I am an original recipe first-generation fan of “Evil Dead.” I liked the first film before there was a sequel, and by the time “Army Of Darkness” opened, I was already starting to struggle with the difference between the thing that first won me over and the thing that was now being made. In the end, each of the movies is so different that I view them almost like different riffs on the same theme and not direct sequels to one another.
The one thing that is consistent about all of the Raimi “Evil Dead” films is the presence of Bruce Campbell as Ash, and this is one of those cases where I would argue that the actor and the part are completely inseparable. The reason I think of Bruce Campbell as iconic is because of his work as Ash, and the reason Ash is so fascinating is because of what Bruce Campbell did while playing him. The way Raimi and Campbell tweaked the tone of the movies from “Evil Dead” to “Evil Dead 2” to “Army Of Darkness” is fascinating, and basically, the more mainstream the series became, the more they tipped the balance from horror to humor.
If you look at “Army Of Darkness” by itself, it’s hard to believe that it’s even technically a horror film. The comedy is so pronounced, so much a part of every beat in the film, that nothing in the film comes across as genuinely frightening. By contrast, if you only saw the first film, you’d be hard pressed to imagine how anyone would find an “Evil Dead” film even remotely funny. The particular balance between the two extremes that is struck by “Evil Dead 2” is one of the reasons that film seems like such a miracle. Earlier today, I happened to throw in “Drag Me To Hell” for the first time in a while, and I was impressed once again by the way Raimi can completely freak you out and push a button that makes you squirm before letting you off the hook with an overt laugh. I miss that Sam Raimi, but I know that projects where that particular tone comes together are few and far-between.
Until now, I think people may have had the wrong idea about what to expect from an “Evil Dead” remake. For one thing, I suspect that many fans just assumed there would be someone new playing the role of Ash, and looking at today’s new red-band trailer for the film, I am immediately glad to see that they’re not doing that. I don’t want to see someone do an impression of Campbell, and I don’t think Ash is the thing that is important about the film. Instead, we’re getting a new story about people who stumble across the book that should not be read, a new group of people who find themselves trapped in those woods with something hungry, something horrible.
And based on that trailer, Fede Alvarez decided that the only way to pay suitable tribute to the original “Evil Dead” was to pull out all the stops, pull no punches, and make the goriest, craziest, meanest and nastiest version of “Evil Dead” that he could. Also based on that trailer, I’d be willing to bet that is exactly the right call to have made.
I think this trailer looks demented. At a time when so many theatrical horror films have been totally and completely defanged, “Evil Dead” looks like it’s going to push the boundaries of the R-rating, and I want that. I want the film to make audiences actively uncomfortable. I want people to freak out. I want to see kids who only know “Army of Darkness” lose their damn fool minds. I would love for this to be a fitting chapter in the ongoing series, and a reminder of just how raw and rough horror can be when treated seriously.
Now that you’ve had a look, tell me… what do you think of this approach? Is it what you expected?
I look forward to finding out on April 12, 2013.