Even though I’m coming down with something horrendous I still bring you all the goods and after viewing that trailer for the actually pretty good looking remake, I thought I’d give the original another spin.
The first time I’d seen The Evil Dead it was loaned to me by a kid in school, but the teacher caught us and though he eventually gave it back he uttered the curious line “This could’ve been a snuff film or something.” Now, at the time I agreed with him and didn’t think anything of it. Yes Sir I’m very sorry, won’t happen again. But it was only later on that I realised the utter weirdness behind that sentence. Did my Welsh teacher really think I was in the market for videos of real life murder? Did he think that this is what kids did in the mid-90’s?
Alas it was not a snuff film but a watered-down version of tonight’s film, long before it passed uncensored through the BBFC. I had at that point already seen Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, so I wasn’t quite prepared for the low budget delights of the original entry and came away thinking, above all, that it wasn’t all that funny.
Of course, that isn’t the point. The point was to be a nasty little horror film that was largely devoid of laughs but had endless creative energy. And on those points it succeeded.
A group of friends travel to a cabin in the woods and resurrect an old evil. From there on out they’re generally fucked with. Someone is dismembered, someone gets a pencil in the ankle and one unfortunate soul gets raped by a tree. See; nasty stuff. But it was of course designed that way. Future Spider-Man director Sam Raimi and friends knew that horror was selling and, looking for a way into the movie business, just set about making their own. So they came up with these outlandish scenes to set it apart. Cinema is full of cynical attempts to cater to a market, but rarely are they this much fun. Even with it’s low budget the film just works. Raimi does a lot with what he has, his love of crazy camera angles and generally kinetic camerawork are in full effect here, that was so unique compared to what else was out at the time. A lot of the films we’ve looked at here, particularly the slashers, are generally so simple in what they do with the camera. It’s very simple point-and-shoot a lot of the time, so to see the camera as it races through the woods and breaks down doors is just a huge refreshment, even to this paracetamol addled brain.
The whole saga is an odd thing. The second is a quasi-remake of the first but is much more of a slapstick comedy. The third is just outright comedy. It’s a shame that people come away from it with my initial reaction and think “Eh, it’s not that funny” when it’s meant to be anything but (This is a reaction I’ve read fairly recently). I’m not sure that tree fornication is really meant to be amusing. Juvenile yes, amusing? No.
That’s it. It’s a short one and I’m kind of out of words to say about the film since my head is banging and my eyes hurt me. Up next, Contagion!