My favourite horror franchise THE EVIL DEAD is back!! THE MAN a.k.a. BRUCE CAMPBELL is returning as ASH. And visionary genre director SAM RAIMI (in some capacity) is too. They have been flirting with a feature film sequel for years, since their fantasy mash-up finale – ARMY OF DARKNESS. While that dream may have faded, Ash’s adventures WILL continue on TV… “Groovy.” For those unfamiliar with the franchise imagine STARLORD vs ZOMBIES.
I’m hoping we start where we left off. “Shop smart… Shop S-Mart.” Ash takes on the Deadites in a giant store on “Black Friday”(?) Nope, that’s a different type of “zombie”. It doesn’t matter so much what the story is. Concept is King with EVIL DEAD. There’s evil spirits that can possess humans. The more essential ingredient is our main man, Ash. Bruce Campbell developed this cardboard character into one of cult cinema’s most iconic genre heroes. “Hail to the King, baby.”
SAM RAIMI seemingly invented the splat-stick genre as director of the original EVIL DEAD way back in 1982. The first one may feel kind of slow to today’s audience. It was light on true comedy, but truly delivered on the horror & gore. The sequel, DEAD BY DAWN (1987), drew even more on comedy giving us probably the only THREE STOOGES horror movie ever. That said…
EVIL DEAD 2 is absolutely drenched in gore & creative special FX. NERD SHOUT-OUT 2000: The special make-up FX were done by the legendary KNB crew – with Greg NICOTERO, now directing some episodes of THE WALKING DEAD.
I still remember the VHS cover as a kid. It will call to me. That scary skull. But also the quote on the box from Stephen King, “The bloodiest well-made movie ever.” And legendary critic ROGER EBERT’s review on the back, “Manic, inspired, genius. A great time.” King + Ebert = ‘Nuff said.
By ARMY OF DARKNESS (1992), Raimi had a much larger budget. He delivered one of the best “Guy Movies” of all time. I’m so glad my Dad took me & my brother to see it during Florida vacation when I was younger. It was extra awesome since you had to be 18 to see it in Canada. See, Dad is too cool. Now, I don’t know how HE sat through it, but I am forever grateful for that theatrical experience. It was so rad coming back to and bragging to my friends about this R-Rated medieval hero with a chainsaw for a hand.
ARMY is filled with goofy slapstick. Bruce Campbell delivers Duke Nukem one-liners that out-do even Arnold Schwarzenegger. There is also a lot of classic Universal horror elements and Ray Harryhausen fantasy. Sam Raimi is like TARANTINO of the horror genre. His name involved with the TV series is an essential stamp of approval for this movie nerd.
Raimi has demonstrated his versatility by directing movies like FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME (not one zombie) and the original SPIDER-MAN trilogy. Part 2 even had a full-on EVIL DEAD homage with its crazy camerawork and over-the-top sound design.
Raimi returned to horror in a producers capacity before making the severely under-appreciated DRAG ME TO HELL with Alison Lohman. That movie had every body fluid imaginable splattered onto the actress. But all that goo was so effective. Raimi knows how to make us squirm.
EVIL DEAD has such a fond spot in horror fanboys’ hearts the world-over that when the remake / reimaging was announced there was nearly a proverbial riot. For me, the latest rendition was really good. It was one of the best horror movies of recent memory because it actually tried to scare the crap out of us. It was relentless. And it brought the franchise back into the spotlight.
I’ll keep my groovy steel fingers crossed for now, but I have really high expectations for the EVIL DEAD series. I can’t wait to see Bruce Campbell strap back in to that chainsaw hand. I just hope he isn’t low on gas.
For disgruntled fans of THE WALKING DEAD’s slower pace & emphasis on character development, the EVIL DEAD will surely deliver on insane action & brutal violence. And if we’re lucky it will make zombies funny again.
What do you think? Is this “sequel” sacrilegious? Should they let the legend live as it is?
What’s your favourite one-liner from ARMY OF DARKNESS?
Will Greg Nicotero return to do the practical FX? Are you worried they will ruin nostalgia with CG blood & monsters?