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Starting up another round of the Clone Wars is this year's latest horror remake as Fede Alvarez's Ash-free update of Sam Raimi's horror masterpiece takes on the original and it's sequel, Dead By Dawn. Let the voting begin!
While most people credit the original Evil Dead's success to Raimi's innovative direction and use of low budget effects, it wouldn't be the same without Ash. Bruce Campbell knocks it out of the park, especially in his tweaked out final scenes. Eyes darting around the cabin, almost hysterical in snapping out of his laughter to a deadpan stare at the celling. Most people personify Ash as the chainsaw wielding one liner machine but his performance in the first film is easily the best performance out of all three pictures.
And while there's no Ash in Alvarez's remake, Jane Levy's performance as a junkie at the center of her own self induced intervention is incredible. It's definitely much better than anything in Evil Dead 2, which in my opinion, has no quality performances to speak of. The slapstick tone of horror and comedy is just too over the top to take these characters serious the second time around.
And while the ladies of Evil Dead '81 aren't anything to write home about at first glance, once they become possessed they're much creepier than any CGI pale face Silent Hill rejects that the remake throws at us.
While it's a clever take on the Evil Dead story and isn't as derivative as most remakes, I just couldn't get behind the new direction the update took with the series. The storyline of the original film broadens the scope so that it can encompass much more than just addiction, which is what makes it such a timeless piece of horror history. The new film isn't poorly written, it just doesn't have the universal appeal of the original.
And in all honesty, the sequel has much more in common with the first film, at least story-wise. But I think that's exactly why it's the least successful of the three story lines. Evil Dead 2 feels like Sam Raimi is remaking his own film with a slightly bigger budget and much less conservative approach.
I don't know what it is specifically but I hate the look of Dead by Dawn. It looks like a BBC TV movie or something. I don't know but I'm automatically disconnected from the film the minute the pale cloudy look kicks off. I don't know if you can pin that on directing, photography, production, or what - but in the end the director is the guy signing off on it and for as great as Raimi's other pictures look, Evil Dead 2 is his ugliest looking film of his career.
Alvarez does enough to distinguish himself from the original while throwing homage after homage at the attentive fan base of the source material but ultimately, it's all style. Raimi's creepy visuals still stand the test of time and are much more effective than the remake's. From the girl in the cellar to the darkness moving throughout the woods, 20+ years of technology still can't match what Raimi was able to put to film back in 1981.
Maybe the biggest thing throwing me from modern day horror films is the lack of creativity with the villains. They all look like they've been drawn out of the same mediocre and unimaginative well. The 80's spawned such horror icons as Pinhead, Fred Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Chucky and more but todays horror films seem to feature the same white faced, possessed CGI contortionists. The Evil Dead remake is no different and other than the shock value of the incredibly graphic violence, they're some of the most un-threatening horror villains in quite some time. The original Evil Dead's deadites are simple, yet very effective.
And much like that last point, the original film also outweighs both follow ups in terms of authentic scares. The remake crutches too much on shock value to have any impact and the sequel just stretches the storyline a little too campy to actually invest in the characters the way you did with the first film.
Overall, The Evil Dead is easily the best of these flicks. I know the sequel gets a lot of love from most genre fans but if I'm going for a straight campy sequel, I'll take Army of Darkness 8 days a week over Dead by Dawn. And while the remake is no where near the trash Platinum Dunes has shat out this past decade, it can't match the heart and soul that resonates with Raimi's passion project that launched him from a cabin in the Michigan woods to Hollywood royalty.
The Evil Dead 1981
I love horror movies. Growing up they were my guiltiest of cinematic pleasures and I still frequently revisit the grizzly classics that keep my nightlight in use for years. And while it's never been a genre the critics flock to, horror fans themselves can't deny the dip in quality from horror films this past decade.
And as I sat in the theater tonight waiting for yet another one of my childhood favorites to be rehashed for a younger audience that's likely oblivious to the source material, I found myself forcing enjoyment out of something that just couldn't compare to the original. Evil Dead wasn't a bad movie (it's certainly one of the best horror remakes I can recall) but it just couldn't resonate with me the way the original had so long ago. This movie threw everything at you a horror film junkie could ask for and still, it just wasn't the same.
As the lights came up and the credits began to roll I found myself surrounded with a crowd of apathetic viewers that were immediately disengaged from the experience and lighting their faces with the electric glow of their smart phones. And then I started to wonder, have the movies changed or have we? With the instant availability of endless real life horrific images on the internet and the desensitizing effect that's seemed to have on our generation, can anything as planned as a horror film effect us? Have we become immune?
This past weekend as my family sat down to have Easter dinner, with our television set on in the background OF COURSE, one of the most horrific incidents I've ever seen take place during a basketball game left this poor kid with a bone jolting out of his ankle as he landed awkwardly after attempting a blocked shot. And as my somewhat sheltered significant other turned away in disgust, my 13 year old nephew reached for the remote to watch the incident over and over again on TiVo. About two weeks ago he asked me for a good horror flick and I sent him home with Hellraiser and The Thing. He wasn't impressed.
Undoubtedly though, good horror films are harder to come by these days. As I left the theater I passed a group of kids who had to be no older than 16 talking about how they've NEVER seen a good horror film. And as I thought about it, I struggled to list more than 5 I'd seen at the theaters in that time span either. Yet here I was, as well as these kids, shelling out cash for something we were probably both not expecting much from. I hate the remake fad as much as the next guy but when they're the only horror films making it to the theater, I'm going to go watch. In my opinion, horror is the best kind of movie to see in the theater.
But yet as I swear by films like the original Evil Dead and Nightmare on Elm Street, most younger audiences brush them off entirely. And re watching these films it's obvious that they're less than perfect. So what is it then, nostalgia? Or is it the emotionally detached state of tranquility that modern society has us in that keeps us coming to the theater to feel something? If an impending nuclear war with North Korea can't shake America out of it's apathy, why would watching prosthetic zombies drenched in buckets of fake blood have an effect? When you leave the theater, you're still broke. The country's still in debt. You still hate your job. You're likely unfulfilled, trapped in the lower middle class of an economic system that rewards social status above all.
I have no idea where I'm going with any of this, I just felt a need to clear out what was in my head as I drove home from watching Evil Dead tonight. Like I said earlier, the movie's not bad at all, it's got everything you'd want in a horror flick so by all means get out there and support it. Don't take this as a direct response to that specific film. Just a rant about horror movies from a guy who feels like the genre is eroding out from under him. Or even scarier, the erosion of humanity's emotional response to anything not directly affecting their own fat white asses. And because this isn't a blog of Kate Upton giffs or stroke anyone's ego by including a bunch of users in an extensive list, no one will read it and I'll eventually become embarrassed by my own show of emotion and delete it after the weekend. Time to fall asleep to THE Evil Dead and dream of better days, like the bitter old man I'm starting to sound like.
After a month of voting the final winner of this year's MFC Movie March Madness tournament has been declared! In an incredibly close 6-5 showdown, Golden Schmoe Movie of the Year, Django Unchained thwarted The Avengers in the final matchup of this year's tournament. Taking out Oscar favorites Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty and Argo as well as Looper along the way; Quentin Tarantino's latest is the last film standing.
I would like to thank everyone who voted in the tournament and welcome any feedback you might have. I'd definitely like to do something like this every March but with Django winning both this and the Golden Schmoes, I feel like it may be a bit redundant to do a best of the year tournament so close to the schmoes voting? Let me know what you think, but I'm thinking of hosting one later this year with a different theme...