Alright guys, we’re doing things a little differently for the next chunk of reviews. For the next week (or more, depends how quickly I get through them) we will be covering great old movies, and their remakes. How do they stack up? Are the originals truly always the better movies or are we blinded by nostalgia? That’s what I’ll be looking to find out. I’ve always argued that sometimes a remake is good, or even necessary to breathe life back into something that has long since stagnated.
Lets get started with one that’s sure to blow off some wigs…
Kicking things off we’re going back to the far away year of 1981, where we are greeted by cult-icon, and the undisputed king of B, Mr. Bruce Campbell and the beginning of the Evil Dead trilogy. This time around, according to IMDB, we have ….
Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.
Pretty straight forward, and all these years later a pretty old hat synopsis. However, that’s what it is. This is one of those schlocky, cheese fests that has gained an ENORMOUS cult following over the last 33 (holy shit this movie is old) years. Which, frankly, I completely understand. The movie is over the top, fun, gory, silly, and at times it’s genuinely scary. Or at least, creepy. Not to mention the whole thing does have that inherent charm of being made in the 1980s for very (very) little money by the man who went on to give us Evil Dead 2 and Spider Man 3 (thanks a lot for that one, by the way, dick).
All of that being said, this movie’s age really shows. I understand that it was an extremely low-budget movie, and as a result the film was going to suffer a little bit. That being said, the movie actually can be a little bit tough to watch and feels even disjointed at times. Not to mention, there are times in the movie that just feel like the awful waves of noise when the demons are screaming or moaning or laughing. I’m sure the original intention was to make the viewer uncomfortable, but it just comes off as irritating and goes on long enough that it stops being scary.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love this movie for its shlocky, b-tastic badness. However, when we flash forward 32 years to 2013 when we saw our remake… things took a bit of a turn. When I was first informed of the remake, I thought the first thing most of us think when a remake is announced : “Why though?” – – then I saw the first trailer and that all changed.
Here’s what IMDB has to say about the 2013 Evil Dead, first of all.
Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them until only one is left to fight for survival.
A slightly longer explanation of the same thing.
The difference though, was the entire tone of the movie had changed. This was doing exactly what horror remakes need to do. A genuine RE-IMAGINING of the original, instead of a shot-for-shot remake.
Now, this remake is not campy. Not goofy. Not silly. Why? Because the original already fucking did that. Why isn’t Ash in it? Because the original already fucking did that. The remake, or as it calls itself, re-imagining (or even a reboot, if you want to go there) is dark, intense, and downright fucking scary.
The remake is a more competently made movie, and yes I understand that the resources and funding for this were higher, but still. It’s all around a movie visceral and frightening experience. That being said, I like this version because it is more to my taste in horror. I much prefer a frightening experience to a goofy one a lot of the time.
The movie does pay tribute to the original in several ways, including the obvious ones like the shotgun, the chainsaw, and the cellar-dwelling demon. Not to mention, it embraces the INSANELY gory spirit of the original, while presenting in a way that is just more effectively scary. The last 15 minutes of the remake look like a metal music video that I really want to get made. It fucking rains blood, literally.
Another absolutely fantastic thing about the remake is the way they handle the Ash-surrogate. I don’t want to give a crazy amount of information away, because I know how the internet feels about spoilers, but really it’s just handled in a really interesting an unexpected way. At least that’s how I took Mia’s character. Not to mention, the performance given by Jane Levy is phenomenal.
Overall, for me, the remake just works better and I think will age significantly better when we remake it again in 33 years. For now though, when you stack this movie up against the original, in terms of everything other than nostalgia, it wins. The characters are more interesting and slightly better developed, the story is more interesting and the look and feel of the movie is just so much more raw and frightening.
This is obviously how I responded to the movies. Feel free to put down your pitchforks. Also, feel free to relax on remakes all together. They’re going to happen, and no one is going to come into your house and steal your original versions. Chill the fuck out. Sometimes (like in this case) the remake is actually an improvement on the original. There’s no reason to get bent the fuck out of shape, just relax.
So, if it’s not totally obvious yet, I like both of these movies, however the 2013 remake is the winner, and frankly gets added to the Classics list. (Yes, I will be reviewing the sequels to Evil Dead once remakes-week(s) is over)
FINAL GRADES :
1981 : C+
2012 : B+