Join us this week as we tackle not one, not two, not even three films! This jam-packed episode covers The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, Evil Dead (2013), and Ash vs. Evil Dead.
What can we say about the Evil Dead series that hasn’t already been said? The films have been discussed and re-discussed ad nauseum. But hey, because we love you, we’re going to do it anyway!
The Evil Dead (1981)
Sam Raimi has always been “The Little Filmmaker Who Could.” He and a group of his long-time pals got together with a meager $350,000 budget, and through ingenuity and a DIY-spirit, produced one of the all-time most-heralded motion pictures in the horror genre. Raimi utilized innovative camerawork and practical special effects – splashed with unexpected use of comic timing – to make his first film standout among the more mainstream horror films of its time.
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
While Evil Dead was a hit (making back more than three times its budget at the box office), Raimi decided he’d like to take another stab at the film. Is it strange to want to remake your own film only a few years after its successful release? Kinda, but whatever! Maybe due to the crew’s relative lack of experience in filmmaking the first go-round, and (more probably) the dramatic surge in budget ($3.5 million this time), Raimi wanted to remake his story with a different approach.
The Evil Dead II version of the story kicks off the same way: four friends spend their Spring Break in a cabin in the woods, and are attacked by demonic forces. However, the more traditional spooky story elements from the first film are replaced by cartoonish violence and sticky gore. It’s a fun film – funny, even – and gives Bruce Campbell the first opportunity to really shine in his character.
Army of Darkness (1992)
Like saying you “like a little coffee in your cream,” the third installment in the Evil Dead series puts a little horror in its comedy. In Army of Darkness, our hero Ash is transported into the Middle Ages, and has to use his bravado to get himself home.
The film is downright silly at times, but altogether enjoyable – especially if you see it when you’re 13. Army of Darkness is the kind of film that, if you see it at a young age, will help shape your sensibilities forever.
Evil Dead (2013)
Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell produced this remake of the 1981 film, in hopes to give the series a scarier reboot. The film, directed by Fede Alvarez, may get a bum rap from Evil Dead purists, but we think Alvarez’s slant offers a deeper perspective on the story. The sillier elements are stripped away from this version, which provides for very little levity in this serious horror film. All in all, though, it’s a worthwhile remake.
Side note: you may have heard Alvarez’s name recently because he is the director behind the critically-acclaimed summer 2016 genre smash hit, Don’t Breathe.
Ash vs. Evil Dead (TV series, 2015- )
Now here’s where things get dicey. Ash vs. Evil Dead was originally set to be a follow-up film to the 2013 effort, bringing back Campbell as Ash and possibly teaming him up with our lone heroine (pun intended), Mia. However, it was decided that a TV series should be made that seems to have ignored the reboot/sequel, as well as the events of Army of Darkness (due to issues with the film rights).
Well, the good news is Bruce Campbell is indeed back! And the odd news is it’s not exactly a follow-up to the 2013 story. Rather, it picks up sometime after the events of Evil Dead II. The story centers on Ash as an aging Lothario who, again, battles evil and cracks wise. And he has two new sidekicks by way of a couple of coworkers (Dana DeLorenzo & Ray Santiago) from his not-S-Mart-but-similar job. It’s possibly a zanier follow up than Army of Darkness, and it is definitely not scary-horror. But, when it works, it works.
What’s our takeaway from all this? As we get older, our sensibilities may change; what we once loved as teens or young adults may grow tired or banal. Once you’ve seen something “a million times,” the law of diminishing returns starts to apply, and maybe you become less enthused as you previously were. Certainly we can say that’s happened just a bit in our experience with the Evil Dead series, but we can’t ever deny its influence in our lives. The series won’t ever be unappreciated. Ash Williams will always be the dangerous, lovable buffoon with a chainsaw hand, and the Evil Dead story will remain a classic piece in the horror lexicon. Click below, and have a listen as we fully dissect all the Evil Dead has to offer.
Check out what Elbee and Andrew thought of these films and more by tuning in every other Monday for Vincent Price’s Laugh! Subscribe on iTunes (or your favorite podcast app), and leave us a rating or review. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter!