This Schlocktober, Comics Bulletin will be exploring the world of horror cinema, featuring thirty one films released between Halloween 2012 and Halloween 2013. Next up is writer/director Fede Alvarez‘ Evil Dead.
From the start this was an idea I dreaded. Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are two of my favorite horror films of all time, and Army of Darkness ranks up there pretty close. However, I haven’t really been impressed with Sam Raimi‘s work since he went mainstream and started making Spider Hyphen Man movies (and don’t get me started on Drag Me to Hell). At the same time, I also had mixed feelings about the directing job being handed off to the virtually unknown Alvarez, who apparently won the gig on the strength of his short film work. None of which had I seen.
I fully expected this to be a train wreck of extraordinary magnitude; an unnecessary remake cash-grab like Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween before it.
However, working from his own screenplay, co-written with his writing partner Rodo Sayagues, Alvarez crafted a brutal, no-holds barred schlockfest that lives up the memory of the original and also serves to effectively reboot the series. In fact, if rumors are to be believed, it may actually instead be an in-continuity continuation of the series!
Vaguely echoing the plotline of Resolution, Evil Dead follows Mia (Jane Levy), her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), and their friends as they go out to their run-down family cabin to help Mia kick her heroin addiction. Once there we move to more familiar ground as The Book of the Dead is discovered, evil is awakened, and massive amounts of bodily damage is inflicted to just about everybody.
For gorehounds like me, this movie satisfied my craving in a way no other film had come close to by its April release date. In fact, this film was more like a Japanese gorefest à la Tokyo Gore Police or Machine Girl than anything we normally get in the States – especially once we got to that blood-soaked finale.
The conceit of kicking heroin is a brilliant move that forces the other characters to question the horrors Mia is witness to, before they all get a facefull of horror. It also provides motivation for sticking around once she starts getting weird. Using their loyalty and friendship as the chains that keep them in the cabin until it’s too late adds to the psychological brutality in play here.
I loved that.
In a horror film landscape where remakes are a dime-a-dozen and usually aren’t even a shadow of the originals, Evil Dead does the near-impossible and not only lives up what came before, but carries the franchise forward.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor/editor for Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is available at Amazon US & UK, along with his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation (US & UK). He recently contributed the 1989 chapter to The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s (US & UK) and has kicked off Comics Bulletin Books with Mondo Marvel Volumes One (US & UK) and Two (US & UK). Paul is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy.