Nato And Remy’s Last Stand: Why Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead Bitch-Slapped Horror

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Remy: With gasps and shudders and clenched fists curled up tight in the pockets of my hoody, the Evil Dead remake reminded me in one blinding flash why I adore the horror genre. It’s down right scary, unsettling, relentless, and brutal. It’s also engaging, interesting, incredibly well shot, and perfectly executed (I’ll take “poor word play” for 100, Alex). Alvarez’s film was a painstakingly crafted love letter to the original and fans of the original, and it also did something most people might have missed if they left early: it bridged the original series with the new series in an attempt to combine them both further down the road. How f*cking awesome is that? So now, for your reading pleasure, Matt and I will discuss some of the things that really stood out to us regarding this awesome reboot. Awesome and reboot are two words we never use next to each other, so you should be aware how big a moment this is for horror.

Nato: Wow, no mentions of phallic objects or being a masked murderer, I’m not really sure what to say now – except I agree with Remy 100% of the way. Evil Dead beat me senseless with scares, thrills, excitement, and gore, all the while giving an emphatic middle finger to the entire mainstream horror genre. Yeah, that’s about right.

With that said, join Remy and I as we dissect Fede Alvarez’s film and list a few of the many reasons why this remake/reboot may have just changed the current horror game.

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Remy: PRACTICAL EFFECTS

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HUZZAH, let us all rejoice for a moment over Evil Dead‘s jaw-dropping practical effects.

Make no mistakes about it, bad CGI has become the bane of horror. Animated blood splashing from animated creatures makes me feel like I am watching a rated R Pixar movie, but the Evil Dead remake was like “f**k that noise, we want all our effects to be practical.” Yes, you read that correctly. Outside of the “burning” scene at the start, and the “vine slug”, all the effects in this movie were done with fake blood and prosthetics. While that may not sound too impressive, to see the movie in action proves otherwise. It is visceral, realistic, and in your face. It even left me with a few moments where I was wondering how they did it – flabbergasted and amazed.

The face slicing scene, for example. How the hell was I seeing her teeth from inside her cheek? Sssh, don’t tell me, it was pure magic. But the practical effects alone took the movie from awesome to, in my opinion, the new horror benchmark all other horror films (and their effects) will be measured against.

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Remy: THE HATERS

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I need to say something about this because it has been bothering me. Any person who tells you Evil Dead is “torture porn” must not have any solid idea what the genre means. “Torture porn”, as whack as that term is, is based and steeped in reality. People bound or gagged and being tortured by another person.

Certain people hate films like that because they are vile and gross at times, but Evil Dead is NOT that. It is a group of people who slowly get possessed, one by one, by a demon, and that demon will do anything it can to kill anyone around it, including, and especially, the host. There is NO basis of reality here, and at no point is anyone being tortured. Just because people are slicing off their faces and getting nail guns to the eye does not make it torture porn. It is simply a very violent, gritty, grimy, visceral horror film. All they did was remove the campiness of the original, and now people call it torture porn. Wrong. Those are just people who are having trouble coping with the violence on screen, so they are name-calling at the film to take the emphasis off the fact that their tender minds could not handle it.

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Remy: JANE LEVY’S GAME CHANGING PERFORMANCE

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Jane Levy as Mia in this movie was about as perfect a casting choice I had ever seen, but if you’d seen her films before this, you would NOT have expected her performance (she was in Fun Size, and that is pretty much it) – but my GOD does she embrace the Mia character.

For those who don’t know, the rewrite casts her as a heroine addict, going up to the cabin (which is now in Weymouth, Ma, where I grew up and was tormented by demons, making this all even more perfect to me) and that idea of having her going through withdrawals is genius. When the madness starts, and she is warning everyone, they all think it is her trying to leave the intervention, so no one believes her. That scene, when she comes in from the woods and is trying to warn her brother, the look in her eyes of pure terror, was maybe the most palpable look and feeling of terror I had ever seen an actor portray, outside of Shelly Duvall in The Shining. But once she slips, all that innocence and nativity is gone, replaced with GENUINE EVIL. I won’t get into the kills, because I want Matt to have some cool shit to talk about, but man, from the french kiss to the (dare I say it), chainsaw, Evil Dead was just brutal cinema at its finest.

Extra Remy Thought:

All the nods Alvarez’s film makes to the original shows just how much love it has for Raimi’s Evil Dead and for the fans. When I saw Mia in the beginning, sitting on the old beater from the first film, still parked there, something big hit me. Holy shit, this is the same universe and same timeline. Which of course, leads to the big post-credit reveal, which I will leave to Matt to talk about.

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Nato: THE IMPLICATIONS OF GORY WIDE RELEASES

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For those with a weak stomach, just know you’ll probably have a hard time making it through Alvarez’s Evil Dead. It’s not just gory, it’s downright revolting and sadistically violent, dismembering cast members while forcing us to watch in all of the gory glory. If you think Ash cutting his hand off in Evil Dead II was tough to watch, there’s a 95% Elizabeth Blackmore’s character Natalie’s appendage removing scene that will make you vomit. Some of the gore was so gruesome and lifelike, people walked out of my showing to wait outside the theater for their friends – which only makes the practical effects mastery by Alvarez’s crew all the more epic.

But what does this mean for mainstream horror? Maybe studios will stop playing it so damn safe with their powder-puff PG-13 snoozefests and give horror fans what they really want – buckets and buckets of gore. Gross us out! It’s a challenge we love facing! By stealing 1st place at the box office its opening weekend with a $26 million dollar gross (already making the film profitable), Alvarez proved audiences will still turn out for a blood-soaked masterpiece even if it makes them squirm with distaste.

Don’t get me wrong, gore still needs to be supplemented by proper storytelling and everything else that makes a good horror movie, but hell, maybe now studios will nut up and start taking risks again – it’s about damn time.

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Nato: A HORROR REMAKE THAT DOESN’T SUCK?!

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OK, based on newer knowledge we know Alvarez’s Evil Dead is actually a reboot leading to a franchise of its own, but still, he did something so many directors have failed to do by rehashing already successful source material beloved by hoards of fans, and still creating a kick-ass movie that lives up to the original hype. I mean, we all know the cult following behind Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise, probably one of the most cult-worshiped horror franchises in history, and we know how remakes have been disgracing the horror films of yesteryear we all know and love – so history and trends were not on Fede’s side.

But f*ck history and f*ck trends, because Alvarez confidently attacked one of the most iconic cult horror franchises and spun his own take on “cabin in the woods” type horror to create a film that not only lives up to current horror expectations, but standards set by Raimi himself. The atmosphere, tension, ridiculousness, horror – Fede grabs so much inspiration from Raimi, yet absolutely gives Evil Dead his own unique touch. He defied the odds by taking risks, learning lessons from Raimi’s original material on what works and what doesn’t work, absolutely owning classic material some deemed sacrilegious to alter.

I stand by a claim in my review of Alvarez’s Evil Dead which states the following: “Alvarez made the film Sam Raimi intended to make, only Fede was given the appropriate budget.”

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Nato: THE FUTURE OF THE EVIL DEAD FRANCHISE

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So from the practical effects work, to Jane Levy’s performance, to a domination of mainstream horror, to handily rebooting “untouchable” material thought to be sacred, Fede Alvarez has accomplished the unthinkable. But do you know what the best part is? It all gets to happen again – and hopefully not just once.

By now you all know the plans, right? Nothing is confirmed, but it might as well be with the post credits scene I’m sure you all stuck around for (right?!). Anyway, if you don’t know, here’s the deal – the plan from here on out is for Fede Alvarez to create a sequel for his installment of the Evil Dead franchise still focusing on Mia, for Sam Raimi to create an Army of Darkness 2 which reboots Bruce Campbell’s original character Ash, and then for a third film to come out which joins Alvarez’s world with Raimi’s. Ash is back baby, and he’s ready for some action. Holy shitballs, right?

We have to acknowledge the fact that none of this (hopeful) news would even have been released if Alvarez’s film bombed though. If Evil Dead tanked critically and financially, there would be no plans for dual sequels and a final joint effort – the franchise would be dead. Instead, Alvarez single-handedly resurrected the franchise not only for himself, but for the original creator as well. All those people hating the fact that an Evil Dead film was being helmed by anyone but Sam Raimi are no doubt biting their tongues, because not only did it rock the world of horror, but it inspired Raimi himself to jump back into the game. Only a few months ago we were nervous to even see how Evil Dead would turn out, but now we’re looking at the possibility of three more franchise films.

Fede Alvarez, I could kiss you, you magnificent son of a bitch, you.

So what does everyone else think about Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead? Are you on the same page as Remy and I? Let us know in the comments!

*A special thanks to Remy for stepping in to guest write! Feel free to follow either of us on Twitter for even more insanity and updates:

Matt Donato

Remy Carreiro

Like what you read? Check out last week’s article where Remy and I talk about the most cringe-worthy horror deaths!

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  • Devon Huerta

    Shelley Duval was in The Shining….Shelly Long was in Cheers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Donato/556930521 Matt Donato

      An equally horrifying endeavor. I see how Remy could have let that slip, it’s fixed now. Side note: Imagine if they did a hybrid of The Shining and Cheers where they’re all stuck in the bar?