Five reasons why the upcoming remake/retread is bound to be awful…
I’ve been meaning to write about next year’s “Evil Dead” remake since I saw the launch of the red-band trailer last Halloween, but I haven’t been able to for one primary reason: because every time I think about this upcoming abomination of celluloid, I become too angry to link up coherent sentences in my head. I’ve actually tried to sit down and iron out a blog post about it a couple of times, but during every attempt, I had to slam my laptop shut in disgust and just walk away. Not dwelling on the subject at all, I suppose, may end up saving me a couple of fist-shaped holes in the drywall.
I’ve gone on record about a billion times regarding my adulation for “The Evil Dead.” I never get tired of telling people about my quixotic quest to find a VHS copy back in the day, after reading blurbs in the Leonard Maltin film book about how disgusting it was. I ended up finally scoring a copy at the downright skuzziest mom and pop in town - they didn’t even have box art for the movie, it was just a piece of lumpy Styrofoam with the words “Evil Dead” written on it and a Roman numeral “I” positioned underneath it. The video copy itself was absolutely horrible - if I didn’t know any better, I would say it was a copy recorded off HBO sometime in the early 1990s - but as soon as I jammed that little rectangle of evil in my VCR, I just knew my life would never be the same.
I’ve written so much about “The Evil Dead,” and it’s influence on middle-school me, that it’s just redundant to mull the same-old stuff for the one quintillionth time. What I will re-state, however, is threefold: a.) “The Evil Dead” remains arguably my all-time favorite movie, in any genre, b.) it inspired me to pursue a career in the arts (because after watching it, I was convinced ANYBODY with a camera, pluck and a lengthy set of ideas could make exquisite trash cinema) and c.) it instilled inside me a sense of DIY ethos, an independent spirit, if you will, that found not only quality, but virtue, in making low-budget, un-financed projects.
Which, of course, brings us to the subject of the “Evil Dead” remake, a big-budget do-over scheduled for a national, theatrical release next spring. Seeing the much-ballyhooed/criticized trailer earlier this year was a downright shock to me, primarily, because I had no idea the long-discussed remake was in post-production, let alone already filmed. And needless to say…I was not impressed by what I saw.
Now, I haven’t seen the “Evil Dead” remake, and unless it cures all diseases known to man, I won’t be seeing it, either. In some ways, you could attack me for decrying something that I haven’t even encountered yet, or, you could look at me as a guy with a good sense of depth perception that knows when we’re about to hit a brick wall of bullshit at 90 kilos per hour. The writing, as they say, is clearly on the wall here, and I’d venture to guess that there’s a 99.999999999989 percent chance the “Remade Dead” is going to not only suck, but suck hard enough to cause a magnetic field reversal and end humanity as we know it.
So, why do I think the movie is going to blow, and magnificently? Well, here’s five iron-cast reasons as to why the “Evil Dead” remake simply cannot succeed as a cinematic retread…
REASON NUMBER ONE:
It’s Not a Product of the Same Conditions as the Original
The production process of “The Evil Dead” is a part of Gen Y lore - in fact, you could even say that the success of the project is pretty much the quintessential Millennial fantasy made flesh. A bunch of Michigan State dropouts spend their entire college stay making Three Stooges homages instead of studying for biology class, and after making the greatest backyard horror movie of all time, manage to cajole some financer to give them moolah to make this insanely violent, hyper-original horror movie for roughly the same amount of money today that would earn you a new SUV. Being the professional sorts they are, the filming process took over FIVE years, with Raimi, Tapert and Campbell doing special effects in their grandmothers’ attic and having to film outdoor scenes inside of garages with barely enough walking room for more than two people. And then, there’s the urban legends about the sheer torture the crew had to go through to make the flick - but yeah, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about those by now, anyway.
Some people say the inherent “cheapness” of the original “Dead” was what gave it its aesthetic charm, but if you ask me, it’s what made the movie work in its totality. Had the makers of the film had an actual budget to work with, the entire spirit of the flick would’ve been different. It was a team effort, constructed by a ragtag ensemble of highly passionate (and highly broke) individuals that were willing to substitute unbridled creativity for financial backing. The process behind “The Evil Dead” simply cannot be replicated again, and as a result, I think it’s highly, highly improbable that a re-do under more favorable economic conditions can result in the same highly original, highly energetic and highly entertaining product.
I guess you could say that the heart of the matter here is that “The Evil Dead” remake just doesn’t have the same contextual significance than the original had. The original “Dead” came out during the height of the American degenerate cinema Renaissance, at a time when independent films still had distribution options and the term “CGI” was completely non-existent. The original “Dead” was something of a counter-culture, punk rock horror flick that was reactionary to the multi-million dollar, kid-friendly “horror” flicks of the time, like “Poltergeist” and “The Amityville Horror.” It brought the genre back into the gutter where it rightfully belonged, only infused with a sort of DIY creativity that made it stand out from the million billion slasher flicks of the timeframe. The stunning camerawork in the film was basically Sam’s means of “covering-up” the fact that the crew didn’t have enough money to film things conventionally; the movie was a lot of fun, no doubt, but it also carried a pretty palpable amount of “F U” to the industrial movie complex of the early ‘80s.
As a $14 million film with CGI effects using SAG actors and actresses, that same independent spirit just isn’t there for the “Evil Remake.” It’s not a labor of love and fury made by starving youngsters the same way the original was, and the film will almost assuredly lack the somewhat political animosity that the original carried against the Hollywood system of horror. Simply put: how are we supposed to expect the same product when the process is complete anathema to the system that made the original offering to begin with?
REASON NUMBER TWO:
It’s Being Helmed by a Totally Inexperienced Director (and a Screenwriter We Know for a Fact SUCKS)
You can check out his last “movie,” a 2009 iMovie called “Panic Attack,” and honestly? I’m not seeing what Raimi sees in this kid. Yeah, he’s good with Final Cut Pro, but as far as technique, and originality, and the ability to produce anything beyond an aesthetically interesting product? Not only has this Alvarez tyke NOT proven that he can make films with depth, he hasn’t even proven that he can make actual films, period. Hell, even Raimi and Co. had at least a feature film under their belt before getting the green light for “The Evil Dead.” For that matter, the beta project the kids used to get funding for “The Evil Dead” was a lengthier, more nuanced production than anything Alvarez has ever handled. It’s one part of a dyad of unavoidable suck, which goes from pessimistic to downright hopeless once you figure out who’s beyond the remake’s script: Diablo Cody.
OK, so the script is actually credited to a four man team involving Fede, Sam, some guy that works with Fede and Cody, but just having the “Juno” scribe as a part of the parallelogram is like some sort of furtive warning that pure suck is ahead of us. Can Cody make a straight-up film as opposed to a cross-referential hodgepodge of pop cultural name checks? Well, if you’ve ever seen anything she’s written, you know that’s simply impossible. Hell, we already LET her take a stab at “real horror,” and the result ended up being a tremendously horrible train wreck noteworthy simply because of a pointless scene in which Megan Fox and her toe thumbs play tongue lacrosse with that huge-eyed chick from “Red Riding Hood.” Odds are, the Necronomicon will have at least one New Kids on the Block sticker placed on it somewhere, because, you know, it’s all kooky and kitschy and stuff.
And for all you poor souls that think that having Raimi on board as a writer is enough to save the movie from utter crappiness, just remember: this is the same dude that penned such cinematic wonders as “Easy Wheels,” “M.A.N.T.I.S: The T.V. Movie” and, gulp, “Spider-Man 3.” Like several tons of fertilizer, the net outcome here could be a thunderous explosion of shit, no doubt.
Reason Number Three:
Seriously…Why is Everything So Green?
Go ahead, watch it. You have my permission…to have your eyes blinded by what appears to be celluloid soaked in lime Jell-O. I don’t know if this Fede kid is trying to make some sort of abstruse environmental message with the movie or what, but this much is incontestable: if the hard R-violence doesn’t make your stomach churn, the monochrome, Game Boy-esque cinematography of the movie might just be enough to have you dry heaving in theaters.
Reason Number Four:
There’s No Way it Will Have the Same Impact as its Inspiration
When “The Evil Dead” was originally released, nobody was praising its premise as being original; five kids go into the woods, and they DON’T come out of them with the same number of arms and legs they used to. Even in the late 1970s, it was a done-to-death convention, and after a billion-trillion “Evil Dead” rip-o…err, homages…like “Cabin in the Woods” and “Cabin Fever,” the narrative hook seems even more hackneyed and lifeless today.
“The Evil Dead” had a profound effect when it was initially released, because at the time, IT WAS something different. Slasher flicks were a dime a dozen, and a super-gory, no-budget supernatural splatter flick was pretty much anathema to U.S. horror at the time. It took a standard template, amped it up to a billion, cut no corners, and drove home its point with highly innovative camerawork, an aesthetic and pacing model that was totally contra to everything else out there at the time, and oh yeah! It was violent as all shit, too. Watching people have pencils jammed through their ankles and sexually assaulted by tree limbs was the kind of stuff audiences just weren’t used to circa 1983 - today, however, it’s pretty much cinema du jour, thanks to all of those lame torture porn flicks like “Saw” and “Hostel” and “Madea’s Witness Protection.”
The standard of shock has been raised dramatically since then, and since we already KNOW what gimmicks the movie is going to use (it is a remake, after all), then how in the bluest of hells is the flick supposed to have even a modicum of surprise or innovation?
Reason Number Five:
How Could they Possibly Make it Live Up to the Original?
While there have been some decent horror remakes over the years, here’s a litmus test for you: just how many remakes have you seen, over the last fifteen years, that were BETTER than the original movies?
Go ahead, hit up Wikipedia, and try your best.
And as a final note, I would just like to parrot what one of my friends recently said on the matter, who also considered the upcoming remake to be utterly pointless.
“Besides, there’s already a great remake of ‘The Evil Dead out there,’” he said to me.
“It’s called 'Evil Dead 2.'”