Should we be scared of the new ‘Evil Dead’?

Screenshot of Bruce Campbell as Ash in the original Evil Dead.
Screenshot of Bruce Campbell as Ash in the original Evil Dead.

Rio Theatre’s Alex Chisholm and I engage in a soul-swallowing discussion

By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor

To say I merely love The Evil Dead is an understatement only mortals can fathom. 1981’s The Evil Dead is a testament to independent filmmaking, practical effects, original horror, and campiness. From its introducing of Bruce Campbell onto the world to its immensely creepy setting of an actual abandoned cabin to its infamous “tree rape” scene, The Evil Dead is a classic in every regards. So it shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone to know I’m not exactly amped for Evil Dead, which comes out this Friday.

Sam Raimi was the man behind the original film (and its two sequels-of-sorts), and as we know from the Spider-Man trilogy (2002–2007), Drag Me to Hell (2009), and Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013), Raimi’s gone on to do bigger, albeit more questionable films in his career. Raimi is still involved in this new take on The Evil Dead, as is Campbell, but only as producers. Even with their guidance attached, is it silly of me to be scared of “the most terrifying film you will ever see” for a completely different reason?

In anticipation of Evil Dead, The Rio Theatre will once again be showing the entire trilogy back-to-back this Saturday in semi-impromptu fashion (the event was created just a few days ago). Programmer and manager of The Rio and all-around cool guy Alex Chisholm spoke to us about the upcoming event, his own experiences with The Evil Dead and his feelings towards the new film.

“Probably the first one,” Chisholm answers which is his favourite of the three. “I first saw it in the eighth grade—there was a room full of us and we rented it on VHS and we were all terrified… it had the most impact.” Chisholm also filled us in on what he’s followed of the new Evil Dead’s development so far:

“It’s not so much a remake as [it is] putting new characters years later in the original cabin and seeing how they would deal with [the horrifying demon curse]. I don’t think there’s an ‘Ash’ (Bruce Campbell’s character) in the cast, they’re not going to recast the exact characters, but they’re going to put new people into the scene. It’s almost like sending someone to the Bates Motel 30 years later.”

To reiterate, Raimi will just be producing the new Evil Dead. This time around, Uruguay’s Fede Alvarez served as director. Alvarez became a YouTube sensation when his 2009 short Panic Attack! went viral and caught the attention of Raimi himself.

“I’m not a fan of remakes, but the bottom line comes down to the money. If [Raimi] wants to make good money off his idea, let him [laughs]. But I think it’s not as simple as ‘take the check and walk away,’ he wants it done the right way. [Raimi’s team] seem to really believe in the guy they’ve hired, it’s not just like they sold away the concept they’re just going to let the studio trash it or something.

“They’ve also made sure that [the film’s] going to use actual, real effects rather than CGI to try to keep it in the tradition of the original. I also think too that, [because] the first film was made completely hand-to-mouth… they slaved over it… so it may even be a personal experiment to see how it could be done with a ‘real’ budget.”

To wrap up our chat, Chisholm talked a little about how The Rio will be handling the release of this new film.

“The next main film we’re going to show for a couple weeks is the new Star Trek. If Evil Dead ends up being a really good movie, we might show it as a one-off a year later, that’s what we did with Drag Me to Hell—which by the way, I absolutely loved.

“We’ve [shown the Evil Dead trilogy] before and it was so popular, it’s one of our most requested events to bring back. We decided to play it again in honour of the upcoming ‘remake;’ there’s been a real demand to see the originals again. It’s the usual, there will be prizes for best costume, bar service during the movies, and you get the three original misadventures of Ash.”

Be sure to check out the original trilogy at The Rio this Saturday at 7 p.m., and stay tuned for my review of Evil Dead in next week’s issue of The Other Press!