Horror Ten Spot: 10 Reasons to see Evil Dead this weekend!

Well well friends and fiends, the time is nigh...the EVIL DEAD has been resurrected! Now, I'm like most of you out there, highly skeptical if not downright loathsome of remaking classic films, especially ones that meant so much to all us horror-hounds growing up. And upon first glance, EVIL DEAD seems no different than other remakes simply trying to capitalize on a popular title, no matter how blasphemous or unfaithful to the original it is. But upon further examination, Fede Alvarez's EVIL DEAD remake actually seems to display the proper amount of respect to its originator. If not in terms of the camp and cartoonish humor, certainly in the ingeniously visceral, in-your-face side of what Sam Raimi laid down in 1981. Seriously, just peep the trailers to see how gnarly the violence promises to be in the update. Still, there's no telling if the quality of the remake will justify its existence, after-all, few do. But what the hell, I know many of us are actually interested to see this one, so it's time to relinquish the cynicism and instead mull over the Top Ten reasons to see EVIL DEAD this weekend!


Unlike Wes Craven to the ELM STREET remake (which ended up eating giant donkey-balls), Sam Raimi is credited as producer on the EVIL DEAD redo. Because the 1981 original was such a low-budget independent film, Raimi wisely retained his own rights to the film over the years, instead of relinquishing them to a studio. Therefore, typical studio interference (endless notes, cuts, edits, etc.) should not have been an issue for director Fede Alvarez. The only person he probably had to answer to was Raimi himself, who, judging by DRAG ME TO HELL, seems to have at least some juice in his balls...even if he is off making kiddy wizard movies. If such an assumption is safe, Raimi likely censored zero of what Alvarez wanted to achieve...an assertion also supported by the brutal trailers for the film. More, Alvarez can likely channel the same anarchic vibe of Raimi's original, a vibe Raimi himself may not be able to radiate at this point in his super-commercial career. If done well, Raimi's legend might be able to live on vicariously through Alvarez, a prospect I'm sure Raimi is aware of and excited by.


Nowadays, any horror flick rated-R alone seems something to celebrate. So when you earn a hard-R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language...as EVIL DEAD has done, shoot, we might all be in for the cinematic bloodbath of the year, and it's only April. Again, the trailers for the flick, along with critical word of mouth, posits this flick as being one of the grisliest, goriest and most gruesome to come about in ages. If that proves true, then the flick could certainly leave a lasting impression. Or an Indelible scar if you will. Which, if you really think about, could be the aspect that if not ameliorates, differentiates itself from Raimi's original. I mean, I don't really associate THE EVIL DEAD flicks as extremely violent, I more associate them with Raimi's cartoonish style and zany humor. This rebirth seems far more sinister in its sincerity, and certainly much more disturbing its violence.


FEDE ALVAREZ - When properly prepped and supported, first time filmmakers can often strike cinematic alchemy. The hunger, the youth, the energy, the blissful ignorance...can all work in concert to achieve great results from a feature first timer. So with a good blessing from Sam Raimi, young Uruguayan writer/director Fede Alvarez, who only has four short films under his belt, has earned his crack at a potential hit feature debut with EVIL DEAD. As is usually the case, being a writer/director will help Fede realize a singular vision, even if he did co-script with longtime pal Rodo Sayagues (not to mention Diablo Cody). Alvarez's last short film came in 2009, the 5-minute robot invasion PANIC ATTACK! Budgeted at an estimated $300, the short showed enough promise to land him the EVIL DEAD gig. Now imagine what he could do with a budget increased by 4,666%!


$14 million is a hell of a lot of money, no doubt, but in terms of modern day Hollywood filmmaking, it's chicken feed. Major studio tent-poles like TDKR or THE LONE RANGER cost upward of a quarter-billion dollars...just to give a point of reference. Of course, the dictum "time is money" has never been more apt than in the film biz. Generally speaking, the more money you have, the more time you have to make the film you want. The less money, the less time. However, many have noted that less money also affords more creativity, a greater work ethic, and stronger collaboration...all at the cost of leisure. No pampered stars waiting around in trailers with for a week just to light a single shot. Hell no. It's about rolling up your sleeves, getting in the trenches and shooting a feature film in some 30 days or so. Well, given its director, low-profile cast and single location...EVIL DEAD feels like it has that kind of energy.


Save for a few dissenting voices, critical word of mouth regarding EVIL DEAD has been largely positive (be sure to peep Arrow's review ASAP). Even the newest poster for the flick is laced with plaudits from various review outlets, the through line being how the flick is easily the gnarliest, bloodiest and most extreme mainstream horror joint to come about in years. So, on a purely visual and visceral viewpoint, the flick is winning people over. How well the narrative, performances and resolution plays out seems less convincing, at least in the quick skim I've given said reviews. Only time will tell how well, if at all, the movie will hold up, but when non-horror centric sites like THR and Variety give the film decent marks, you know its appeal has broadened beyond just us twisted horror fanatics.


The easiest way to distract a viewer from a good story is by casting highly visible, overexposed stars. Seriously, could you even remotely fathom seeing EVIL DEAD if it starred the likes of Channing Tatum and Kristen Stewart? F*ckin' ridiculous right? Well, props to Alvarez for choosing actors that, while talented, have remained anonymous enough for us to stay engaged in the film without thinking about the latest tabloid gossip associated with them. Instead, we can actually see them as characters rather than actors, which goes a long way in believing a performance. Of course, the more we believe, the more disturbed we're bound to become. Even Bruce Campbell, who is credited as producer on the film, wisely (in my opinion) declined making a cameo appearance, precisely for the reason I'm alluding to. No winks, nudges and cute in-jokes to the original.


One of the truly exciting prospects about EVIL DEAD is its insistent use of practical special and visual FX. Not only does it mirror the original in that way, it's just so damn refreshing in this day and age to see a FX team get down and dirty with real, physical props to achieve its violent sequences. So often these days, CGI is used as a cheap and convenient way to depict violence, 95% of the time doing nothing but calling attention to the artifice of the production. And as soon as the artifice is spotted, any credibility the film may have had goes flying out the window instantly. Put simply: practical FX often equals realism, CG equals phoniness. I'm glad Alvarez is aware of this, as everything we've seen in the promo material for EVIL DEAD looks brutally, but more importantly, plausibly violent.


Perhaps even more unnerving than the extreme violence promised in EVIL DEAD, could be the perverse bodily violation depicted in some of the promo pushes for the film. Now, we all know about the infamous tree rape scene from the original, which I'm sure more than a fair share of us are glad to see revamped in this version (a gnarly revamping by the way). And not to spoil anything, but did you happen to catch the blood-smeared sapphic imbroglio the flick also features? That's right y'all, at the very least, completely gore-sodden girlies lock lips in what has to be a disgusting yet titillating sequence. Not simply a gratuitous one either, the promo makes it appear as if the demonic soul is trying to transfer itself into the host of another, which makes the whole notion that much more frightening.


I know, I know...many will no doubt construe Diablo Cody's involvement in the film as one of the weaker elements, but allow me to argue the contrary. I agree, Cody's dialogue can come across as annoyingly stilted, but let's recall the stint in JUNO where the title character bonds with Jason Bateman over horror flicks. Not sure about you, but before I even knew who Cody was, I came away from that scene thinking...cool, at least the writer had a passion for classic horror flicks (WIZARD OF GORE, SUSPIRIA, etc). Then consider JENNIFER'S BODY, which I think is actually a tad better than its remembered as. More, I absolutely loved YOUNG ADULT, though that surely has more to do with my infatuation with Charlize. Point I'm trying to make though is I've noticed a growth in Cody's writing, away from the cringe-inducing hipster-lingo and into more substantive material. Whether that proves true on EVIL DEAD, only time will tell, but I view her involvement as more of a coup than a crutch.


Alright, let's kick things off with the most obvious and visible indicators of what to expect with EVIL DEAD...the promo material! Red-band, green-band, a simple teaser trailer...no matter how much the producers have chosen to show us...EVIL DEAD looks f*cking vicious! Now, that's not to say the whole film will live up to the stunning visuals shown in the trailer, in fact, we've seen dozens of utterly awesome trailers for other movies, only to be let down by the entirety of the film. So there's no guarantee based on the trailer alone. That said, the promo clips we've seen also support what a balls-to-the-wall splatter fest EVIL DEAD promises to be. I just hope said promo clips aren't stuffed with the absolute best the flick has to offer. If the clips are essentially a money-shot best-of compilation, we could be disappointed with the film as a whole. Somehow I doubt's the case.

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