Saturday, July 5, 2014

Evil Dead ( Blu-ray + UltraViolet Digital Copy) (2013)

Evil DeadI am not happy. Great remake, but I was expecting an Unrated cut for blu-ray. If the studio thinks they are double-dipping off me, think again. I'm waiting on the Hobbit (extended cuts already confirmed) and I'm waiting on this too. Stop being so damn greedy Hollywood!

When I first heard that Evil Dead was being remade, I wasn't happy. I've grown tired of reboots and remakes and I felt that remaking Evil Dead was akin to trampling on sacred ground. After discovering that Raimi and Campbell were backing it, I gave in and joined the the party, my uptight "Dead purist" friends be damned. This version starts out with the same creepy cabin in the same creepy woods but with a new group of twenty somethings unwittingly walking into the slaughter. A new element is introduced when we find out that the gang is trying to help their friend Mia recover from a nasty heroin addiction. Making the trip is her estranged brother David who wasn't around when Mia had to deal with their mother's death. Needless to say, there are a lot of family issues that the two never hashed out and hard feelings are being felt.

If being drug out to a creepy cabin in the woods by her friends wasn't bad enough, things are going to get worse for Mia. Ignoring all blatant signs to get out of dodge,(decaying cats strung up on the ceiling, A blood stained floor)the group decides to go poking around the basement where they find a book made out of human skin. The nerdy hipster friend(Eric) can't keep his hands off of it and decides to read it, going so far as to pencil trace the words that have been scribbled out. His meddling causes forest demon(s)to spring forth from their dormancy and they're quite smitten with the venerable Mia. To make matters worse, her friends take her warnings as the paranoid ramblings of a junky coming down from a fix. Soon the gore hits the fan and one by one the friends get possessed and off themselves and each other in increasingly gruesome ways.

I was pleased with Evil Dead. The acting was a little wooden at first but when Mia and David's past was established,I felt that it gave the plot a solid anchor. The gore was turned up a couple notches from the original but there were times when it reached absurd levels. I couldn't help laughing aloud when the characters kept using duct tape in attempts to reattach severed limbs. with that aside, Evil Dead delivers a solid film that even "Dead purists" will enjoy. I'd say that the film is more " cringe enduing" than "terrifying" but still very enjoyable none the less. I challenge you "Dead purist" to check it out!

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So, first off, Evil Dead 2 was really just a reimagining-remake of Evil Dead. So, too, is this movie. How is this movie different and why should you care about it? Well, it takes all of the elements, scenes, desperate tone and sets of Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 and then distorts them just enough that even though we recognize each of them, we never really know when or how they're coming.

The Evil Dead playbook includes elements like reading from the wrong damned book, running through wall crawlspaces, erratic POV chases in the woods, tree rape (for lack of a better word), entrapment in the woods, untrustworthy mirror images, laughing deer heads, slamming doors, chainsaws, severing of "infected" hands, the famous bite on the hand from an infected significant other, burying your significant other, the rise from the dead of your significant other, the possessed pretending to be human to appear vulnerable, singing in the cellar...oh, and about 110 gallons of liquid gore! Might I add, it's all real gore, not some CGI spray coming from CGI demons.

So I told you it had all the same elements AND I just listed them. So did I ruin anything for you? Believe it or not, NO. While all of these elements are present, they have been chopped up, modified, meshed with other elements, spread across the entire cast or lumped into one. For example, there is no character that fills the role of Ash. Not really. But you'll see "Ash" moments played out by different characters as well as "Ash" lines and other Ash-isms. What's great about this is that you don't know who, if anyone, is going to survive this movie. What a nice touch. It all feels so familiar to Evil Dead fans yet, despite this familiarity, you never know what's in store except for a few iconic scenes.

The lighting, set design and cinematography were perfect. The mood went from "something doesn't feel quite right" to straight up chilling and surreal. Obscure camera angles brilliantly contributed by making tense moments much less comfortable even for unshakable horror fans.

Likewise, the characters were great. I had doubts at first. When we meet them it feels like any well-produced horror movie. David (Shiloh Fernandez; Red Riding Hood, Deadgirl), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci; Carriers), Olivia (Jessica Lucas; Cloverfield, The Covenant) and David's girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) all go out to a cabin in the woods to help David's sister Mia (Suburgatory's Jane Levy showing us that more than just a sweetie) kick her drug addiction which has nearly killed her. Natalie seems naïve, David has never been there for his family before, Olivia is a take charge nurse helming this mission and Eric is pleasantly reminiscent of what they're remaking as a 70s-80s curious yet skiddish kind of guy who "thinks" he knows what he's in for. Mia is likable, but you can see she has the will and flightiness to be problematic even without evil demons' involvement.

As this intervention-rehab sets sail, one of them reads a few words from a skin-bound tome in the carrion-littered basement (a bit of a red flag already, I think) and some odd things start happening. But no matter how odd, out of character, escalating to psychotic and murderous the events, to some they fall under the veil of Mia having a breakdown. The actors all do a fine job.

The big question on everyone's mind seems to be "was this remake worthy of Evil Dead [and Evil Dead 2]?" I think that whether or not people like this movie, the answer will be a mixed bag. My personal opinion is YES IT IS. Granted, there is none of the slapstick comedy of Evil Dead 2 or uber-over-the-top maniacal demon taunts of Evil Dead. The only laughs you'll get are familiar lines that were funny in the originals thoughtfully woven throughout the dialogue in such understated ways that unless you're a diehard fan you'll probably miss them altogether. However, we get every bit of the gastrointestinal gross-out gore and then some!!! On top of that we get some truly brutal and sadistic scenes that will make you cover your mouth, cover your eyes, hold your breath or spit swears of disbelief at the screen.

It's hard to believe that Sam Raimi was only a producer and that this was Fede Alvarez' first feature length picture.

So please, give this a chance. Don't skip it because the last ten horror remakes, reboots or re-imaginings disappointed you. This is clearly a remake, but the scenes you'll see never feel like you've seen them before.

Read Best Reviews of Evil Dead ( Blu-ray + UltraViolet Digital Copy) (2013) Here

Remake. Reimagining. Reboot. Sequel. You can use many terms to describe this film but this addition to the Evil Dead franchise manages to create a niche all it's own composed of some appreciated unpredictability, recycled ideas from other films and a plethora of gore soaked goodies. Set in present day the film centers on a group of friends gathered to help a young woman beat her heroin addiction. Mia played by Jane Levy in an uneven but decent performance is that young woman who is the first to fall victim to the notorious necronomicon which of course leads to a night of sadistic horror, the likes of which you've come to expect from these films. Solid and sexy Shiloh Fernandez turns up as her abandoning brother with a slightly melodramatic past, handsome Lou Taylor Pucci as his too curious friend Eric, the talented and gorgeous Jessica Lucas as the most believable of the bunch Olivia and Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie, David's girlfriend and the not so great actress of the group. The direction from Fede Alvarez is solid I think if a little generic although I am impressed by the enormity of this guy's balls. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous from it's heightened suspenseful camera angles and the ones that capture the scenery in just the right way to the beautiful composition of light through out the film, it's really very commendable. Speaking of commendable the old school nod to practical effects is much appreciated and way more effective than the CGI crap that crowds multiplexes nowadays. But all in all the film feels feels a little recycled with not much an identity of it's own. it borrows freely from the Evil Dead films and other similar films like it and in truth feels more like a sequel than an actual remake and in that sense it never really feels like it can stand on it's own. Don't get me wrong the film has a barrage of wonderfully gory set pieces but when you look up Evil Dead 30 years from now on the net I'm pretty sure this won't be what comes up. The screenplay however does have some nice touches the reasoning behind them staying is well though out even if the opening is a little hammy and confusing and the constant merry go round effect of who is the films real main character is wonderfully deceptive. That being said, my expectations were set very high I'm a huge fan of the Evil Dead films and I had recently watched them and the buzz on this film has been incredible and I bought into a little against my better judgement. When it first started out I didn't feel much of anything and than as it went on it was decent enough but the disappointment started to creep in. I can't say that the feeling ever truly went away completely but the film culminates too such a grand, horrific, entertaining, completely over the top, ickfest finale I couldn't help it when the slight blues fell away replaced with a childish grin that helped me to remember why I have been such a big horror fan since I was a kid. And for that reason alone it's more than worth the price of admission a few times. 4/5

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3 1/2 Stars = Very Good

Ah, the original "Evil Dead,", is one of my top ten horror films of all time. I saw it when it came out at the drive-in theater. What a roller coaster ride, with screams echoing through out the parking lot, & funny enough, many of them shrieking was the guys! I always thought years later, that this film begged a remake, as it was shot on a social security budget, & the advances in special effects have came a long ways. Well, I finally got my chance yesterday to see the remake of "Evil Dead!" What did I think?

The good:

First thing off you notice about the remake of "Evil Dead," is that the acting has improved by light years, not that the acting was of zero talent in the original, but it was very uneven with each actor. Here everyone can act. I guess it helps that you've got more of a budget. The second thing is that the film gives you a prologue, & a fairly good reason why the group of people come to the now famous cabin in the woods for a visit. The third, & the main reason, is the greatly improved special effects & make up! I have to admit, I was quite amazed, not that the special effects are better than any current horror film with a budget, but how graphic they are! The original "Evil Dead" was one of the goriest horror films of it's time. Even by today's standards, it's gory. I really was not expecting the remake to be as explicit, even more so in the gore department with a R rating than the original! The original was unrated, & back in the time it was made, there was a lot more leniency in what graphic material you could put in a film than today. The fourth, is the main demon is pretty good, though she reminds me of a second rate Regan from "The Exorcist," both physically & personality wise, but then again, no one is going to replace Linda Blair as a person possessed! Actually, all the demons were well done, & they were not only sadistic, but hugely masochistic too! So I was actually astounded at how gory this film is, but does all of this make me forget the original? No, not for a moment!

The Bad:

Ok, where to start? Well, lets start with the characters & work our way down. As I said, there was good reason why this group of people chose to come to the cabin, but what they did afterward was pretty brainless. I mean we have some intelligent people here, at least their supposed to be. We got a teacher, we got a nurse, we got a caring brother & his girlfriend, & last but not least, his junkie sister, who while being a junkie, seems to be very intelligent. So here's the rub, when they get to the cabin & smell something putrid rising from the basement, they go down to investigate. They find dead cats everywhere hung from the basement ceiling. They find that something or someone was burned. They find (though it's not called this in the film) the "Necronomicon," better known as the "Book of The Dead." It's all wrapped up in barbwire. So ok, being intelligent people, who think witchcraft has been performed in the cabin, wouldn't you think they'd be heading for the next county? No! The teacher, who'd you expect to be the smartest of the bunch, or at least the one with the most common sense, takes the barbwire off the book, unwraps it, & after being warned not to read the book, by writings in the book from someone other than the author, starts to read a passage out loud. Then of course we all know what's going to happen. Bingo! At least in the original, we get five college kids just looking for a party, not taking anything seriously. It's a lot easier to swallow why this group of kids would turn on the tape recorder listening to the incantations recorded on it, for s***s & giggles, as opposed to the group in the remake.

Now the stake through the old Necronomicon! As fantastic & improved as the make up & special effect are over the original, the film lack copious amounts of atmospheric dread. Maybe this is to be expected, after all, it's a remake, right? Well, this film is not a scene by scene remake, it's quite it's own animal, but it could've of benefitted from keeping some of the things that made the original so terrifyingly eerie. One. They could of used the woods to a much greater effect. They practically ignored all what made the woods such a eerily forbidding place in the first film. The woods in the original were in a lot of ways, more terrifying than the cabin it's self! Two. The sound effects were no where as instrumental as the original in creating a dreadful atmosphere, such as the hugely menacing sound the unseen force made in the woods, chasing after people in the original. The swing scene in the original, when the group of college kids got there, & the cabin swing was swaying back & forth, making a bumping sound against the cabin as it hit it, then all of a sudden stopping. Now that made my neck hairs stand on end! No such thing in the remake, & maybe most of all, the spine chilling constant wind, blowing eerily through the cabin! Three. The soundtrack was way inferior to the original's, subduing the amount of tension & atmospheric dread from the first. The original's soundtrack accentuated every little bit of dread, drawing the viewer ever deeper into the film. Four. The first film created a surrealistic sense of insanity, with Ash questioning his own sanity, while sitting in the rocking chair. Ash putting his fingers on the mirror, only to find the mirror was as made of water, increasing the surrealism of the film. Things going bump in the cabin. Things going bump outside. Objects moving by their selves in the cabin. These are just a few things that made the original what it was, a truly groundbreaking horror film. No horror film is going to be thought of as a groundbreaking masterpiece, without atmospheric dread by the bloody buckets full. Something this remake unfortunately lacked. The film was just an excuse to go all out blood & guts, & it succeeded in this, but failed miserably when compared to the original's nail biting suspense, of what was going to happen next. The original keeping you glued to the screen & your hands squeezing the armrest, until they turned white. The remake was just to much overkill. With out the dread, suspense, & surrealism of the first, the relentless gore & violence becomes numbing.

Alright, even so I think this film paled against the original, on it's own terms, it did succeed fairly well. It's not near the remake that "Fright Night" & "Dawn of the Dead" were, but it is worth seeing, even buying in Blu-ray. For people who have not seen the original, you may think this is a great horror film. For us that seen the original at the time of it's release, the remake is a fun, yet obtuse, inferior rendering of the original. But when compared to the glut of mediocre horror films out there, both big & small budgeted, this is a pretty damn good watch. For you gorehound lovers out there!

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