Evil Dead (d. Fede Alvarez USA 2013)

Evil Dead (d. Fede Alvarez USA 2013)

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Evil Dead (d. Sam Raimi USA 1981) is a low budget film, that was released to critical acclaim and launched a cult following as well as a successful franchise. The protagonist of Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), with his chainsaw and ‘boomstick’, has become an icon of horror. This was a film that was outrageous and original. Evil Dead’s (1981) low budget gave the film a style that largely contributed to the films success. So what can be achieved by remaking it? Enter, Evil Dead (2013). In recent years we have seen so many beloved Horror films, remade. Among them are fellow Video Nasties: Last House on the Left (d. Dennis Iliadis USA 2009) and I Spit on Your Grave (d. Steven R. Monroe 2010). There has also been A Nightmare on Elm Street (d. Samuel Bayer USA 2010), Friday the 13th (d. Marcus Nispel USA 2009), Pirahna (d. Alexandre Aja USA 2010), Maniac (d. Franck Khalfoun France/USA 2012) and Silent Night (d. Steven C. Miller Canada/USA 2012). There is even more to come with Carrie (d. Kimberly Peirce 2013) later this year, as well as Child’s Play (d. Unknown 2014) Videodrome (in development), The Birds (in development) and Suspiria (d. David Gorden Green USA/Italy ????). With all these remakes coming out, it begs the question ‘why?’ Unfortunately for Evil Dead (2013), this idea of why remake the original is impossible to shake off. Evil Dead (2013) begs comparison to the original. I shall try not to unleash spoilers but I shall examine this film compared to this question of: why remake the original?

 

Even if you haven’t seen Evil Dead (1981) there is something to be expected from Horror films of our day. There will be blood. Yes, there will be blood. In fact there will be moments that push you to cringe and jump. This film, unfortunately is strikingly unoriginal. Aside from many moments that recall the original Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead (2013) nods to famous moments in Zombie (d. Lucio Fulci Italy 1979) and The Exorcist (d. William Friedkin USA 1973), as well as the recent influences of films like Ringu (d. Hideo Nakata Japan 1998) and Ju-On: The Grudge (d. Takashi Shimizu Japan 2002). The type of gore to be expected starts quite early in the film and despite the unoriginality, does achieve some laughs in it’s implausibility. However, it is ambiguous whether this is an intentional implausibility or not. So a spectator is left wondering whether they’re laughing at the film or with it. With certain characters, interestingly the good guys this time, they take a lot of punishment before their death. Though, whether this should be considered in a similar way to Mike Myers‘ (Tony Moran) death in Halloween (d. John Carpenter USA 1978) or the victims of the Guinea Pig series (1985-1989), I can’t be sure. But the gore is plentiful if not original. The effects are reasonably convincing, however I would not say that is a good thing. The content of the film calls for a rather stylistic film that would revel in surplus amounts of gore and blood, whilst being unconvincing.

 

The difference in effects is represented largely by the difference in budget between Evil Dead (1981) and Evil Dead (2013). However, whereas Evil Dead (1981) utilises this as part of its style and thus empowers the film, Evil Dead (2013) does not. Evil Dead (2013) seems to work on the premise that the original was flawed by its budget and special effects. The outrageous nature of the source material is therefore lost in translation to a higher budget, modern remake. For fans of the original film, there are of course many disappointments. An unfortunate theme with Horror remakes: they are made for the very fans that they annoy. For example, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) offers a more serious Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley) than the Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) of A Nightmare on Elm Street (d. Wes Craven USA 1984). They did this without the consideration that fans may actually love the wise cracks of the original. In this way, they largely disregarded the feelings of the audience, and it was this audience that was most likely to go and see the remake – even if they had little hopes for the film. Evil Dead (2013) works on a similar basis, the higher budget and improved special effects only weaken the film. The film does come with some decent nods to Evil Dead (1981), but some just do not hold up to the original. At times they feel like poor imitators, as if the film was trying to parody the original and not pay homage.

 

All in all, Evil Dead (2013) makes for quite a nice modern Horror film. But falls in comparison to the original and has thrown more horror cliché’s in there, just to ensure this position. Evil Dead (2013) makes for a bloody film, to warrant an entertaining watch for Horror fans. But, Evil Dead (2013) follows like so many of the numerous Horror remakes out there. It serves as if the original showed only potential rather than any true brilliance and therefore tries to ‘improve’ upon it. Unfortunately this makes for a pretty insulting film, to the original and to its fans. Please leave our classics alone!

 

Further Reading

A. Waller, Gregory (Ed). American Horrors: Essays on the Modern American Horror Film. University of Illinois Press, 1987.

Francis Jr,James. Remaking Horror: Hollywood’s New Reliance on Scares of Old. McFarland and Co, 2012.

Newman, Kim. Nightmare Movies: Horror on the Screen Since the 1960’s. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011 (2nd Edition).

Evil Dead 2013 on Rottentomatoes

Evil Dead Site

Deadites

Fede Alvarez on Remaking Evil Dead

Ash Williams

Bruce Campbell Official Site

Evil Dead Q+A

On Horror Remakes

Perfect Scary Movie

Strange Film Sam Raimi

Rules of Horror

Evil Dead 1981

Boomstick!

One Liners

Dinner for Five

Icons of Horror 

Decade of Horror

Evil Dead Hand

Evil Dead Tree Rape

Zombi 2 Eye

Video Nasties List



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