Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Remake Comparison Project - The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Horror


Cody and Priscilla venture into the woods with The Evil Dead 1981 and its 2013 remake.


The reason we chose to cover the Evil Dead movies for this month's Remake Comparison is the fact that the TV series Ash vs. Evil Dead has just made its debut on Starz. Bruce Campbell returning to his most iconic role for the first time since Army of Darkness is a major event well worth celebrating, and we have marked the occasion with an in-depth look at the film that started it all and the remake that followed more than thirty years later.

After spending their youths making short films, 19-year-old director Sam Raimi and his friends felt like it was time for them to make the jump into the feature world. Cinematic history had proven that the way to really have an impact on the movie-going public with a low budget production was to make a horror movie, so that's the genre they set their focus on. After studying horror films that had come before, Raimi wrote up a script for his own entry in the genre - a script that was too short by professional standards, but he would make it work. A short film version of the concept was shot and used to help Raimi and his cohorts (most notably producer Robert Tapert and star Bruce Campbell) raise the money needed for the feature, money they gathered from various sources, including family members and wealthy dentists.

Armed with their low budget, a cast that mixed short film regulars with new hires, and a couple of 16mm cameras, the Michigan-based amateurs headed south to Tennessee to make their movie soon after Raimi's twentieth birthday. The shoot at the remote cabin location they had found went on for longer than expected, stretching from late fall 1979 into early 1980, and most of the cast and crew left the production at the midway point, but Raimi, Campbell, Tapert, and the few others who remained behind accomplished what they set out to do. Post-production was a long process, some additional photography stretched out over the next couple years, but all the hardship was worth it. The decision to make a feature turned out to be a very wise one. When the finished film was finally released in 1983, horror fans embraced it as an instant classic, and some very successful careers had officially begun.


The movie starts out with a typical horror scenario. A group of college-age kids on a road trip to vacation at an isolated cabin in the woods. The group consists of Bruce Campbell as nice guy Ash; Betsy Baker as his girlfriend Linda; Ellen Sandweiss as his sister Cheryl; Hal Delrich (a.k.a. Richard DeManicor) as his buddy Scott; and Sarah York (a.k.a. Theresa Tilly) as Scott's girlfriend Shelly.

I know that singing in the car without any songs playing is common in the United States, but it seems kinda weird to me. Every time I see it in movies, it puzzles me a little. Maybe if you're singing to children, it's alright, but grown ups singing to no song to entertain themselves in the car is a bizarre concept to me.

Like the filmmakers, the characters have come from Michigan into Tennessee. Scott rented their cabin destination sight unseen and Shelly expects the worst, but Ash and Linda have an optimistic outlook.

Blindly renting a place in a location you've never been to before = bad idea.


Despite the optimism on display, it is clear from the opening shot of the film that these kids are heading into a bad situation. As they drive on, a mysterious force is moving through the forest around them. The car's steering wheel jerks out of Scott's hands, nearly causing a collision with a logging truck. The old wooden bridge they have to cross to get to the cabin starts to fall apart beneath the car.

I'm always impressed by the shot from below of the car's tire busting through the bridge. I don't know exactly how they did that.

It is a great shot indeed, but what shocks me the most about this scene is how freaked out they aren't. Scott - or Ash - even laughs at the fact that the bridge is literally falling apart and that they almost got killed right then. Not to mention they aren't even considering the fact that they have to take the same path going back. Teenagers... in the '80s.


The bridge scene is followed by one of my favorite shots in the whole movie; the camera following the car down the long path to the cabin. It's a great introduction to an incredible location.

Standing in a forest clearing, nestled in the Tennessee hills, the cabin looks like a pleasant little place, but something is off about it from the moment the characters arrive. Something first signified by the porch swing that rhythmically bangs into the side of the cabin, and then suddenly stops.

Just the fact that the cabin is so old and remote is enough to make it scary for now.

The most sensitive to whatever's going on around here is Cheryl. While drawing a sketch of an antique clock in the cabin, she witnesses it stop ticking. She senses a presence and a deep, demonic voice on the soundtrack says, "Join us." She loses control of her own hand, which, automatic writing style, forcefully draws a picture of a book with a human face on her sketch pad. Then she sees something trying to push open the chain-locked door to the cellar.

If I were Cheryl, right then is when I would be begging to be taken back home. Not only is there clearly someone or something in cellar, after the sketchbook incident I would be fearing that I had some kind of neurological disease.

Same here.

Cheryl mentions something about the cellar to the others, but they don't take it seriously. Scott even makes fun of her about it as they settle in to have dinner. But dinner is interrupted when the cellar door is suddenly flung wide open.

After mocking Cheryl for suggesting the door might have been opened by an animal, and then agreeing that it might have been an animal, Scott takes a flashlight and goes downstairs to check things out. When Scott doesn't return and doesn't respond when called, Ash follows with a lantern.

They could've closed the door and chained it up instead of going down there to check. If there was an animal down there, able to open that door, they don't want to find it. Just keep it trapped until the morning.


There is no obvious danger in the cellar, but Ash finds that Scott has made some discoveries down there: a shotgun and shells, a strange ceremonial dagger, a tape recorder, and most troubling of all, a book bound in human flesh, the skin of a person's face on the cover. The book Cheryl drew against her will.

Hanging on the cellar wall is a torn poster for Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes. Hills was among the movies Raimi had studied, and he noticed there was a torn Jaws poster in the camper trailer in that film. So he tore a Hills poster here, Craven acknowledged the reference by showing a clip of The Evil Dead in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Raimi nodded back at him by hiding a Freddy Krueger glove in Evil Dead II.

I've always thought that was awesome. And the very cool coincidence is that Cody and I just wrote about The Hills Have Eyes last month.


Scott and Ash take their findings upstairs, the group gathers around, and Ash hits play on the tape recorder. The recorded voice of a professor/archaeologist sets up the horror that is to come. While excavating the ruins of Kandar, he discovered the Naturom Demonto, the Book of the Dead. Bound in human flesh and inked in blood, the book contains incantations that can summon demon forces and give them license to possess the living.

When I first watched this movie alone late one night when I was nine years old, this is the point when I started to become utterly terrified. I attended a religious school, I studied scripture every day, my teachers warned us kids about demonic possession, even saying that watching horror movies opens a person up to becoming possessed. Although I disagreed with the suggestion that watching horror was dangerous, I still believed that stuff like this could happen and was nothing to fool around with.

I went to a religious school as well, but I'm glad we were never told that horror movies were bad. It wouldn't have kept me from watching them anyway, but it's not the type of thing you should say to a kid. 

I do remember my grandma talking about how things like ghosts and demons were real, and telling us spooky stories about stuff like that. So taking that into consideration, I guess it's always in the back of my head when I see scenes with incantations and the sorts. It doesn't exactly get to me, but part of me wants them to realize what they're doing and just stop already.

The professor proceeds to read the incantations from the book aloud. Cheryl shuts off the tape recorder, but Scott turns it back on, and the words being spoken fully awaken the demonic forces that roam the forest.

Nine year old me feared that the words had summoned demons to my home as well. Now I know it's all just gibberish that Raimi made up, including a goofy reference to the cameo he and Tapert made as hitchhikers earlier in the film.

The playing of the tape ends with Cheryl getting very upset, which in turn makes Ash upset with Scott for taking things too far.


Cheryl, Scott, and Shelly call it a night and go to their rooms, but Ash and Linda stay up for a while so Ash can surprise his girlfriend with a gift necklace.

As Cheryl gets ready for bed, that evil force lurks outside her window. "Join us" is again heard on the soundtrack. Sensing the presence, Cheryl goes outside, into the dark and foggy night, to confront whoever or whatever's out there.

I love the suspense and the atmosphere of the movie up until this point. It keeps you wondering, it keeps you interested. The mystery is the best part of the movie to me. 

After this point, the movie starts to lose me a little. Why would Cheryl go out in the woods in the middle of the night alone? It makes no sense. She already knew something awful was going on, and she wasn't possessed at that time yet, so I really don't see why the character would do such thing.


The woods comes alive around her, vines wrapping around her, pulling her to the ground, tearing at her clothes. Before she can break free of them, a branch slams in between her legs.

Yikes.

Even though I love the effects we see in this scene, Cheryl being molested by branches just seems really out of place and silly. Not my favorite moment.

Snapping the vines, Cheryl runs back to the cabin, the force in pursuit, knocking down trees as it goes. She reaches the front door and it's locked. She struggles to get the key from its hiding spot, the force racing toward her...

Why are the keys outside, when everyone is inside? How did they lock the door?

This moment seems to have been lifted directly from the climactic chase in Halloween.

Ash opens the cabin door and lets Cheryl in just in time.

How did Ash open the door if the keys were outside? There was only one set of keys.


She demands to be taken away from there -

Finally.

- and Ash agrees. But when they drive out to the bridge, they find that it has been completely destroyed, its metal girders bent upward into a claw-like shape. They are trapped at the cabin.

Even if the bridge hadn't been destroyed, I sort of would have felt trapped already, afraid of trying to cross back over that thing.

Definitely.

Ash takes Cheryl back to the cabin and, now aware that something unnatural is going on, continues listening to the professor's tape. Using headphones this time, so Cheryl won't hear it and get upset again. On the tape, the professor fears that his wife has become possessed by a Kandarian demon, and that the only way to stop them is bodily dismemberment.

Not only were the incantations recorded, allowing for anyone who played the tape to awake the demonic forces, but the bodily dismemberment theory also didn't seem to work. The professor really wasn't any good at this.


Seconds later, it becomes clear that Cheryl is host to a Kandarian demon herself. Her appearance hideously transformed, her voice taking a demonic tone, Cheryl warns the others that they are going to die and then attacks them with inhuman strength, stabbing Linda in the ankle with a pencil. Scott stops the attack by knocking Cheryl into the cellar and padlocking the chain lock into place.

By now we know that the Evil Dead franchise is all about Ash, but putting that knowledge aside this would seem to be an interesting twist on expectations. Cheryl is the one most aware of what's going on, her character would usually turn out to be the final girl, but instead she's the first to become possessed.

Cheryl and Scott looked like they had better chances of being the survivors for a while. Only for a while.

With the growling, laughing, taunting Cheryl contained in the cellar, the others decide to wait until morning before trying to leave, at which point Scott still expects to be able to take the bridge.

The others don't seem to realize what's going on or even take it as seriously as they should. They keep saying "look at her eyes!", and her eyes were the least of their problems. Can't they see her face? Her hands? Hrm. And they could've chained that thing better.


The thing in the cellar turns out to be the least of their worries. The force smashes through a window to possess Shelly, who attacks the men with the ceremonial dagger. It is again Scott who ends the fight, tossing Shelly into the fireplace, cutting into Shelly's wrist to get her to drop the knife (the demon proceeds to chew off the now worthless hand), stabbing her with the knife, then hacking the gore-spewing creature that used to be his girlfriend into pieces with an axe he pulls away from the cowering Ash.

Earlier this month, I got to see The Evil Dead at a drive-in, and even though I have been watching the movie repeatedly for over twenty years and have even seen it in a theatre before, it wasn't until the sound was coming through my car's speakers that I heard a demonic voice crying out as Scott hacks up Shelly: "Don't you love her?" That's a great line, it makes the moment even more effective for me.

I'm pretty sure I've never heard that line. Sounds interesting.

Two confrontations down and Ash has been worthless both times. Scott is a jerk, but he appears to be the hero because he keeps handling the situation, and even saved Ash's life.

Ash is kind of pathetic at first. It gets more obvious every time I watch The Evil Dead.

Scott decides they have to bury Shelly's quivering pieces, to which Ash responds, "We can't bury Shelly, she's a friend of ours."

Following the burial, Scott abandons Ash and the injured Linda. He walks off into the forest, hoping to find a hiking trail that might lead him out of there.

One of the most memorable lines in the movie, "I don't care what happens to her. She's your girlfriend, you take care of her." 

And how could Linda sleep through all that was going on with Shelly? I'm jealous of people who can sleep through everything. I never could.

Scott finds a trail, but the evil in the woods doesn't allow him to walk out. He's back at the cabin within minutes, having sustained injuries so bad that he dies soon after.


A dark infection spreads from the wound on Linda's ankle and she, too, is possessed. Ash is left alone with two demons and the corpse of the more capable fighter. Linda isn't as immediately violent as Cheryl and Shelly were and Ash can't bring himself to hurt her, at first dragging the taunting demon outside and leaving her there. But she soon gets back into the cabin and attacks him.

This feeling is partly left over from when the movie terrified me as a child, but I find the possessed characters in this film to be some of the most disturbing monsters in horror. They're such ugly, gross, hyper, cackling lunatics. I'd rather fight the living dead, walking or running, than deal with these trash-talking Deadites.

Cody has a point. I have to say I feel the same way.


Ash can't put aside his feelings for Linda as he fights the demon that inhabits her. She gets impaled on the ceremonial dagger and her takes her out to the work shed to cut her up with a chainsaw, but can't bring himself to do it.

That chainsaw will play a very important role in the sequels.


Ash tries to just bury Linda instead, but she's not dead yet, and Ash finally starts to show that he has some fight in him.

One thing that happens twice within minutes always sticks to me. Ash literally gets a blood bath twice, once while fighting Linda and again when the blood filled pipes burst right on his face, and both shots right after it showed his face completely clean! Then his face is dirty again, and when he uses a rag to clean up, he barely has to scrub it, all the nastiness is pretty much gone. Movie magic!


Returning to the cabin, Ash finds that Cheryl has escaped from the cellar, and later Scott rises as a Deadite as well.

Scott took forever to "change". Is he possessed or is he a zombie? No, a zombie would've turned faster.


As Ash struggles to survive the night, the evil makes his surroundings even stranger (slamming shutters; blood pouring out of pipes, filling lightbulbs, flooding the cellar; a record player turning on by itself; a mirror turning into water), trying to drive him mad.

The stretch of the movie with Ash alone is, of course, what was left to shoot after most of the cast and crew had gone back to Michigan. Rather than let the lack of help hinder the production, the people remaining at the cabin - Raimi, Campbell, Tapert, transportation captain Dave Goodman, and sound/lighting guy Josh Becker, who replaced cinematographer Tim Philo at this point - just got more inventive. There are some crazy, very cool shots in this part of the film.

The necklace Ash gave to Linda plays a part throughout the movie. Seeing it is what stops him from cutting into her with the chainsaw. Later, looking at it helps him get through what's going on around him. When things are looking their most dire, it also comes in handy during his last effort to destroy the Deadites.

The sun rises, and the - finally - gore-soaked Ash stumbles outside... But his battle with the forces of evil isn't over.


Even making his first feature at age twenty, Raimi clearly had a lot of talent. The Evil Dead is simple and cheap, but it overcomes its limitations thanks to the way it was shot, with energetic camera moves and interesting angles. It's no surprise he has gotten to the level he's at in the industry, because it was obvious even then that he had something special to offer.

Like I said, the movie loses me a little after a certain point, but I do love all the suspense at the beginning. And even though it becomes something else, The Evil Dead is still inspired. Direction is great. Some very creative choices contribute towards making the movie what it is.

Bruce Campbell wasn't really "Bruce Campbell" yet in this movie, Ash was far from the man he would become, but he's a decent hero at this point, a nice, caring, but meek guy who has to find an inner strength to survive unimaginable circumstances. The cast around him does well, the standouts being Hal Delrich and Ellen Sandweiss, since they have the most to do.

It hurts me to say this, but every time I watch The Evil Dead 1981, I appreciate Bruce Campbell as Ash a little less. He really wasn't that good in it. He's charismatic, and that helps a lot, but the way he portrays Ash, just falls short at times for me. He doesn't really react accordingly when things are going on, like when a window gets busted or a girl screams, or even after the full-on demonic takeover...sometimes he just stands there for a while before doing anything. That makes it hard for me to see him as the hero. It does get better near the end though.

I really like the score by Joe LoDuca, it perfectly matches the imagery and enhances the unnerving moments.

The score is one of my favorite aspects of the movie, it works really well at all times. That and the special effects.


The special effects aren't Hollywood level, but I find that kind of works in their favor. They're unique, down and dirty, and they totally work for me. Some people mock the claymation at the end, but I think that stuff is awesome. I don't need it to look real, I just need it to look cool.

The claymation is so cool. One of my favorite parts of the movie for sure. I'd pick this and the other effects we see in the movie over CG any time. I also love the effects part of the scene with the branches attacking Cheryl in the woods, it looks great.

Like a couple of the movies that inspired it, Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead is one of my all-time favorites, and the stories behind the making of these movies are endlessly fascinating to me. The success that came out of such humble beginnings is very inspirational. The behind-the-scenes details have a lot to do with my appreciation for the films, but I was also a fan of them before I ever knew the "making of" stories.


My brother loves The Evil Dead movies, and he was the one who showed it to me when we were kids. There was something about the movie that just didn't do it for me, even back then. I think it's because I was so young, and I was used to seeing slashers that had different premises, I think it confused me a bit. "Is this a demonic possession movie? Is it a slasher?". Now I know it's both, and I do like the movie, but back then I just wasn't into it. One thing that stuck with me and creeped me out when I watched it back then was the bridge. Before, and especially after. It really freaked me out what it turned into, and the fact that they couldn't just leave.

My love for The Evil Dead began that night when I was nine years old. It scared me more than any movie had before and had since, and as a devoted horror fan I will always have a special place in my heart for a movie that could have such a powerful effect on me. I have watched it many, many times, and I look forward to watching it many more times.

Even though I don't love it as much as most horror fans seem to, I do like The Evil Dead a lot, and I can definitely see why it's such a cult classic. While it's not a movie I feel like watching very often, it does have its merits. I still wonder what it'd be like if it was a haunted house/ghost movie instead, but it works perfectly the way it is.



The Evil Dead was followed by two sequels - Evil Dead II in 1987 and Army of Darkness in 1992 - and then, although Sam Raimi would mention from time to time that he was thinking of making a fourth installment in the series, the franchise was dormant for quite a while. Eventually video games came along, then comic books, but it seemed like an Evil Dead 4 was a pipedream at best. Ash got close to returning to the screen when New Line Cinema entered negotiations in 2003 with Raimi, Robert Tapert, and Bruce Campbell in an attempt to add the character into a sequel to their hit crossover film Freddy vs. Jason. At first, the Evil Dead guys seemed enthusiastic about the idea. There's an interview clip with Campbell on the disc for the 2005 Evil Dead game Evil Dead: Regeneration where he gleefully discusses the idea that he might get the chance to go up against Freddy and Jason and "kick their little butts". But by the time that game hit shelves, negotiations had soured and the idea had officially been shot down, even though New Line had prematurely announced Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash as a go project. The problem was, the profit split couldn't be agreed upon, and in late 2004 Raimi and Tapert had great success with the Japanese horror film remake The Grudge, the first release from their production company Ghost House Pictures. That made them realize: they had the rights to Evil Dead and Ash, they had their own company, if they just made an Evil Dead project in-house at Ghost House instead of loaning Ash out to New Line, they would reap all the benefits instead of having to split them with the owners of other characters. Less than a month after The Grudge hit theatres, it was announced that Raimi, Tapert, and Campbell would be producing a remake of The Evil Dead.

At first, Raimi talked about wanting to get an established, popular director to helm the remake. He had made the original movie as an amateur, and thought it would be interesting if the remake were made by a seasoned pro. Quentin Tarantino was mentioned as a possibility. The job was offered to Oldboy director Chan-wook Park, but he turned it down. Eventually, the idea changed. They wouldn't go for a known director. Instead, the Evil Dead remake would be the breakthrough film for someone, just like the original had been for Raimi.


The producers found their man in Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez, who had gained attention with an impressive short film called Panic Attack!, about giant, rampaging robots.

Alvarez co-wrote the screenplay with his Panic Attack! co-writer Rodo Sayagues, a cast was assembled, and with a much larger budget at hand the filmmakers went into production in New Zealand, a country Raimi and his cohorts had become very familiar with while making the TV shows Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess there. (Tapert even married Xena herself, New Zealand native Lucy Lawless.)


Alvarez and Sayagues' take on the concept begins with a bloody young girl walking through a fog-enshrouded forest, being stalked by shadowy figures who turn out to be rednecks caked with filth. The girl is captured and bound to a support pole in the cellar of a cabin.

Surrounded by strange and mysterious people, including an old woman hanging dead cats from the ceiling, the girl is confronted by her father, who claims she murdered her mother. At first the girl begs for her life, but when her father starts pouring gasoline on her, she reveals herself to be a foul-mouthed, threatening demon.

Rednecks and F-bombs, did Rob Zombie write and direct this intro?

Help!

The father lights his young daughter on fire, then blows her head apart with a shotgun.

Every movie these days has to have some kind of opening death scene. I've spoken out against this trend before in Remake Comparison articles, and I feel that this opening sequence is one of the worst and most unnecessary we've come across. It kills every bit of suspense and mystery that could have been built up if the movie just started with our main characters, like the original did.

My thoughts exactly. Even though it's a remake, and the viewers know what's coming, a little bit of mystery and wondering won't hurt. Actually, most of the time, keeping things in suspense is the way to go. That's what I loved the most about the first half of The Evil Dead 1981.


The characters we'll be following for the rest of the film are then introduced as David Allen (Shiloh Fernandez) arrives at his family's rundown old vacation cabin with his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and his dog Grandpa in tow.

Friends are waiting for David at the cabin - registered nurse Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and high school teacher Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) - but they don't have plans for a relaxing getaway. This group's purpose at the cabin is to watch over David's drug-addicted sister Mia (Jane Levy) as she attempts to kick the habit cold turkey.

There's no leading up to the cabin, they don't drive there together, and some of them don't even know each other. I don't like that. Plus, the place is owned by Mia and David's family, so no mystery there either.

Alvarez and Sayagues had a purpose behind the names they chose for these five characters. When their first initials are assembled in the right order, they spell DEMON.


David finds Mia drawing in a sketchbook while sitting on the hood of a rusted-out 1973 Oldsmobile behind the cabin.

This is the same type of car (maybe the same car, period) as Ash owned in the previous Evil Dead movies. It's a nod to Sam Raimi, who has put that car in every movie he has ever made. Even when he directed a Western, Raimi had a wagon built over the car's chassis.

Very cool.

Through David and Mia's discussions, we learn that Mia has some resentment toward her brother because he wasn't around while she had to take care of their mom as she died from an illness. He hasn't been supportive enough before, but he's there for his sister now.

Eric will later say that it's "truly amazing" that David is there for them. "Truly amazing" is an Ash line from the original.


David also gives his sister a gift. A necklace similar to the one Ash gave his girlfriend in the original, except this one is made of wood. The wood of a buckthorn tree, which is said to make your will stronger.

I like it that it's his sister who gets the necklace, since he seemed much closer to Mia in the remake than Ash is to Cheryl in the original, even with the personal issues they have in this movie.

As the group's time at the cabin officially commences, Mia attempts to make a speech about her commitment to quitting drugs, but then gives up on the speech midway and just dumps the last of her stash down the cabin's well.

Not a very good place to pour it out. I hope they brought bottled water with them.

Juno/Jennifer's Body writer Diablo Cody did an uncredited polish on the script, which isn't all that apparent in the finished film. The speech moment is the one that seems most Cody-esque to me.

This scene seems unnecessary to me. The speech sounds lifeless and staged, even before we learn this isn't Mia's first attempt.

This is Mia's second time attempting to kick drugs. The first try only lasted eight hours, which is why it's being done at such a remote location this time. As night falls and a storm rolls in, Mia starts to experience withdrawals, which make her very agitated. What bothers her the most is a terrible smell in the cabin that no one else can smell.

The source of the bad smell is uncovered when Grandpa pulls aside the rug covering the cellar door. The area around the door is smeared with blood, and everyone smells the stench - dead bodies and burnt hair - when the cellar door is opened.


David and Eric go into the cellar to investigate. There they discover the hanging dead cats, the shotgun and shells, and a book wrapped in plastic and barbed wire.

This would be so much more creepy and effective if we didn't know what happened in that cellar, just like the characters don't. A room full of hanging dead cats with no explanation, that's scary.

I agree. Plus, what a bunch of irresponsible, inconsiderate people... having that kind of a "ritual" in someone else's basement and not even bothering to clean up after themselves. Did they think the owners of the cabin wouldn't notice?


Eric is oddly drawn to the wrapped-up book. He takes it upstairs, uses wire cutters to snip the wire, tears open the plastic... and finds that the book is bound in stitched human flesh. The Naturom Demonto. He leafs through its blood-spattered pages, and gets it even bloodier thanks to a papercut. He uncovers scratched-out words on the pages and reads them aloud.

In a way, it makes more sense than the professor recording the incantations in the original. I'm sure no one would do that, knowing what the result would be.

I hope we're supposed to get the impression that supernatural forces are driving Eric to do this, because who would do it otherwise?

I know I wouldn't. There's a reason why the book is wrapped up like that, and I wouldn't want to find out what it is. And I definitely wouldn't read the words out loud like that.

As Eric reads the words, an evil force starts racing through the surrounding woods. After the force reaches the cabin, Mia sees a strange figure standing out among the trees.

Feeling like she's losing her mind, Mia demands to be taken home, but when her brother and friends refuse, sticking to the detox plan, Mia just steals Eric's car instead and speeds off down the path away from the cabin while screaming obscenities.

Mia is a mess... demon or no demon.


That figure - a bloody, filthy girl - appears in the path in front, forcing Mia to swerve the car and crash. That figure and the force continue to torment her when she exits the vehicle, and the woods itself joins in, vines coming alive and wrapping around her. As the vines hold Mia in place, she gets a good look at the figure... and sees that it's a demonic version of herself.

An evil girl with long dark hair dangling in her face. Some Asian horror influence?

I guess it could be. The idea of Mia having a demonic version of herself attack her is not very appealing to me at all though.

The demon regurgitates a tangle of vines coated in black slime that crawls up Mia's legs like a snake and disappears into her vagina.

Yikes.

It goes from the possibility of Cheryl being molested in the original movie, to a flat out branch rape here? I like this scene even less this time around, and the effects aren't as interesting.

Mia is located in the woods and brought back to the cabin. She tells the others about the woman in the woods and the evil force, but it's brushed off as hallucinations caused by her withdrawals.

The detox angle is interesting and could have been played up much more. The way Alvarez put the movie together, we know without a doubt that there are supernatural forces at work, that opening sequence gave it all away. If he had presented it as a mystery and made the audience question Mia's perception as much as her friends do, the movie might have been better.

But like with her sense of smell, it turned out to be right, so there wouldn't be a whole lot of questioning. Though keeping it as a mystery was the way to go. It would've improved a few things in the movie for sure.

Later, nearly an hour into the movie, David will provide the information that he stayed away while their mom was dying because she had gone mad, she died in a mental hospital. He has feared that he and Mia would inherit her madness. Give that information earlier and make us question Mia's sanity! By the time David says that, it's completely pointless.

While taking the cat corpses out of the cellar, David finds a bloody, whimpering, dying Grandpa out at the work shed. Someone has beat him with a hammer.

Poor cats and poor Grandpa. The cute animals never stand a chance in horror movies.

He remembered too late that he had a dog somewhere out there in the pouring rain.

People in movies are really lousy pet owners.

Mia is the obvious suspect, but when David goes inside to confront her she is found having some kind of seizure in a scalding hot shower. Something Eric relates to a picture in the Naturom Demonto of a woman pouring boiling water on herself.


David tries to rush Mia to a hospital, but you have to drive over a stream going to and from the cabin, literally drive through the water, and that stream has become a raging river. He has to take her back to the cabin.

I'm seriously disappointed that there was no bridge in the remake. It was always a creepy element to me in the original, and here it's just a silly water flow keeping them from crossing the river. Lame.

As her brother and friends argue over what should be done, and what they should have done, Mia comes walking into the main room, twitching and carrying the shotgun. She fires at David, just grazing his arm, right before the force knocks the front door open. Wind blows through the room, lightning flashes, Mia screams, and audio from the original movie fills the soundtrack: the threats spoken by the possessed Cheryl. Things calm down, Mia tells the others they're all going to die, then she collapses.

The audio from the original movie is a nice touch, especially since it's better than anything Mia has to say.

Olivia goes to pull the shotgun away from Mia and Mia pounces on her, releasing a huge amount of blood red vomit into her face. Olivia tosses Mia aside, into the open cellar, and Eric slams the door shut as Natalie wonders why Mia's eyes looked strange.

This makes more sense in the remake as well, because it was pretty much just Mia's eyes that looked different. While in the original movie, Cheryl's whole face had changed.

Olivia then goes into the bathroom to wash off her face and get some tranquilizer to give Mia... but the force is back there with her. It causes Olivia to stop dead in her tracks, and as a demonic spirit takes over her body she pees down her legs.

Her pee was almost orange! Girl needs to drink more water! And why is she dressed like a bum? That sweater has a bunch of holes in it. That's not a fashion statement, that's just lack of it entirely.


Eric goes to check on Olivia and finds her bringing to life another image from the book, this one of a woman cutting her own face off. Olivia is using a shard of the broken bathroom mirror to do so, and she also uses that piece glass to attack Eric. The screeching demon also attacks him with the tranquilizer syringe, stabbing him repeatedly in the face with it, breaking the needle off in his face just below his eye.

To protect himself, Eric has to beat Olivia to death with the lid of the toilet tank... And now he realizes that he is to blame for what's going on.


While David doctors Eric, Natalie is lured into the cellar by Mia, who seems to have returned to normal and is crying for help. It's a trick, and Mia attacks Natalie, who tries to protect herself with a box cutter. Mia bites her hand to get the box cutter away from her, proceeds to split her own tongue with the cutter, then gives the girl a bloody kiss.

After David pulls Natalie out of the cellar, the cellar door finally gets chained shut.

Around this time, I'm starting to realize that Alvarez's Deadites are extremely lame. These aren't the cackling, taunting lunatics of Raimi's film. They're pretty much just zombies with weapons. The only one who speaks is Mia, and she's just spouting paraphrased quotes from The Exorcist. 

It's more like the demon who possessed Mia was the leader, and the others were just there. 

Ash stopped the original Deadites by burning the Book of the Dead. Eric tries to do the same, but the book won't burn.

Which is why they kept it all wrapped up. They couldn't destroy it, so they tried to make sure no one else would read it, but Eric had to check it out. They should've buried it.

Looking through the book's pages, Eric finds that the demons have an objective this time. They're working for a being called the Taker of Souls, and once they have collected five souls for him, the sky will bleed and a creature called The Abomination will rise from Hell.


The bite on Natalie's hand is badly infected. Like Linda's ankle wound in the original, the infection turns into a possession as the evil takes over Natalie's hand, just like it does Ash's hand in Evil Dead II. He had to cut his own hand off with a chainsaw, and Natalie does the same to her hand with an electric carving knife.

Cutting off the infection doesn't save Natalie. The possessed, one-armed girl silently, brutally attacks David and Eric with a crowbar and a nail gun.

A silent, slow moving Deadite... Come on, Alvarez.


Now that everyone else is dead or possessed and Eric is barely clinging to life, David decides he has to do whatever it takes to make this horrible situation end. Although he has presented alternate theories, including a virus caught from the dead cats, he finally buys into Eric's explanation of what's going on. Eric believes that Mia has to die to thwart The Abomination.

David pours gasoline throughout the cabin and is about to set it on fire when he hears Mia in the cellar, singing a song their mother used to sing to them. He can't bring himself to burn her, so he comes up with another idea.

With his dying breath, Eric helps David tranquilize Mia so he can carry out his plan, which was inspired by something he learned from Olivia: Mia has technically died before. She overdosed and had to be revived. A defibrillator was used on her.

Why did David put a dress on Mia? That seems weird to me.


Mia awakens as David buries her alive outside the cabin. Although she tries to play mind games with him, he goes through with burying her. He waits long enough for her to die in the ground, then digs her up and brings her back to life using a makeshift defibrillator he has created out of a car battery and a couple syringes.


The way Alvarez shoots the making of the defibrillator is reminiscent of moments from Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness where Ash builds himself things to replace his missing hand with. In ED2, he famously sticks a chainsaw on his stump, and in AoD he makes a metal prosthetic.

Nods like that are always cool and welcome.


David succeeds at freeing Mia from the evil inhabiting her body, but not at stopping the evil completely. As the siblings prepare to leave the cabin, David is mortally wounded by the Deadite Eric. He fires the shotgun, igniting the gasoline, and the place goes up in flames...

And blood begins to pour from the sky. The Abomination is coming.

I'm not sure how this works. The Taker of Souls needed five to let loose the Abomination. Four people have died. Does Grandpa count? I always hated it when people who believe in souls told me animals didn't have them. Mia died, but she's alive again, so she presumably still has her soul...

I don't know. They either count Grandpa, which doesn't make much sense, since they could've killed creatures in the woods before, or Mia counted as a death before she was brought back to life.

The design of The Abomination is disappointing, too. It's just Mia's doppelganger. When a powerful demon rises from Hell, I want it to look more impressive than this.

Like I said before, this idea does not work for me at all.

The Abomination crawls from the ground and attacks Mia, who puts a chainsaw to use in this final battle... and loses a hand along the way.

Two characters losing a hand comes off as a bit silly. 

And I don't see why she had to do that to her hand. The ground is soaked, so you can dig your hand out of there, you know? And the pain of what she did alone, would've been enough to at least make her pass out.


I don't dislike the remake of The Evil Dead, but I have a lot of issues with it, mainly because it feels kind of sloppy to me, like it's a movie in conflict with itself. It presents these ideas that would have been intriguing to explore - drug withdrawal, heredity insanity - but also seems to have no interest in exploring them, as it can't wait to get to the Deadites.

It's like the remake is almost more about the characters personal demons than the actual demons. I like how they gave some of the characters more depth, more of a background, but it isn't dealt with as well as it could've been, and it ends up feeling a little all over the place.

The Deadites are also an issue for me, as I find them to be very pathetic in comparison to Raimi's Deadites. It really feels like Alvarez had no ideas at all for these things - when you're having your lead monster lift lines from The Exorcist, you're obviously not inspired.

Yes, the Deadites are pretty lame. There's so much he could've done with them...even if he went ahead and somewhat copied how the original ones acted, it would've improved the movie overall.

What the movie wants to be most of all is an assault on the viewer. It's not necessarily trying to scare you, however. It wants to shock and disgust you, it does all it can to be as gross as possible.

Even though the original has some extremely nasty parts, it never feels as aggressive as the remake. The gross parts here are truly disgusting. They succeeded at that, undeniably.

It's pretty incredible how much they managed to get away with in this movie when it comes to the injuries sustained by the characters. This movie would have been unreleasable in the '80s. It's like a study in desensitization. It throws so much cringeworthy imagery in your face, by the end you're almost over it. You see something that's meant to hurt the viewer almost as much as the character enduring it and you're like, "Yeah, okay, I know what you're doing, movie."

That really got to me the first time I watched Evil Dead '13, but not so much this time. Being able to get past that made me appreciate the remake a little more. Something else I like is Roque BaƱos' score...I could do without the loud siren blasting parts, but other than that, I find it pretty effective.


The characters are really put through Hell, and Alvarez assembled a solid cast to torment. Everyone does pretty well in their roles, although there are some clunky line readings here and there. Natalie's "What happened to her eyes?" sure doesn't live up to the way it's said in the original. 

I think acting is one of the stronger aspects of Evil Dead 2013. They all do a pretty decent job and I buy them as young adults. The weaker one is Elizabeth Blackmore, but I think it has more to do with the character Natalie than her acting abilities. Natalie is the "stranger" to pretty much all of them, so the interactions aren't many. She doesn't have that much to do.

I really like the slightly odd way in which Jane Levy delivers her whispered lines to David about there being something in the woods after the vine incident, and I respect Lou Taylor Pucci's hair game.

Lou Taylor Pucci looks like he could've been a serial killer in the '70s. Not bad.

As far as movies about people being torn apart by monsters in an isolated location go, Alvarez made a decent one, and Evil Dead 2013 is an alright way to spend 91 minutes. It pales in comparison to what came before and even if you set aside thoughts of Raimi's Evil Dead, it still suffers from storytelling problems, but it's not terrible.

I like how some things make more sense in the remake and a few other aspects that I have already mentioned, but as a whole, I'd pick the original movie as the best one. That's not to say I don't like the remake. I think it turned out much better than most people expected, but still...some of its flaws take away from it a little. That being said, I enjoyed it more watching it for the second time, so who knows? Maybe it'll become a yearly watch for me.

It took eight years of development, but Ghost House got their Evil Dead remake into theatres, and it was a success.

There's a quick tag at the end of the credits, a shot of Bruce Campbell/Ash saying "Groovy" and then looking into the camera. Although this is a remake, Raimi and Alvarez teased that both of their Evil Dead movies could exist in the same universe. There was even talk that Alvarez would make his own Evil Dead 2, Raimi would make an Ash sequel, and then there would be a movie where Ash and Mia team up. Development on Alvarez's sequel has since stalled and Campbell is set to fight the Deadites again, for the first time in more than twenty years, in at least two seasons of the Starz television series Ash vs. Evil Dead, so don't expect those ideas to come to fruition any time soon.

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