Two great things happened to me in 1981 – I was born and Evil Dead was released. Out of all things Evil Dead related, this movie is probably my least favorite, but I truly love it all. This was the movie that first showed a flash of the brilliance that is Sam Raimi and the world would never be the same again.
When it was announced that they would be remaking the film, I cringed, bitched, and cursed. How could they possibly do that!? Well, we all know that we live in a world of remakes, so everything is destined for bastardization. Not that I hate all remakes, but there is a precedent for worry.
I thought then the same thing that I thought when I heard about the Nightmare on Elm St. remake – if they want to make a good film, they can’t attempt to recreate the weird humor that made the original so good. They had to go full dark with it; bloody and serious. While Nightmare didn’t take that advice, Evil Dead did. The remake is dark and unforgiving, without a hint of humor anywhere.
Let’s break it down.
Every time I go back and watch this movie I can’t believe how young Bruce Campbell looks. It is shocking as hell. There is all the same bad acting and terrible plot in this movie as all other similar films of the time, yet this one stands out. It is unique and not just because of what the series became. Sam Raimi’s style is what does it. His ability to recognize the absurd and harness it, molding a feeling of humorous unease. It is silly and scary simultaneously, and that isn’t something you get practically anywhere else. The demons themselves have a specific look. It’s make-up, but it isn’t the same as what the other movies do – this becomes much more prevalent starting with Evil Dead II.
Arguably the most memorable moment doesn’t have Campbell, or the cabin, or the demons. It’s the famous plant rape scene. I still wince when I see it. If you don’t know, vines wrap around a woman until she is pinned to the ground. The vines spread her legs and enter her, basically impregnating her with the evil that will spread through the cabin. I got into an argument a while ago with a friend over the value in this scene. They took an obvious stance on how rape shouldn’t be shown in such a way, that it demeans women, and that it glorifies violence toward them. I agreed, yet I believe that in horror all bets are off. Obviously, one of the facets to the genre that we love is its willingness to circumvent what is considered normal, and present something that is, in a word, FUCKED.
This doesn’t take away from the movie, but I don’t think it really adds anything either. It isn’t like the plot is suddenly awesome and original. It is still generic, just with a few added details. The gore is more realistic and works well. Definitely going for shock in this version.
I have two complaints about the film. The first is that there isn’t a character that captures the interest of the viewer as there was in the first. I am truly grateful that Alvarez didn’t attempt to recreate Ash in another actor, but there is no one to really care about otherwise. Screen time is basically equal, and there is no real main protagonist.
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