Now is the time on “Sprockets” when we eat some crow.
All my reservations about a new “Evil Dead” movie of any kind are on the record from yesterday. My basic feelings are the same. If your’e just dealing with the bare bones (a bunch of college kids, a cabin in the woods, a cursed book, and terrible things happening), it’s not the strongest spine to hang a remake on. We’re going to see Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard play with the conventions in “The Cabin In The Woods,” a movie that sort of makes the tropes of “Evil Dead” obsolete by design.
In order to truly make a new “Evil Dead” work, you have to do a few things. You have to make it genuinely scary, you have to do something we haven’t seen from the genre, and you need to craft characters who matter and who aren’t just generic spam in a cabin.
Hiring Diablo Cody is a step in the right direction. In my opinion? A big step.
I’ve never met Cody, but it’s apparent from interviews and from conversations with mutual friends that she is every inch the genre fan as anyone working in horror right now, and she takes her horror seriously. I’m still stunned that horror fans largely dismissed “Jennifer’s Body,” and while I don’t want to blame the sight-unseen rejection of the film on fandom’s undeniable issues with women, it amazes me how many awful, mediocre movies they embrace that perpetuate the male gaze and how hard it is for any horror film with a genuine female perspective to get traction. If women aren’t victims, it seems like many horror fans aren’t interested at all.
I don’t expect gender issues to drive the new “Evil Dead.” Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell are all attached to produce this new version, which has now been confirmed by press release to be gearing up for a shoot. The timing of this announcement has to be tied to the way the news has broken over the last few days, and the press release confirms that the film is indeed a remake. Fede Alvarez, who is going to direct the film, wrote the first few drafts with Rodo Sayagues, and Cody has been hired to polish their draft. She even commented on it when the news broke today via her Twitter account:
“Re: EVIL DEAD. Fede Alvarez wrote a brilliant script. My job is easy. Have no fear. (Wait, do have fear.)”
All I hope is that this remake avoids using Ash entirely. Ash really is Bruce Campbell. There’s nothing else to the character, really. The reason he is iconic is because of how he’s played, not because of what was written. Campbell can sell every part of the Ash character, whether it’s the mental breakdown or the overt absurdity or the razor-sharp sarcasm, because it’s all playing to his strengths as a performer. This new “Evil Dead” can easily be set in the same woods, at the same cabin, and deal with the same threat, and never ever have to introduce a new version of Ash. It will actually work better for the filmmakers if they avoid the character because that way, they dodge the inevitable comparison.
Here’s the full text of today’s press release:
Sam Raimi and original producing partners Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell (who also starred in the original franchise) are gearing up to remake their cult sensation THE EVIL DEAD through their long standing Ghost House Pictures partnership. Raimi and Tapert were such instant fans of Fede Alvarez”s short film “Panic Attack” that they set up a blind deal with the filmmaker and through that process have attached Fede Alvarez to write and direct the film. Alvarez wrote the script with Rodo Sayagues. Academy Award® winning screenwriter Diablo Cody is currently doing revisions on the draft. Ghost House is committed to renewing the franchise and has the film on the fast track.
Raimi, Tapert and Campbell will serve as producers. Ghost House Pictures partners Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane will executive produce. Nicole Brown and J.R. Young will oversee the project for Ghost House. Lionsgate will handle international sales on the film.
The three producing partners commented, “We are committed to making this movie and are inspired by the enduring popularity and enthusiasm for the ‘Evil Dead” series. We can ‘ t wait to scare a new generation of moviegoers using filmmaking techniques that were not available to us thirty years ago as well as Fede bringing a fresh eye to the film”s original elements.”
Raimi wrote, directed and, along with Tapert and Campbell, produced the original horror classic THE EVIL DEAD that tells the story of five twenty-something friends who become holed up in a remote cabin where they discover a Book Of The Dead. An archaeologist ‘ s tape recording reveals that the ancient text was discovered among the Khandarian ruins of a Sumerian civilization. Playing the taped incantations, the youths unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival. THE EVIL DEAD spawned a franchise with the equally successful installments EVIL DEAD II and ARMY OF DARKNESS.
I am still very nervous about a studio version of this film, but I’ll admit that hiring Cody is the sort of outside-the-box thinking that could make this into something more than just another toothless rehash.