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The Evil Dead: 6 Reasons To Watch the New Remake
As a fan of horror going back over three and a half decades, I have a love/hate relationship with horror remakes. See, my parents took me to the drive-in theater to see “Race with the Devil” when I was barely out of the womb. I remember watching the original Evil Dead as a very young child and being horrified, but not in a scarring way. To the contrary, I believe it stirred within me that fascination with the genre. I was both terrified of and transfixed with that serial-killing, dream invading psychopath, Freddy Krueger as a pre-teen, and would save up my allowance to stay up to date on Fangoria and Gorezone.
So, ever since boyhood I have been immersed in the horror genre, but it’s no secret that special effects have come a long way since Sam Raimi delivered the original cult hit, The Evil Dead. It is for this reason that I go into every horror remake with an expectancy that I will be pleased with what I see. Unfortunately, all too often the filmmakers feel that they can improve upon the original, not just in terms of visuals and sound, but story as well. That’s the problem with these movies, in my opinion, and I think most of you would side with me.
Until now my unsolicited – and unheard – advice to Hollywood has been to leave the story alone as much as possible and just make it look good. Well, with The Evil Dead, 2013 edition my philosophy may be changing. From what I can tell, studying the trailers and reading the forums, this incarnation is not changing just the story, but all of the characters. Most notably is the absence of Ash. Sure, Bruce Campbell was just cutting his acting teeth in the first Evil Dead, but as the series progressed his portrayal of the character earned him a place in the cult classic hall of fame. In this version Ash has checked out. There is no Ash, only Zuul. Well, figuratively speaking. The only actual returning characters are the demons (see what I did there? Zuul is a demon, the Deadites are demons. Are those wheels in your head turning?) But even with these massive changes I am still very excited to see this film, and I will quickly offer up six solid reasons I believe you should too, particularly if you are a fan of the original.
1) Budget! – This one is a no-brainer, but back in ’81 writer/director Sam Raimi wasn’t necessarily swimming in cash. This time around the filmmakers seem to have been pretty well set up as far as a production budget goes. While I’m not sure how inflation affects the difference, this time around the filmmakers were blessed with 100 times the budget that Raimi had 30-something years ago ($150,000 vs. $15 million). Money may not buy happiness but it sure goes a long way towards creating a visually pleasing cinematic experience.
2) Raimi, Tapert, and Campbell – While Raimi isn’t directing and Campbell isn’t starring, they, along with Robert Tapert who produced the original Evil Dead trilogy, are producing this incarnation and have all placed their endorsement on the project. In fact, Fede Alvarez who co-wrote and directed the film was hand-picked by Raimi for the project based upon a YouTube film he did which got him a lot of positive exposure. Bruce Campbell has gone on record, using one word to describe the remake/sequel, and that word is “fabulous.”
3) Practical Special Effects – When most of us think about the advances in movie effects in recent years the first three letters that come to mind are undoubtedly CGI, but practical effects have certainly come a very long way since the 1980’s. When watching the trailers one may be surprised to learn this but digital effects were not utilized in this film. Despite the fact that CGI is generally cheaper and faster than practical effects the filmmakers took a decidedly faithful-to-the-original route when it comes to special effects. Apparently the only CGI they utilized was for touch-ups. Now that’s dedication! Thankfully they left the claymation out of the equation this time around.
4) Relatively Unknown Actors – In this era of all-star ensemble casts it’s refreshing to see a group of actors I wouldn’t recognize if I saw them in line at Starbucks. Besides the role of Mia being played by Jane Levy from Suburgatory the cast is full of people I’ve never heard of. This decision, in my opinion, is smart for a couple of reasons. First, more of the budget goes directly into special effects, and considering number 3 above that was a wise choice. Second, the absence of familiar faces can serve to foster that feeling of terror. This may be just me, but it’s comforting to see people I recognize on screen, and that helps to ease my fear. For instance, as disturbing as the film Sinister was, Ethan Hawke’s presence provided me with a mental escape because I had previously seen him kick butt as a vampire in Daybreakers.
5) Gore – Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body), who helped with the screenplay, called the film “unbelievably violent.” Any movie that features a demon-possessed girl cutting her tongue down the middle and then open-mouth kissing another girl as blood oozes from her mouth in the trailer promises to deliver in the gratuitous violence category, and that’s a good thing because fans of the original Evil Dead series are going to expect to be shocked. The desensitization of the American people towards violence in the last 30 years has necessitated that the filmmakers crank of the gore dial to eleven, and from the looks of things they’re pushing for twelve.
6) Deadite in the cellar – ‘Nuff said. The demon-possessed Mia peeking out of the basement and luridly crooning “we’re gonna get you – not another peep – time to go to sleep” is downright chilling.
There you have it. The Evil Dead opens nationwide on April 5th. Go see it and then leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts.