Sunday Matinee: The Evil Dead

Evil_dead_ver1I’m of mixed feelings on the Evil Dead remake. After receiving several positive reviews in the lead up to the film’s release, the movie has just opened in the number one spot at the box office with $26 million. Not too shabby for a movie with a budget of $17 million although it wasn’t the highest opening for a horror movie this year, that is still reserved for Mama. But all the praise has dropped down a little. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is now at 65% instead of the 80% plus it had earlier in the week and the Metacritic score is 58 out of 100. And while it currently has a IMDb rating of 7.5 out of 10 the Cinemascore is a -C which isn’t a good thing.

I have a strong dislike of remakes. There is seldom a reason for them other than an easy buck for Hollywood. They have a built in audience and it’s easier to market the film. The original Evil Dead from 1981 is a masterpiece. Shot an low, low budget of $350, 000, the film went on to make $2,400,000 in it’s initial box office run. I can’t bring myself to bother watching the remake but I did recently re-watched the original film, having seen it several times before. Yet the 1987 sequel always seems to overshadow the film, it’s the movie that everybody seems to remember better.

The movie starts off like a cheap amateurish student film. Five friends are driving out to a cabin in the woods. The cheese factor is high in the car scene and the acting is atrocious. You have to wonder why are you even watching this film. They soon arrive at the cabin and discover the Naturon Demonto, the Book of the Dead in the basement along with a tape recorder. The group of friends play the tape recorder and discover that an archaeologist has discovered the book in a dig and is translating the various incantations on the tape. This awakens an evil in the woods and Ash’s (Bruce Campbell) sister becomes the first victim. From there the film runs on a mad sort of energy. The camera work, the cheap but effective gore effects and the concluding stop-motion all work in the film’s favour creating something more than another cheap slasher flick.

The original film started the career of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, along with giving future filmmaker Joel Coen his first work as an assistant editor. It launched a successful cult franchise and influenced a generation of filmmakers. The remake has managed to make the producers some money and nothing more.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka spends most of his life watching movies and reading comic books, using his vast knowledge of genre culture for evil instead of good.

8 thoughts on “Sunday Matinee: The Evil Dead”

  1. I’m with you. I’ll be avoiding the remake. It seems to have ignored all the stuff about the originals that made them interesting and charming.

  2. Not all remakes are bad. The original “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers” is, of course, a classic, but the remake with Donald Sutherland didn’t do violence to the concept, and is worth watching. That said, the third remake, “The Invasion”, with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, is rubbish.

  3. Speaking of body-snatching sci-fi movies, how about John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing? That was great, and when I first saw it I remember thinking it was closer to the book (Who Goes There by W.C. Campbell) than the first movie.

  4. The Thing was a good and book-faithful remake, for sure.
    Oh, and Mr. Hnetka, “its initial box office run”.

  5. The Coen brothers’ True Grit was also an improvement on the original (again by sticking closer to the source material).

    But I think it’s safe to say, based on the trailer, that what’s going on with the Evil Dead remake is that it’s rejecting all the humor, daring and lo-fi goofiness of the original and just focusing in on the cruelty.

    The first Evil Dead was definitely more horrific and less comic than the sequel. But it was also manic and bizarre. This remake just looks mean.

    I was kind of hoping that Cabin in the Woods would usher in a new era of horror movies that breaks away from the torture porn. But so far I’m not seeing it.

  6. The reviews I’m reading say there are some good jokes in it. But it’s mostly a supremely gory demon massacre.

  7. Torture porn hasn’t been confined to horror movies. There’s an obscure (deservedly) l1970 Western called “Cry Blood, Apache” that I came across on late-night TV many years ago. The depictions of slow revenge death are awful. Joel McCrae must have really needed the money.

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