’s wicked, evil, and its contents are so amazingly horrible that it still leaves me in awe to look at it in the movie.
More importantly, it adds to the Evil Dead mythology instead of retracting from it, which is why it’s such a good movie. It could’ve been like some other remakes, such as “The Thing” (2011), which while not technically a remake, was supposed to be a prequel of “The Thing” (1982), but it ended up being a remake because it rehashed everything we knew about what happened at the Swedish camp in Antarctica, up to the point where it became obvious that there wasn’t an original thing (ha!) in the movie.
Instead of having unique monsters for each appearance of the Thing, they reused monster designs repeatedly, and decided (wrongly I might add) to shelve the awesome practical effects monsters that were created, and used CGI to create them instead. The sub-par plot, and the computer graphics ended up being so bad, that it was nothing more than a parody of itself once the film was done.
Thankfully, “Evil Dead” (2013) didn’t do that.
In an interview on the Blu-Ray release of the remake, Bruce Campbell stated that he wouldn’t have supported the making of the film, and none of the original people involved would’ve produced it was just a rehash of the original film. He said that making another movie with Ash in it, with a new face playing the character, would’ve been ridiculous, and I agree. Remakes only work when they are a re-imagining of the plot of the original movie, which puts new twists on characters, the setting, and the monsters. To attempt to out-do the original with more over the top gore, or replicate, shot by shot, what the director did in the first film would’ve resulted in a movie that would’ve outraged the creators and the fans of the franchise.
Both “The Evil Dead” (1981) and “Evil Dead” (2013) are good horror movies, and both are important to the horror genre. To derisively cast the remake aside, just because there’s a ton of remakes being released right now that are horrible, is to miss out on the opportunity to enjoy an intense, scary, dread-filled movie with awesome sound design and special effects.
Seriously, if you haven’t seen the remake, you need to. ASAP. Slap that baby in your Blu-Ray player, crank up your surround sound speakers and go to crazy town with that bad boy. You won’t regret it.
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