I consider myself more of a casual fan of Sam Raimi’s gruesome-and-then-some classic from the ’80s, which is to say I enjoy it but I don’t exactly have Bruce Campbell’s face tattooed on the back of my calf, either. Even so, I had a tough time separating my feelings about the 1983 movie while watching the reboot, even if the movie’s poster warned me right up front that it would be “a new vision from the producers of the original classic.”
Well, that “new vision” is exactly what turned me off about the film. To me, the idea of remaking “The Evil Dead” seems pointless because a. “Evil Dead II” was technically already a remake of Raimi’s low-budget gorefest, and b. part of the fun of “The Evil Dead” was seeing how far the movie could go with a budget that appeared to be about a buck and a half.
This new version, directed by Fede Alvarez, who was 5 when the original came out, certainly retains one aspect of Raimi’s classic: it is easily the most nauseatingly gory flick to come out in the past decade. Someone saws their own arm off with an electric knife. Someone else slices their tongue in two while licking the business end of a box cutter. And the movie does similar wonders in other scenes involving a nail gun, a chainsaw and a hypodermic needle. Needless to say, that elevator full of blood from “The Shining” has nothing on “Evil Dead.”
The movie also manages to eke out a couple of decent one-liners in between the rampant dismemberment. Lou Taylor Pucci, playing the guy who idiotically reads a verse from the proverbial Book of the Dead and inadvertently sets off the gory events of the film, is covered in enough blood to rival Carrie at the prom when he spouts off this potential howler: “Dying wouldn’t be so bad right now. I just don’t want to become the devil’s bitch.”
So why didn’t I enjoy Alvarez’s take on “Evil Dead” more? I think my affections for Raimi’s classic are just too great. It’s a movie that may be impossible to be improved upon. Frankly, the “new vision” takes far too many liberties to even qualify itself in the same league as “The Evil Dead” (there’s a bogus prologue, for example, and the characters are needlessly developed). Still, if you have no previous knowledge that there even was an original “Evil Dead,” it’ll certainly satisfy your appetite for carnage. After all, when Jane Levy tells the other four cast members, “You are all going to die tonight,” she ain’t talking about peacefully in their sleep.
★½ out of ★★★★
Rated R for nonstop gory carnage, a brutal rape sequence and lots of raw language. 91 minutes, 2013.
Director: Fede Alvarez. Starring: Shiloh Fernandez, Jane Levy.
Read all of Jesse Hoheisel’s reviews at AFistfulofPopcorn.com.
Also, be sure to check out Scott Davis’s EVIL DEAD-themed Film Journal by clicking here!