Gruesome Evil Dead lives fast, dies hard… again and again and again

by Mark Burger

In the last several years, we’ve had the remakes of Halloween (and Halloween II), The Hills Have Eyes (and Part II), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (more than one), Friday the 13th , A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Crazies, Black Christmas, The Fog and any number of classic horror films from the ’70s and ’80s — Carrie is due in October — yet few have come remotely close to equaling the impact of the originals, never mind surpassing it. (The 2009 version of My Bloody Valentine may be the only exception.)

If nothing else, however, these remakes and spin-offs have added additional luster to their predecessors. Suddenly, the bad movies of yesteryear don’t seem so bad when compared to the bad movies of today.

The latest remake of a horror classic is the inevitable updating of Evil Dead (**), directed by first-timer Fede Alvarez, who also co-wrote the screenplay.

The original film, released 30 years ago, marked the cinematic bows of director Sam Raimi (lately making big-budget blockbusters such as Oz: The Great and Powerful), producer Robert Tapert and producer/star/cult icon Bruce Campbell.

The original film also helped put New Line Cinema on the map and proved the marketing pull of a Stephen King endorsement.

In the new film, Jane Levy plays Mia (a nod to Farrow, star of Rosemary’s Baby?), who traipses up to an accursed cabin with (expendable) friends in a last-ditch effort to kick her drug addiction. Fear not, because it’s not long before the trapdoor to the (reeking) basement is opened and someone unwisely thumbs through the Book of the Dead. (Particularly unwise, it should be noted, is the notion of reading it aloud.)

It’s not long before the hellraising and bloodletting commence in earnest, as well as those inevitable gems of dialogue including “This is crazy.” “This is insane.” “This can’t be happening.”

Sure it can’t. Sure it will. At least it happens in rapid fashion.

Evil Dead isn’t a particularly good remake or good movie, but it’s not lazy, and the special effects are impressive — and undoubtedly more expensive than the entire original film cost to make. The acting, by and large, may be terrible, but things progress so quickly that the intended audience probably won’t mind.

Will there be blood? Oh, indeed… indeed. Just take a gander at the box-office.

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