T hey announced yesterday that the long rumored remake of Sam Raimi’s seminal film: ‘THE EVIL DEAD’ is actually happening…
My initial reaction to this was ‘NO! OH GOD NO!’ – Here goes Hollywood; taking one of my most beloved movies, and preparing to rip it into shreds. For almost four decades; the 1981 independent film has inspired countless aspiring filmmakers (many who have come to prominence since seeing it – one need only look at the movie Nancy watches in Wes Craven’s ‘NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET’).
It was famously made on the cheap; championed at an early stage by Stephen King and then it became a phenomenon. It was the ‘midnight movie’ to end all midnight movies. But because Sam Raimi made the film with friends and on the cheap ($370,000 – famously gained from a dentist) it showed many film-makers that you could create something truly special for very little money.
It is not only a brilliant movie, but also an important one. The making of that film is almost a myth; with the many, many books written about it. Its influence is so wide that there have been two (even better) sequels, a musical, some video games and even comic books – one which featured Bruce Campbell’s Ash facing off against Freddy Kruger and Jason Vorhees. But the stories about the film as so vast and varied that it would take a novel to tell them – which is why I recommend Bruce Campbell’s ‘IF CHINS COULD KILL’ as a starting point.
Then there are the many audio commentaries recorded for the many releases, set diary’s and even documentaries. ‘THE EVIL DEAD’ and its more comical sequels: ‘EVIL DEAD 2’ and ‘ARMY OF DARKNESS’ are cultural icons, and unlike other franchises; they’ve yet to be soiled by endless (and often horrible) sequels. But it’s Raimi whose influence continually gets shafted. He went on to direct films like ‘DARKMAN’ and more significantly ‘SPIDER-MAN’ and its sequels.
Then this happened. Raimi suffered endless studio interference from Sony on ‘SPIDER-MAN 3,’ and despite making the studio hundreds of millions of dollars (SPIDER MAN 3 is still to this day the highest grossing film Sony studios has ever released), was fired from (or left) the franchise. And since his removal he has had a bit of bad luck: In 2009 he returned to his horror roots and gave us the spiritual sequel to ‘ARMY OF DARKNESS’ : ‘DRAG ME TO HELL.’ A brilliants mix of slapstick and frights- the film almost played as a ‘personal test’ that Raimi gave himself: A test to see whether he still had the chutzpah to make his long promised and long gestating fourth EVIL DEAD picture.
Actor Bruce Campbell (who arguably makes the films what they are) and Raimi – have been saying for years now (because they are constantly asked) that a fourth evil dead is coming. Last I heard Raimi and his brother Ted had done work on a screenplay. I guess everything was going well on the project until a) ‘Spider Man 3’ ended up a mess and b) ‘Drag Me To Hell’ (despite tripling its budget) was not considered a financially successful film – at least fiscally enough to endorse Horror/Slapstick as a genre capable of delivering the big bucks.
All this meant one thing to us, and one thing only: No ‘EVIL DEAD 4’.
As we would rather see a sequel happen then another potentially franchise destroying remake – all of these recent Remake announcements are disheartening. Poor Sam Raimi – it’s like the same thing that happened after ‘SPIDER MAN 3’ is happening all over again: A reboot for financial reasons: We’re going to see a ‘Spider-Man’ reboot next year, and we’re going to see an ‘Evil Dead’ reboot also. Deja vu.
But then they announced the people creatively involved in the remake – and it isn’t all that bad. I have these three reasons as to why the remake might be okay:
Raimi, Campbell and Rob Tapert are at least producing it
The original team is shepherding it, so it at-least won’t be a Rob Zombie ‘HALLOWEEN’ clusterfuck all over again.
2) Diablo Cody is working on the script
This may at first seem like a worrisome thing. Thinking of the how the writer of ‘Juno’ will be working on the movie – but that’s probably because you haven’t seen ‘Jennifer’s Body.’ That film is great (for the most part) and showcases her ability to strike the right tone required for the remake. The only issue with this is that it looks like we’re getting a remake of ‘EVIL DEAD 2’ (and yes, ‘EVIL DEAD 2′ is technically a remake – but come on, it’s simultaneously a sequel) more than we are part one – as part one is a straight-forward horror flick. But you know, she could be writing a serious script -as much as I hope she isn’t. Watch ‘Jennifer’s Body’ before you jump on hating her.
3) If it’s successful; then we’ll get ‘EVIL DEAD 4’
And that’s the biggest reason why I want this remake, and why I will support it. If it makes a ton of money then ‘EVIL DEAD’ will be back in the public consciousness. They’ll know the moniker – DVD/BLU-RAY sales of the original films will go way up (and maybe ‘ARMY OF DARKNESS will finally get the blu ray treatment in Australia). And if that happens then there might be enough interest in Raimi and the franchise; for a studio to put up the money for a fourth film.
So maybe, just maybe, this remake will lead to a fourth film – and that’s why it should happen. And we may just end up with a pretty decent remake (however much I doubt it)
Here’s the trailer for the original film: