Ok listen up you primitive screw heads :P This time I've decided to do thing's a little bit differently. I'm not going to just review one single movie, but instead wanted to focus on a complete series of film's, four in total. To avoid reading fatigue I'll be posting one film at a time. With the intention of breaking it down film by film, and discussing just what make's every single release so damn memorable. Why has it stood the test of time, and why has it's popularity not only endured, but surprisingly grown exponentially in more recent year's? Leading to an entire expanded universe spanning a billion comic books, video-game's, action figure's, trading cards, t-shirt's etc, etc. For me, this is honestly such an epic undertaking. Not only is there a hell of a lot of writing involved when setting out to analyse four complete film's, but considering the dramatic genre change with each film, it's also a bit daunting. Daunting because each film, if removed of franchise ties, would (and does) happily stand on it's own two feet as a solid, (revolutionary) piece of genre cinema, and also daunting for me on a more personal level. I've adored this franchise since I first discovered it all those year's ago, way back in my high school days.
In my opinion, the first three film's are true classics, so clever and solid, original and fun genre flick's, you could easily watch and enjoy any single film even without all the sequel connections. Despite forming a complete whole when viewed all together, when watched solo they are definitely their own thing. Each film in the franchise having a completely different tone and feel to the previous entry. Sometime's at the cost of story continuity between film's, which in any other film would be a major problem, but here, somehow it all just adds to the batshit crazy charm these film's exude. Luckily for me, I love this franchise to pieces, so this giant writing task I've given myself isn't a bad thing. I'm actually looking forward to getting down to all the nitty, gritty details, and being such a fan there certainly isn't any shortage of stuff for me to talk about. I could easily get a little lost just gushing over the sheer brilliance of each individual film, going on and on for pages and pages, but i will do my best to remain unbiased and keep thing's mostly professional...ish
It's my favorite horror series of all time, and I'm a horror nut. To me this is the pinnacle. Though it's never really been defined by being 'just' horror, it's crazy, it's original, it transcend's genre's. Just one of the many reason's I find it so damn brilliant. If you are asking the question is it really deserving of such praise? I'll happily answer for you, yes, yes it most definitely is. I want to express not only the enormous impact the series had on cinema, and the entire 'horror' genre, but also the impact it had on me. It's funny how certain thing's in life can trigger instant memories, sometimes decades old. Like hearing a forgotten song on the radio, then being transported back to a very specific time in you're life. In this instance, for me the "certain thing" is the cinematic masterpiece 'The Evil Dead', and the time? The year 2000.
Even to this day, when i re-watch the original Evil Dead, I immediately form a picture perfect image in my head, sixteen year's old, stoned and chilling with mate's in a caravan parked in a friend's backyard, that was exactly as hygienic as one would imagine, smoking pot, listening to 'Korn' and watching horror movie's, and the one constant was 'Evil Dead'. The original. Horror movie's would come and go but Evil Dead was re-watched every single Friday night (along with a healthy diet of Tales from the crypt season's) at some point in the night, one of us would suggest it and everyone would agree. My point, not sure if I have one, aside's from trying to point out the sheer brilliance of this unassuming little B-grade masterpiece, which begun production all the way back in 1978, and had still captivated this dorky group of teen's all these year's later, thus disproving the need for a modern remake, so today's audience could relate, because apparently the original wasn't relevant? While a decent remake, it did feel completely unnecessary. So what exactly made this little film so special? Well it's because nothing else was nearly as inventive as this gem. Just a simple tale about some teen's just looking to party in the wood's... somehow resulting in a demonic massacre, all cleverly delivered with a biting sense of humor and bucket's of gore. Leading to crazy ass scenario after crazy ass scenario, how did this trashy, little, low budget gore film give way to such pure unrestrained lunacy, packed to the brim with high concept idea's? It's like someone gave a world renowned movie director a blank cheque and said "do whatever you want" except for the fact it was the director's first film, and he was working on a miniscule budget. This is a true testament to Sam Raimi's directing talent, thus giving the world it's first glimpse of a future Hollywood heavyweight (Spider-Man trilogy 2002, Oz the great and powerful, Drag me to hell) A tale of ancient Lovecraftian book's, demon resurrection and possession, hellish dimension's, the most brutal tree raping ever filmed (yep) oh and don't forget one scary ass witch hiding in the fruit cellar, beware! :O This film has it all, every last mm of film filled to the brim with sheer inventiveness. Thrown in to a living nightmare our poor reluctant hero, a likable 'everyman' is forced to endure pure hell on earth. We're watching this hapless dude's descent into madness (that laughing mirror scene, brilliant) unfortunately carving up his possessed (now ex) girlfriend is just the beginning of his trouble's. Mr Ashley, AKA Ash, AKA Ash William's (as recognised in the expanded universe... comic's, game's etc...) gleefully played by none other than 'genre king', Bruce "The Man" Campbell (Maniac Cop, Bubba Ho-tep, My name is Bruce) in the role that would forever change his film career and set him on a path to pop culture icon and self professed B-Grade king. Though the first film's depiction of Ash is far removed from the shotgun toting, chainsaw wielding, one liner spouting cartoon superhero he would soon become, here we have a more refrained, more realistic take, just a dude thrown into the proverbial shit, not perfect, infallible or even that heroic, just a guy dealing as best he can.
EVIL DEAD (1982)
Here we are back at the beginning. This is the one, the one that started the legacy. Now an entire, epic franchise, featuring two beloved film sequel's, a remake film, a bajillion action figure's, numerous successful comic book line's (with some of the craziest crossover's ever, ranging from Re-animator to Xena and Obama. Even joining the Marvel universe to kick some superhero zombie ass!), three videogame's, Hail to the king, Fistful of boomstick, and Regeneration respectfully, not including mobile game's, or guest appearance's ie Poker night feat. Ash and Brock Sampson, gotta be the manliest game ever! ;) (on a sidenote all game'e were pretty damn decent in my opinion, still own the latter two on the original x-box, both underrated, and the original psone game was fun back in the day too, for a standard Resident Evil rip that is) Now after all these year's of fan speculation about a possible fourth film... just when we had all given up on Ash ever donning the chainsaw for another round... when a remake appeared the final nail in the coffin for poor Ash... doomed to forever be stranded working a dead end job at S-mart, fighting the occasional deadite... or lost in some alternative future?? Depending which ending to Army of Darkness you believe of course? An announcement was made recently, news so huge, fan's couldn't believe what they were hearing, an Evil Dead television series coming next year?? Continuing the series in episodic form with an aged Ash coming out of retirement to kick some deadite ass? Ash Vs the Evil Dead! It even has a title? Wow, never thought I would see the day. Raimi's back, Tapert's back and of course the one and only Campbell will be returning to the iconic role that made him the cult star he is today. With that just around the corner it seemed a necessary time to take a trip back in time, hopefully stopping in 1981, and not plummetting to the middle ages, when two college couple's naively thought a weekend away might be a fun and romantic idea. WRONG!
The film open's with a viewpoint through the eye's of some unknown entity, forcefully powering through the wood's at breakneck speed, from the opening credits there is an instant feeling of dread, look's great too, this film is a great showcase for Raimi's trademark, stylistic, kinetic camera work, a style he has honed in almost everything he's released since, it all started here. Upon arrival the kid's find the dilapidated cabin, get settled, crack a bottle of wine and stupidly fool around with a strange tape recorder. Unwittingly opening a gateway to hell after the recording accidentally recite's ancient incantation's, resulting in an all out attack from otherworldly demonic forces. As each of his friend's fall prey to possession, Ash is forced to fight for his life, desperately trying to stay alive until sunrise. For such a low budget film it really is incredibly inventive, skeleton's dance in the moonlight, the wood's are alive, a ghastly witch named Henrietta hide's in the darkness of the cabin's cellar, there really is no shortage of ideas on offer, ensuring this hellish rollercoaster ride never slows or get's boring. As the gore flies we are treated to some truly horrific act's, albeit totally creative it's definitely not a film for the faint of heart, unfairly banned in certain countries for many year's, though it's infamy only added to it's popularity, with the 'King' of horror himself, Mr Stephen King, citing it as one of his favorite film's and the "most ferociously original film of the year" after an early festival viewing, a tagline that did wonder's for the film's marketing and eventual release, the quote plastered on every poster advertisement and VHS cover, what a great guy, definitely played a big part in helping the film reach a much broader audience.
While filming, everyone involved in the production were apparently enduring crazy hardships, due to lack of fund's and being novice's, a general lack of experience. Getting lost scouting location's, suffering freezing cold temperatures, being just some of the reported problem's, with some actor's claiming their worst film experience ever. In the end, the resulting 'horror' masterpiece, proved all the suffering worth it, birthing a true classic of the genre. The Evil Dead legacy just keep's going from strength to strength and with the recent television series announcement as well as a recent comic book relaunch, luckily shows no sign of slowing down. Being such a huge fan of the original, I wasn't exactly impressed when the remake was announced, but hey, if the remake interests people enough to check out the original then it's only a good thing, hopefully ensuring a new generation of fan's for this timeless classic.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read, and hope you enjoyed, like usual feedback in the comments section is much appreciated :) stay tuned for my next article regarding 'Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn' this one I cannot wait to post, and you thought I held the first film in high regard, the sequel, to me at least, is far better, the absolute pinnacle of horror and my all time favorite horror film bar none. Take the first film's off the wall lunacy and then times it by ten and you might be in the right ball park. Raimi released a cult classic on a low budget, then proved to the world how truly genius he is with a few added dollars, when he followed it up with a sequel that better's the first film in every way possible, becoming not just a cult classic, but 'THE' cult classic, to which all other's will forever be measured, retaining the first film's gore/horror quota with an injection of slapstick comedy, creating something truly original and unique, a one of a kind film that'll be remembered in the annals of cinema history forevermore. Giving us our first glimpse at the real 'Ash', not the grounded, scared teen but instead the boomstick blasting, trash talking cartoon character we all know and love.
So look forward to seeing you then, when we return to that twisted cabin for more gruesome shenanigans
Remember follow me on-