Friday, April 5, 2013

Movie Review—Evil Dead

I remember the first time I saw The Evil Dead quite clearly. My dad, my best friend, and I were at the Point Arena General Store back in the mid-80s. It was a Friday afternoon, and we were looking for a movie to pick out and rent and watch that night; my dad told my friend and I to pick out one. I wanted to rent Movie A, while my friend wanted to rent Movie B. We argued about which one to get long enough that my dad was getting frustrated, and then one of us (I like to think it was me) saw a third movie. Something called "The Evil Dead" that had a blurb from Stephen King on the cover and showed a half-naked woman being pulled into the ground by a zombie hand. We decided to rent that one.

Later that night, after the movie finished, I was thunderstruck. I'd seen plenty of horror movies already, but I'd never seen one quite like The Evil Dead. Its over the top gore combined with its over the top energy made me an instant fan... even if my dad hated it. He likes movies where the good guys win.

A few years later, I was at a DIFFERENT store (Rollerville Junction, near the Point Arena Lighthouse) looking for a movie to rent, and I saw something that I couldn't believe. A sequel? To Evil Dead? Yes please! And then in college, I remember seeing Evil Dead 2 in the theater despite being sick as a dog, and seeing Army of Darkness in the theater where no one but my friends and I seemed to realize it was a comedy.

So yeah. I'm one of those Evil Dead fans who's been waiting for decades for a new installment in the series, and who was watching nervously as word of the remake became confirmed. It wasn't until the red-band trailer that I started to let myself hope.

Evil Dead is not the same movie as "The Evil Dead" or "Evil Dead 2." It is not better than those two movies.

That said, it probably comes as close as possible to being as good as those two movies as you can get.
Breaking Bad is no longer the holder of the "Most Horrifying Box Cutter Scene" trophy.

In fact, in some areas, it exceeds the original. The music's better. The effects are better. And I frankly think that the setup for the storyline is better. But it's lacking the final magic spark of Sam Raimi directing and Bruce Campbell acting.

That said, it's also a drop-dead serious movie. There's no comedy in Evil Dead, just as there wasn't any in the original. The movie knows you've seen the original, and while it throws in some delightful touchstones (a necklace making a skull shape on the ground... a line of dialogue here and there... a chainsaw in a woodshed...), there's quite a few significant changes from the original's plot that are actually quite welcome and cool.

The effects, in particular, are worth mentioning. I can't remember the last time I saw a horror movie where pretty much every single gore effect was done practically—there's no CGI gore in this movie. There's barely any CGI in the movie at all, in fact. And with the physical effects done so well... it's kind of like a wake up slap-in-the-face as to how visceral and powerful movie magic can be. CGI is well and good, but you know how they do it. There's some effects in this movie that I simply do not know how they pulled them off without killing some people.

And one last thing. While I kind of wish they'd gone a bit farther and a bit more over the top with some of the effects and story elements... I have to admit. I'm flabbergasted that this movie ONLY got an R-rating. It's easily one of the goriest movies I've seen in theaters in a long, long time.

Evil Dead...
  • ... has the best soundtrack of the year so far, and it's gonna be a hard one to beat.
  • ... is, apparently, not a remake or reboot as much as it is an actual sequel. They're working on Evil Dead 2 already, as well as Army of Darkness 2, and plan to do Evil Dead 3... and supposedly Evil Dead 4 will bridge the remakes and the original into a single storyline!
  • ... had one day where they used 50,000 gallons of blood in one scene. It's pretty obvious which scene that is when it happens, trust me.
  • ... has real vomit in it.
  • ... features Sam Raimi's car, so you KNOW it's legit!
  • ... is not "The Most Terrifying Film I Will Ever Experience." That honor probably goes to Martyrs or Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project or Frontier(s) for me... probably Martyrs, since the fear has faded for the other three for me somewhat.
  • ... has a cute little stinger at the very end of the credits, so make sure you stay to see it!
Grade: A

(And if the above trailer wasn't gory enough... check out the red band trailer below, but don't say I didn't warn you!)

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