Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jason watches EVIL DEAD

As a fan of the original, there's no way I can judge this movie on its own merits. But I'll try.

First off, it's bloody, very bloody. But not very scary. Mostly because every supposed fright is explicitly illustrated in the Book of the Dead just before it happens. So no suspense at all. There has got to be a word for attempted foreshadowing that is this blatant and clumsy. "Telegraphed" is almost right, but that implies it was supposed to be a surprise but there were accidental hints--this wasn't accidental. "Foretold"...kinda, but that implies something mystical, like a prophecy. I think the best word is fore...explicitly-illustrated-to-the-point-where-I-was-frustrated-that-I-practically-had-to-watch-every-damn-gore-scene-twice.

Anyway, how about the Book? It's never called The Necronomicon...that didn't bother me. It didn't have a face on it. That did bother me, the gnarly, sharp-toothed face on the cover is kinda iconic, I wanted to see it. It had English text scrawled all over the inside, written over the original (presumably Sumerian, but I assume gibberish) runes. That bugged me even more. The mystery and the occasional illustration worked so well in the original. I recall hearing a story about how Sam Raimi originally wanted to call his movie BOOK OF THE DEAD, but the distributor forced him to change the title so people wouldn't think they'd have to read a book for the whole movie. Well, putting so much English on the pages and referring back to the book so often results in a movie where the audience reads a book for the whole movie.

The addition of a heroin addiction plot...actually a nice touch, not perfectly pulled off. She doesn't look as skinny/strung out as a true heroin addict, but Hollywood has to have it's pretty actresses rather than realism (and how much can you complain about a lack of realism in this story about demons released by a book in a cabin in the middle of the Michigan woods?) What it does give them is a good reason to not leave the cabin ('We're not leaving until you're clean!') and a reason to not believe her when she starts telling stories of the haunted woods.

Okay, how about the tone. I've seen plenty of people complain that it's not funny like the original. And an approximately equal number of people claiming those complaints come from idiots--the original wasn't funny, it was the sequels EVIL DEAD II and ARMY OF DARKNESS that were funny. Well I know people will disagree and I don't care, but you're both wrong. The original was funny, just not in the broad slapstick manner of the sequels (please, now, trot out your quotes from Raimi, Tapert, and Campbell claiming the original EVIL DEAD was meant to be a serious, scary movie. I will point out that serious movies can still have funny scenes--it's called comic relief and there's plenty of it in the original.) And the remake is funny, too. And I don't mean unintentionally funny, like the original is dated or the remake has some puzzling silly elements. I mean both movies, while taking a serious approach, have a sense of humor (a subtle sense of humor, I guess? Must be for so many people to miss it.) In the original, the saying, "have the blood flow down the screen" is turned into a literal visual gag. In the remake (SPOILER ALERT) the same is done with the phrase "it will rain blood." (END SPOILER). In fact, the tone--including the sense of humor--is the one element that best matches the movie.

In the end, I can almost say that this movie is what Sam Raimi and his team would have made originally if they had the budget and SFX technology of the remake. Except that this fails at being scary, for reasons I explained in my first paragraph. The original kept you guessing, in this remake there is no guesswork involved.

Running Time: 91 minutes
My Total Minutes: 323,518
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