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Bad Movie Tuesday: When Horror Forgets its Roots

July 23, 2013


The new Evil Dead is a nasty little thing with none of the charm that made Evil Dead 1 & 2 and Army of Darkness cult classics (Horror Czar John loved it though. review). The movie introduces us to stock characters who will eventually die in incredibly bloody ways. Limbs will be lost, tongues will be cut in half, nail guns will be used, machetes swung, pliers plunged, crow bars bludgeoned and power knives used. It guides us through increasingly violent set pieces until an ending that literally rains blood.

While watching the Dead remake it got me thinking about They Live. John Carpenter made a trio of classics with Kurt Russel (The Thing, Escape from New York, Big Trouble Little China) in the 80s and looked to continue the epic run. However, Kurt wasn’t available for They Live so Carpenter cast professional wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper to play the lead. Between the one-liners, relevant themes and bad acting the film has become a cult classic treasured by horror buffs and pop culture. The reason this film is still popular is because it has bumps and bruises (watch the fight below) that make it endearing.

Greatest fight ever!

The same thing goes for the original Evil Dead. The low budget, bad acting and creativity made it a classic. The movie exuded glee and showcased the skills of Sam Raimi. Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness are completely unique. They are equal parts bonkers, insane and wonderful. They shouldn’t exist on this planet because they are live action looney tunes of beautiful gore and pompous behavior.

Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell executive produced the 2013 remake and director Fede Alvarez wisely chose to make some changes. He cast the lovely Jane Levy as the lead and took out the zany humor and dancing skeletons. Alvarez makes thing bleed extraordinarily well and stays true to the original without stealing it’s style. However, in the process he has made a homogenized horror film that features familiar beats and bloody excess. I began to worry as Alvarez put more emphasis on the practical effects (lots of blood, makeup)  than story. Whenever I hear how practical everything is I get worried because some movies care more about the look than the characters. So, you are stuck with great looking homicide and little reason to care.

The remake is too clean. Sure, it is dirty, violent and bloody. However, it is manicured violence much like many of it’s remake cousins. The acting isn’t bad, the characters are decent and the plot is nicely layered. This film lovingly steals from the predecessor and finds new ways to get to the same moments. The movie is done so well it left zero room for personality. The technical superiority made it a sleek pilot-less drone of bloody carnage.

Horror fans don’t ask for high art. They just ask to be entertained. Maybe that is why I love films like Devil, Insidious, Conjuring and Session 9. I got caught up in their stories and genuinely liked some the characters which allowed me to forgive the familiar tropes.

The technical superiority of the remade Evil Dead and adherence to the original series has created a film with little character. I hope in the future horror films allow themselves to have a little bit of fun.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. johnleavengood permalink
    July 23, 2013 8:20 am

    Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Did you just BMT what I called the best and most cleverly remade remakes of the last 10 years!?! LOL

    • July 23, 2013 9:18 am

      It looked amazing and Jane Levy is always good but the movie had zero charm, big chins or personality. If I appreciated the Horror genre more this would have a spot in my library.

      • johnleavengood permalink
        July 23, 2013 9:49 am

        Well, this will ALWAYS have a place in MY heart and on my movie shelf. I’ll defend Evil Dead. You can defend recent Dolph Lundgren releases. LOL

        If only there was a Dolph vs the Evil Dead…then we could love and defend a bad movie TOGETHER!!!!!

  2. July 23, 2013 9:53 am

    Whoa! Mind is blown. Dolph would put a chainsaw on his leg so he could front kick lethal chainsaw blows.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      July 24, 2013 10:55 am

      Dolph is a GIANT! His arms look like legs and his legs look like HUUUUUGE legs. His front kicks are already lethal. LOL


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