Sam Raimi changed the face of horror thanks to his brilliant mix of scares, gore and comedy in the original EVIL DEAD trilogy – THE EVIL DEAD, EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN and ARMY OF DARKNESS. These three films represent the very best in the genre and have inspired many a filmmaker looking to terrify and entertain an eager audience. And with the release of Fede Alvarez “re-birth” of EVIL DEAD, the franchise has become what is arguably the most consistently impressive horror film series ever made. For me, EVIL DEAD helped shape my love of cinema with its morbid humor and creative imagery.
To say that it was an honor to host an evening of all four EVIL DEAD features would be a massive understatement. When Regency Theatres Westwood Village management team member Jason Coleman asked Arrow in the Head to be a part of this amazing festival, it was a dream come true for yours truly. Watching it all come to fruition was absolutely mind blowing, especially when I found out that they would be screening the first two EVIL DEAD films in glorious 35 mm. It would have been enough just to see these amazing flicks on the big screen, but it didn’t end there. With likes of Evil Dead alum Ted Raimi, Greg Nicotero, Scott Spiegel, Theresa Tilly (aka Sarah York), Ellen Sandweiss and Betsy Baker making an appearance, the night became an epic celebration of movies, mayhem and more.
The night began with the first EVIL DEAD and the packed auditorium cheered in delight from the very beginning. Coleman had prepared a cinema lover’s dream with a wide variety of trailers before each feature. This included a mix of genres and cult classics that was almost as thrilling as the movies themselves. A few of these well-placed trailers included THE ROAD WARRIOR, ALIEN, ROLLER BOOGIE (the Linda Blair roller skating flick), as well as the recent “biting” feature TEETH which had every guy in the audience squirming. The highlight for me may have been the classic – and dated – clip of legendary actor Charlton Heston taking a break from a round of tennis to talk about the rating system. This received quite a few hoots and hollers from the audience when he explained the “X-rating.”
Yet as great as these little slices of movie history heaven were, the night belonged to EVIL DEAD. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this was the greatest audience I’ve had the pleasure of watching a movie with. The sense of thrills, fun and wonder was in spades as Bruce Campbell first appeared on-screen in the original classic until the final bloody conclusion in EVIL DEAD 2013. There was laughter, cheers and a real sense of child-like fun as the crowd gleefully partook in the evening’s festivities. My only regret is that I did not get to sit and watch all of the movies with this amazing crowd as much as I would have liked to. That being said, I was also lucky enough to hob nob with the EVIL DEAD royalty in attendance.
Before each Q and A that we presented, we had a little one on one time with Raimi, Spiegel, Nicotero and the lovely ladies of the Evil Dead – who will be appearing this weekend at the Days of the Dead convention in Los Angeles so I strongly suggest you go and meet them in person this Saturday. As a fan myself, this was an incredible experience but what was even more fantastic was seeing the audience get a chance to ask a few questions and really see why Ted Raimi is a lightning bolt of energy. Luckily we had my man Rusty Eltringham as well as Rich Breeze to capture it all in for an upcoming Arrow in the Head exclusive look at the Evil Dead Fest – keep your eyes out for that early next week.
This was an event created for the fans! After all, they are the ones who have made EVIL DEAD a part of film history. And for me and everyone else involved, it was the fans that gave this festival life. The energy and the love that they have for these classic films, as well as the incredibly warm reception Alvarez’ latest received proved once again that Raimi’s vision lives on. We’d like to thank all of those at the Westwood Village for making this dream a reality as well as Ted Raimi, Scott Spiegel, Greg Nicotero, Theresa Tilly, Betsy Baker and Ellen Sandweiss for sharing in on the fun. I’d also like to give special thanks to my very own entourage, Rusty Eltringham, Rich Breeze, Philip Barrett and Justin Alsman who literally kept me focused and John Fallon aka The Arrow himself who worked closely with Mr. Coleman to make this happen. And most importantly, thanks to the fans for the energy, adoration and love that they brought to make this incredible event complete!
LOOK OUT NEXT WEEK FOR A VIDEO CHRONICLING THE EVENT!