It’s the last day of our Halloween movie special week, and the best way to end it is with even more blood and guts, but also some humor, which can all be found in the Evil Dead flicks.
The Evil Dead
(USA 1981, director: Sam Raimi)
Five friends’ fun time in a cabin in the woods turns out to become a case of demonic possession and a fight for survival.
Classic horror movies, especially of the splatter genre variety, don’t always age well, as the effects have become dated, the acting is bad, and one usually doesn’t find much of a story. In the case of The Evil Dead, the last two points are valid, because the performances make for unintentionally funny moments and there isn’t much else going on besides the claustrophic setting. However, the gory scenes are just as impressive and disgusting today as they were back then and the fast-moving camera sequences make one forget that it’s a low-budget movie.
The simple premise is enough to create a sense of fear, and Bruce Campbell does his best to be an everyday man who is mostly covered in blood and guts. If the whole package has stood the test of time is another matter. There are certainly some uncomfortable scenes, like a woman being raped by a tree or a corpse without a head trying to have sex with the anti-hero (which makes the new German 16+ age certification, compared to its former banned status, all the more bewildering). Still, as a video nasty, this is to be expected, and with a rather short runtime, it’s still a guilty pleasure to watch after all these years.
Evil Dead II
(USA 1987, director: Sam Raimi)
Young man Ashley and his girlfried Annie arrive at a secluded cabin in the woods where a professor’s research has brought back demons that soon terrorize them and another group of people.
The first movie was full of blood and gore with some frightening and controversial scenes, and while the sequel or rather alternative version has a lot of this as well, it tones down the horror a bit and replaces it with more humor.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t any disgusting special effects, but it’s a much more enjoyable movie, because its over-the-top violence is complemented with slapstick, while also hinting at the hero Ash would later become. With more action, crazy camera positions and an unbelievable performance by Campbell, one easily forgets about the rest of the cast that can’t quite act and a story one has already seen before, only this time with a bit more background information.
Army of Darkness
(USA 1992, director: Sam Raimi)
Hardware store clerk Ash accidentally arrives in medieval times and has to both find the Necronomicon and defeat an army of the dead, brought back by his own evil twin.
The third and last Evil Dead movie is probably the most accessible and mainstream entry in the series. What this means is that the amount of blood and gore is kept to a minimum and slapstick elements as well as one-liners are too numerous to count. Even if this sounds like a huge departure and the ultimate downfall of the series, it’s only a logical step, at least during a time when Raimi and his producer Tapert dabbled in TV productions like Xena and Hercules which had a lot of silly action and monsters.
However, if one can live with that concession and that Ash turns out to be a rather obnoxious guy at times, one can have a lot of fun with the movie. Special effects and monster make-up are rather trash-y, but there are enough action and memorable scenes, e.g. Ash fighting mini-versions of himself, so that one can enjoy it as a Saturday late afternoon or midnight madness piece of entertainment.
(USA 2013, director: Fede Alvarez)
Five friends go to a cabin in the woods to help one of them overcome her drug problems, but as they discover the Book of the Dead, demons and bloody chaos soon take over.
It takes a lot of courage to revive a controversial horror splatter movie from the 80ies and make it as disturbing and gory to shock today’s audience. While some may find the remake to be lacking in its low budget look, many might not be able to sit through the experience.
It’s uncompromisingly violent and makes the original Raimi movie look very dated. Even the infamous tree scene is even more difficult to watch, while there are many more possession sequences that are on par with The Conjuring 1+2, only much gorier, especially towards the end. The characters are not the most memorable, but compared to the original, at least the acting is better and the drama elements work with the story. It’s certainly not the most original horror movie, but it’s a true return to form without any comedy elements, back to a time when frightening the audience or making people look (or walk) away in disgust was more important that pleasing everyone.
If you liked reading this article, make sure to LIKE it or comment on it on EMR’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the Amazon links and buying the products also helps ;).