Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Before The Remake: The Original EVIL DEAD

I am mere hours away from attending the Irish premiere of the Evil Dead remake, and in anticipation, I decided to rewatch Sam Raimi's original.

Courtesy of Living Dead Girl (complete with typos).

It was just over 11 years ago that I saw Raimi's balls-to-the-wall gore-fest Evil Dead, and even now, I still remember it well.  I've seen an awful lot of horror since then, but at the time, I was still well versed, having fallen head first into the zombie genre, but it was still a few years off its revival with Shaun of the Dead and the Dawn of the Dead remake. I was looking for another zombie movie to feed my addiction. I was not ready for what I was about to unleash.

It was an unusual experience, where I received the Anchor Bay DVD as a birthday present and sat back at 5pm with the curtains drawn, ready to watch it. Even then, very little really spooked or scared me, but once the DVD kicked off, with me in the seat, trying to hide the daylight, I was transported into a horrifying and terrible world. 

Truly one of those experiences, where something far surpasses your expectations, Evil Dead had me on edge, struggling to watch, but unable to look away, praying the chaos was about to end and the film was just about to wrap up. When the end credits rolled, I sat, dumbfounded. The film has the purposely over-the-top advertisements of being the ultimate experience in gruelling terror, but you know what? I think it almost lives up to those bold claims. From the slow journey into isolation, to the exploration of the basement, to the insanity and demons and bizarre stopmotion ending, the film just will not let you go. Immediately, I set out to see the sequels (Evil Dead 2 is a genuine masterpiece itself), and eat-breath-sleep Raimi and anything Evil Dead (including it's pseudo sequel Drag Me To Hell, and all the unofficial Italian tie-ins). I'm not the only one to do this, and by far I am not the most extreme.

Everyone has their experience of the film, and I know there are some haters out there, but for me, Evil Dead exists right up along with The Shining, The Exorcist, Halloween and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as examples of archetypal horror. Bad acting and cheap effects don't diminish the film, they enhance it. Many have tried to emulate the film since, and many have failed. Whatever was in the water, Raimi, Campbell et all just did it right.

It is a hell of a film, and even though it is certainly a film of its time, it is still as powerful today as it was then. I have been trying to steer clear of reviews, but I am aware of the general consensus of the Evil Dead remake. In a few hours, please join me for my one word review of ED2013, and in a few days, I will fully bash out my thoughts on the update to the cult classic. Actually, the original cannot be called a cult classic. FAR too many people know and love it. Regardless of if the remake is good or not, it has done one fantastic thing; raised the profile of the original.

Evil Dead is a classic. Viva Evil Dead.