28 May 2013

What Could Go Wrong?

When I was younger I asked my Mum how Corned Beef was made to which she replied, “You don't want to know”. I have never eaten it since. Apparently all it is, is beef treated with corns of salt however by leaving it up to my imagination, I created the worst possible scenario. With as little information as possible available, to me, Corned Beef appeared to be the cow’s tits having been fucked off by a randy farmer and left to fester in soupy bucket of bull-spunk and diseased farmyard shit. Interestingly this is kind of like a cinematic technique used in horror movies during which filmmakers cunningly imply violence allowing the audiences imagination to fill in the gaps. For example, in Psycho's famous shower scene, not once do we actually witness the knife penetrate Janet Leigh's body but instead it is simply suggested so heavily that we think we did. Opposing this school of thought however, is Sam Raimi whose entire career has been based on the idea of showing more than we really needed to see. His first film was of course The Evil Dead which was famously made for so little money that, to match the budget now, all you'd need is a few hours on your knees in an alley with a lonely stranger. With that in mind you'd expect Raimi to take the cheaper option of having most of the violence happen off screen as a way of avoiding the cost of effects. In Psycho I only thought I'd witnessed a full on stabbing however with The Evil Dead I very definitely saw a tree get shoved up some screaming girl’s minge.

Since its release in 1981, Raimi's infamous gorefest has gone on to become a cult classic and personally, I fucking love it. I mean perhaps the branch-up-the-vadge was a slight mistake but there's no doubting that The Evil Dead is a masterpiece just brimming with fun, blood, bile and random green gunky shit. However there's also no doubting that over the last thirty years the film has aged pretty badly. The effects are still impressive but they're hardly photorealistic and I'm pretty sure the only people who'll be frightened by it now are those with a life threatening allergy to mushy peas. Though for me, that's not an issue with the clunky stop-motion look only adding to its handmade charm. The actors too where never of the highest quality with the only decent performance coming from a man who is ten-percent human and ninety-percent chin. However if you can only afford one good actor in your entire movie then Bruce Campbell is very definitely the one you'd want.

Starring Mickey Rourke...
In general, the idea of remaking a classic horror film fills me with a  kind of rage that makes blood drip from my ears and hate leak from my soul. The original Amityville Horror was a nun-puking-load-of-bollocks and yet somehow the 2005 remake managed to be even duller. I don't even want to talk about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake because it's too traumatic for me. I've locked the idea of that crappy movie away in the little box of forgotten memories I keep in my brain along with childhood trauma and explanations to my burn-scars. However in the case of The Evil Dead, I awaited it with a kind of optimistic open-mindedness. I figured that at least Raimi was heavily involved with this new one and he'd already pretty successfully remade the film himself with the equally classic Evil Dead 2. Not only that but his reason for wanting to make it again was because of how badly aged the first one has now become. Like I say, I love the shittiness of the original but there is something interesting about seeing it with modern effects and hopefully better acting. I suppose on top of all that, the reason I didn't approach this remake with arse clenching anxiety was because like all the others it wasn't produced by cinematic mega-cunt Michael Bay.

This new Evil Dead begins with a gang of youths holidaying at a cabin in the woods whilst one of their junkie friends goes cold turkey. Obviously this can be quite a tough experience to go through and so it'd be best to do it in a calm, controlled environment. The stupid retards however instead select the most clichéd horror movie setting possible. I'm assuming that an ancient Indian burial ground, nuclear testing site and Joseph Fritzl's basement had already been booked out that weekend. Also I've never had to try and give up a smack habit before but if I ever do, I think I'd prefer a place that didn't have a basement full of cats hanging from the ceiling. I know animals are meant to be therapeutic but I don't think that's still the case if their eyes are popping out of their strangled blue heads. Just to make life a little more interesting, the gang also decide to read from a book that unleashes a shitload of evil demons. I guess in general if you find a book in which somebody has scrawled “don't read this motherfucking shit”, then perhaps it'd be best to put it down and just wait for its film adaptation instead. I found a blood stained threat identical to that in a book once which is why I'm still yet to read The Da Vinci Code.

So having now seen it I guess the biggest question is, is it good enough to justify its existence? Well if I was being generous, I guess I'd say it probably just about is. As I mentioned, Raimi's goal was to remake the film with modern day effects so that he could make something as scary as the original originally was. Well on the first point, the film is very definitely a success as the gore is fucking mental. Blood is casually sprayed everywhere and people puke shit up like they're having a pressure competition at a bulimics convention. There's also a few scenes in which people quickly rip off their own arms as though we're watching a Danny Boyle movie in fast-forward and on crack. However, for me at least this Evil Dead just wasn't scary in the slightest. Stephen King famously described the original as being, “the ultimate experience in gruelling terror”, which this very much wasn't. Nor does this film fix the main issue of the tree rape scene which is simply redone but to a point where the branch goes all the way up the new girl’s vagina and confusingly never comes out or is mentioned again.

"Hey kids!"
But despite all that I genuinely found the film to be really good fun. Once it gets going, the pace of the thing is absolutely relentless and I think the violence is genuinely inventive. I also liked that because the main character was going cold turkey, everybody assumed her first demon attack was either bullshit or just the fevered delusions of a desperate smack-head. Unlike the first film there was no one person here to root for but to be honest I was quite happy to watch all the new characters get chopped up. I'd much prefer a new cast of faceless meat puppets than see anybody new attempt to play the original’s Ash. There's only one man groovy enough to play him and sadly he's at an age where it'd end up being the creepiest thing in the film if he was hanging out with a group of teenagers. In fact by having completely new characters, this new film almost plays out as a kind of sequel in which a fresh group of morons stay in the same cabin with their fates playing out in a slightly different way. I mean they still end up as the main ingredients to cheap supermarket burgers but it's nice that there was some variation from what was expected.

If the new film lets itself down slightly it's that it goes on for about ten minutes too many and accidentally descends dangerously close to the formula of Michael Bay's crappy remakes. It also works too hard at saving the life of a character that I pretty much had nothing invested in anyway. There's a bit where the junkie actually dies but is brought back to life by being stabbed in the heart with a syringe attached to a car battery. I mean if resurrection is that fucking easy then I can't help but think that the NHS is being severely over-funded. Like I say though, I did enjoy the film and I'd like to think it might encourage at least some people to go back and discover the originals. I guess you could argue that this film is a little clichéd but then the The Evil Dead invented the clichés so that really can't be helped. The only way to avoid that issue would be to be subvert it instead but then that wouldn't be an Evil Dead remake but a Cabin In The Woods remake and it's certainly too soon to be rehashing that.

Like I've said, I personally did enjoy it but as a fan of the original- if you go in hoping to be disappointed then you more than likely will be. If it wasn't for the title, I'm sure this film would be forgotten in time but for the ninety minutes it was on I certainly enjoyed myself. Perhaps it was directed by some bloke called Fede Alvarez but Raimi's influence definitely shines through. I've no idea where they're going to go in the sequel, but for now let’s just appreciate that unlike other horror remakes, this was not a complete mess. It won't swallow your soul but if you've got an old student card to fraudulently claim the discount, it's certainly worth at least five quid.

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