I love the Evil Dead series
Like seriously the Evil Dead series were one of my first horror series. The original movies were hugely contributory to my development as a horror fan (Lets leave aside the fact that actual horror is lacking for the most part, I’m trying to make a point). As many I am very skeptical of remakes because quite frankly the majority of them suck and suck terribly. However my first reaction to hearing there was an Evil Dead remake was not the standard “Oh this is going to suck” rather it was “You better give this franchise the respect it deserves”. An opinion held by many is that something should not be remade unless the original was horrible. However my opinion is that you shouldn’t do a remake unless you have a good story to tell and the remake does tell a good story. It has gotten good reviews but some of the criticism was that it is not going to garner a cult following. I called this criticism and it is BS because the original Evil Dead and the remake despite following key notes are surprisingly different just based on tone. My goal here is to compare and contrast the two movies. So lets start out with what is similar. Spoilers will most likely follow
-Cabin in the woods
-5 vaguely 20 somethings
-Large amounts of gore via practical effects
Now that we have that out of the way lets talk about the original. The original film was released in 1981. It had a $375,000 budget. I understand that this isn’t a lot and it shows. While the film is good it doesn’t have the greatest effects. However the bad effects are part of the charm of the original. It was meant to be taken seriously ( I think) but everyone has a point when they stop and say “Okay this is now funny”. Two scenes that are like this for me are the point when an eyeball flies across the room into a girl’s mouth and the scene where Ash (who in subsequent movies became badaas extraordinaire) surrounded by Deadites who are psychologically torturing him says “You bastards. Why are you doing this?” in a monotone. So while the original tried for horror I also think that to some degree that Raimi knew he was making a B-movie. It has a tongue in cheek aspect you get when you pull some crap that says “Yes I know what I’m doing and I know you people like it”. Instead of the outright parody/ action-comedy that later entries in the series became. “Gory but kind of funny” That’s the original in a nutshell
Now by comparison the remake came out Friday. It had a $14,000,000 budget. It has grossed almost double that in the opening weekend in the US alone. Its difficult to say right now whether it will be as successful as the original which ended up grossing $ 2,400,000 in the US (speaking in terms of gross vs budget). Whatever the case this does demonstrate that the new film is not bad. However its tone is so amazingly different from the original. It plays everything straight. The Deadites are gruesome and do horrifying things to their vessels and to those around them. The imagery is disturbing even for a seasoned horror fan (needle meet eye. need I say more?). the gore is shoved in your face just as much if not more so than the original movie. There are loving send-ups to the originals and some dark humor but its very much restrained. The actors actually act, which as I pointed out previously did not always happen in the original. This is “What if we made a somewhat silly horror actually hard to watch (in a good way)”.
Now one more thing I should talk about is which is better. Many will say the original and they have that right that is their opinion. Hell I like the original better than the remake but (and this is where I’m going to catch flak) I think objectively this new one MIGHT be better. Lets face it the original had a cult following but i don’t think the original Evil Dead trilogy really reached the nigh-unstoppable juggernaut of geekdom until Evil Dead 2 hit and subsequently Army of Darkness made it an everlasting cult series. My advice? Watch everything. Watch the old trilogy and marvel at the awesome as it goes on. Watch the new one and see just how disturbing the premise can get. And watch out for any rumors of Cambell working with Raimi because according to Raimi Army of Darkness 2 might actually. This is me signing off and saying: If you find a book bound in human flesh and inked in blood, RUN AWAY, unless of course you want a chainsaw hand.