DVD Review: EVIL DEAD
Jonathan Stryker (Twitter)
Aug 4, 2013 - 12:00:00 PM
Raimi's THE EVIL DEAD (1982) and its sequels are widely revered among genre
fans. The original film, which was shot
in late 1979 and early 1980 and offers up five characters who all suffer from
outdated wardrobe choices, is not what I would consider a terrifying film by
any means, but it is certainly entertaining.
It was one of the first (if not the first) films to put several
characters in a confined space and force them to deal with a violent and
demonic force, spraying the cabin and the screen with lots of blood and
gore. Like George A. Romero's DAWN OF
THE DEAD (1979), THE EVIL DEAD was released unrated and saw much of its success
on the nascent home video revolution of the mid-1980's. Youngsters like myself who are now ensconced
in middle-age used to get a thrill when visiting local video stores to pick up horror
films on display, eager to find that Next Big Find that would entertain us and
our friends. In the days since then, Mr.
Raimi's film has been released on VHS, laserdisc, and DVD (no less than seven
times in this format) and like so many other classics, it was bound to be
Mia (Jane Levy) is a heroin addict
and is taken to the family cabin by her friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia
(Jessica Lucas), and her unreliable brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), his
girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and dog
(the first one to die, of course. See
Tobe Hooper's EATEN ALIVE (1976) for further cliches). Now, I know that films require a suspension
of disbelief to succeed, but if your younger sister were a
heroin addict, would you take her to a location like this in an effort to wean
her off of the drug? Is that even
possible under the circumstances? Don't
they still have methadone clinics? A
cabin in the woods is the last place
I would want to be.
foul stench emanating from the basement reveals a trap door under the rug
smeared with blood. Eric exclaims, "Oh,
can that be blood?" Well, that would be some coincidence if it wasn't! Eric is portrayed by Lou Taylor Pucci, the
actor who played the aloof and disgusted son of Chris Isaak in Gregor Jordan's THE
INFORMERS (2008). Somebody should have informed him that he needed a haircut in
this movie. They all venture into the
basement to find animal corpses in various stages of decay, and if they were
smart they would bolt - but then there would be no movie. Eric manages to be even more annoying than
Mia's brother David; not only does he go wandering about and sticking his nose
into places that he shouldn't, but he also manages to get his hands on the Book
of the Dead called Naturom Demonto and fails to heed its warning by reading the
very names out loud that should never be spoken.
Jessica Lucas plays Olivia and she
should really go back to Melrose Place. She isn't given much to do here except
remind everyone that they really need to help Mia. Although everyone is pretty
much dismembered and ravaged, they all come back by the end of the film.
EVIL DEAD has no doubt divided
diehard evil dead enthusiasts into the "love it" or "hate it"
camps. There is plenty of gore to go
around by the bucket load, and the fact that this movie earned an "R"
rating whereas the original was released unrated illustrates how times have changed
and how bloodshed has become far more acceptable now whereas sexual intimacy is
still considered a big no-no.
are efforts to startle the audience when the characters are possessed by the
demon in question. Propositions for sexual fulfillment are a throwback to
Reagan McNeil's equally vile vituperations in William Friedkin's superior THE
EXORCIST (1973), however in 2013 even the most explicit profanity fails to
shock. The omni-present 1973 Oldsmobile
Delta 88 sedan from Mr. Raimi's original film makes a cameo appearance (whether
or not this is a prop or the actual car from the film original is something
that perhaps the Blu-ray commentary clears up).
standard DVD contains the following special features:
LIFE DIFFICULT - the intense and physically exhausting creation of the film
THE DEAD - director Fede Alvarez re-imagines a cult horror classic
MIA - physical and psychological transformation into Evil Mia
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