Better Viewing Through Cosmic Cognizance By Fred E. Frederick
(a.k.a. Cosmic Charlie)
In my climactic installment of a weeklong litanious set of reviews of movies starring the colossus of clout (the colossus of clout!) Bruce Campbell, I have chosen to take it back to where it all began: The Evil Dead, the ultimate experience in grueling terror. Possibly the greatest depiction of some of the greatest clichès in horror and done with a budget that challenges Clerks for the greatest cheapest film ever made (naw, Little Shop Of Horrors still reigns supreme, god bless you, Roger Corman). It made Bruce Campbell a star (not really) gave Sam Raimi a career (sort of) and still stands among the most eccentric horror B-movies, having an almost Plan 9 From Outer Space vibe that leaves the average viewer feeling left out of the joke that they aren’t getting. Well fear not, huddled masses, I have come to safely explain the nuances of a film that I would gladly take a bullet for. Please make me take a bullet for it. Please?
I don’t want to insult anybody here, but if there’s someone out there who took The Evil Dead at face value and actually considers it “the ultimate experience in grueling terror” they should get their head checked. Right from the get go, this film has all the markings of a bunch of nerds got together and made a horror movie they’ve wanted to make since they were fifteen. The acting is atrocious right off the bat, and is practically at the edge of being self-aware. I mean, really, the Brad in this movie is more pathetically played than Brad from Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Barry Bostwick was doing that shit on purpose. Maybe it’s out of place for me to voice a personal opinion here (everything I write is scientifically derived from a movie review formula given to me by Chinese magicians who stole it from the ancient temple of Cinema Obscura) but I’m very disappointed that this film didn’t get a midnight movie party madness with yelling at the screen and throwing toast when Bruce makes his horrible toast. It fit so perfectly. I really wish that had happened, but then again there’s no musical numbers, so no dancing in the aisles.
Does the film have any faults? Well how do you judge faults in a film full of fractures of a funny fancy? I mean, the piece of the bridge falling off that was obviously not part of the bridge, the moon with it’s square outline, the “an animal? hahaha…” line, it’s all ungodly bad, but in just the right way. There are some bad BAD films out there folks, that do not entertain in any way and leave you feeling like you just watched nothing happen, which is kinda scary in itself, but still not enjoyable to watch. I think most films are afraid of seeming silly, so instead they pack in boring dialogue and try for realism by having nothing interesting happen.
Evil Dead’s success is spawned from the inches it stands away from being a cartoon. The idea of being just under over-the-top is nowhere to be found, as Deadites screech and scream and makes noises that would make Marilyn Manson blush. The makeup is amazing, and is one of the few elements in the film that isn’t cheap and humorous, but actually kinda terrifying and very uncomfortable looking. The film actually does turn into a cartoon at the end with some Dynamation the likes of which no Ray Harryhausen film has ever seen. In fact, the end of this film really does turn into something that I’m pretty sure had never really been seen before. It’s like they took the director from an Adam West Batman episode and then had an actor who had actually been tortured and abused, with burns and blood from Ted Raimi’s hand coming out of the floorboards and gashing Bruce’s face (look ma, real blood!). The looks on Bruce’s face and the noises and shadows that surround him virtually immerse you in the surreal realm of a demon’s dollhouse. That’s really the best way to describe the kind of shenanigans that occur throughout the film, imagine you’re a demonic otherworldly creature whose presence is yanked into our dimension but is stuck in the vicinity of this terrible cabin in the middle of the woods, and now, here come some stupid teenagers to stay in the cabin for a weekend of sex, alcohol, and ignoring one’s sister, what would you do?
It’s not the relentless insanity of the second film, or the action-adventure nature of Army of Darkness. The Evil Dead is a pure horror movie whose reputation is only surpassed by the glory of it’s viewing. Really, I don’t think you can over-hype this movie as the ultimate B-horror film. It’s so much more entertaining than Plan 9, and plus, it’s in color!