I Smell a Rant: Ramblings of an EVIL DEAD geek

By: Heather Seebach

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I was not always a horror fan. Or at least I didn't know I was. Thanks to having two older brothers, I grew up on a diet of the fun schlock like Killer Klowns from Outer Space, House, and Monster Squad, but I disliked the gory stuff. I'll always remember standing in Blockbuster looking at Army of Darkness on VHS, protesting my father's choice of rental. Fortunately, I caved, and my life was never was the same. The Evil Dead films were my gateway drug into horror, and I have been obsessed with them ever since. I own each film on Blu-ray, DVD, Laserdisc, and VHS (including 5 different VHS versions of the original film). I've met the entire cast of The Evil Dead, plus Sam Raimi. I have seen Evil Dead: The Musical 5 times in 3 different cities. I even have a vial of dirt from the ground where the cabin stood (bless you for that, Fright-Rags!). Not to mention innumerable posters, books, figures, shirts, memorabilia, etc.

A wall in my bedroom - just a  portion of my Evil Dead collection.
So you get it, I'm a freak. Nobody adores these films like I do. I am not only an Evil Dead fan but an Evil Dead snob. I have had countless arguments with people who falsely refer to them as "zombie films." (shudder) It hurt just typing that. The point of all this is that if anybody has a reason to hate the notion of an Evil Dead remake, it would be me. 

I admit I was skeptical at first, but with Sam Raimi's approval and Fede Alvarez (watch his fantastic 5-minute giant robot short film below) attached to direct, I was intrigued. 

But of course the complaints started right away - "You can't remake it, it's perfect!" or "It's not Evil Dead without Bruce Campbell!" or the much-loved "Stop raping my childhood!" What is it about remakes that illicit immediate hatred? Let's discuss!

Remakes: First You Wanna Kill 'Em, Then You Wanna Kiss 'Em. Blow.

Few things are loathed by genre film fans more than remakes. Even an open-minded gal like myself has that immediate knee-jerk reaction when I hear a film I love is being remade. Why is that exactly? Do the remake Nazi's storm our homes and remove all our copies of the original? Does George Romero get punched in the face whenever one of his zombie films gets re-done? Okay, enough hyperbole, you get my point. Our beloved films will always remain - and sometimes become more popular and get new releases - no matter how many shitty remakes are made.

Still, with each new remake, hipster horror fans get their panties in a bunch. Like it or not, kids, horror films make money, so studios will grab at any idea they can to shit out a quick splatter film for a quick buck. So what's easier than simply remaking an old script? Most mainstream moviegoer's have never seen the original Black Christmas or My Blood Valentine anyway. When these sort of half-assed remakes come along, it's irritating to all film lovers because it's driven by pure laziness and greed. 

However, not all remakes are created equal. A soul-less remake produced by Michael Bay is not the same thing as horror fan's new take on an old idea. Alexandre Aja's re-imagining of The Hills Have Eyes was not only fantastic but is often cited as an improvement upon the original. Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead, while technically a remake, was a very different film from Romero's and most horror fans have no problem counting this one among their favorites. 

And lest we forget that two of the greatest horrors - nay, films - of all time are remakes. John Carpenter's The Thing and David Cronenberg's The Fly are classics in their own right but nobody bemoans their existence just for being remakes. Night of the Living Dead (1990) and The Blob (1988) are also widely loved by horror fans. So this constant outcry over contemporary remakes is just plain hypocritical. 

John Carpenter's The Thing is the greatest remake ever made

We can't remake The Evil Dead, it's a friend of ours!

So the inevitable has happened and my beloved film is next on the remake list. Sam Raimi has assured everyone it is a will be a very hard R with lots of practical gore FX. Supposedly the film will use the same basic premise of the original but give it a new spin, also. What more could we want, right? Naturally, the complaints are everywhere. Let's break down the most common ones:

"It's just not Evil Dead without Ash!"

Every time somebody says this, they instantly lose horror fan credibility points in my brain because they clearly have not seen or do not remember The Evil Dead very well. Instead, they only remember the humor and machismo that defined the sequels, NOT the original. As actual fans will recall, Ash was not particularly prominent in the first film, nor was he remotely heroic. It was a gritty little horror movie about 5 teenagers tormented by demons in the woods. There was no chainsaw arm and no "Hail to the king, baby." So this idea that one cannot have an Evil Dead remake without Ash is ridiculous. Furthermore, the alternative to this is, what, cast a 50-something year old actor, who already refused to do it anyway? Or should they replace Bruce with another young actor? I'm sure that would go over real well with the fans. Leaving Ash out of this remake was their best - and truly, only - option.

"Ash can't be a girl! 

Of course we have established there is no Ash but why can't the protagonist be a woman? Sexist, much? In Raimi's own Drag Me to Hell, Alison Lohman was the closest thing to Bruce Campbell since Bruce Campbell. She endured bruises, ooze, blood, mud, and a mouth-full of mealworms for the role of a woman tormented by demons. And apparently Jane Levy had a similar experience on the set of this remake. 

"Why call it Evil Dead at all?"

Presumably to lure in the fanbase, but regardless, fans would bitch. With a different title, once word got out it was a remake, people would cry, "WHERES ASH!?" And if it didn't advertise itself as any kind of relation to Raimi's film, everyone would call it a rip-off. I would have loved a title like "Book of the Dead" or something but I can also understand the filmmakers' desire to reduce confusion and call it what it is.

First image from the Evil Dead remake
The first trailer for Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead has landed online thanks to a sneaky New York Comic Con attendee. The footage will likely be pulled very soon, so watch it quickly. Evidently this red-band sneak preview wow'ed the audience at NYCC with its Raimi-esque flare and heavy gore. 

**UPDATE** Here is the official HQ red-band trailer!

While I am pleased with the no-holds-barred gore, I do worry that the film may be a little too Raimi for its own good. I do no want a rip-off of Sam's style but rather a re-invention. But let's be honest, if this was not called Evil Dead, every horror fan would be shitting their pants to see it. 

Raimi was a teenager when he started working on the original film. It was made 30 years ago on a shoestring budget. While I, obviously, think it is perfect, Sam has always said he'd like to see a new filmmaker make something fresh of his story. And unlike George Lucas, he will NOT go back and change the original based on his own insecurities about it. Regardless of what remake whiners will say, remakes do NOT actually fuck with the original. So what is the harm? I will remain open-minded until this film lands April 2013 - exactly 30 years from the release date of the original. If Mr. Raimi is on-board, so am I.

Oh Captain, my Captain.

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