After several years of work, Hail to the Deadites, a documentary about the Evil Dead fandom, is finally complete and will premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival next month.
Although Evil Dead is now a cult classic in the horror community, it was made by a bunch of friends with little idea of what they were doing, on a shoestring budget and with many improvised camera rigs and unconventional effects techniques. It’s precisely this DIY charm that first made the film such a success among its target audience of drive-ins and grindhouse theatres, while the loyalty and enthusiasm of the fanbase was largely what allowed the franchise to continue and not just fall into obscurity like countless low-budget gorefests that came before and after it, and it’s these people that the documentary looks to celebrate.
Unusually, it will not feature any clips from the Evil Dead movies themselves, but is instead cut together from a series of interviews with fans of the franchise and those involved in making it both in front of and behind the camera, and footage from events and conventions where the films are celebrated.
Of course, like all film festivals still going ahead this year, Fantasia will be a virtual experience. While simply being able to access a festival’s offerings at home is no substitute for the energy and sense of camaraderie that comes from being there in person, especially genre festivals, when the alternative is to put people in unnecessary danger in a large-scale gathering, it’s definitely the right choice.
There will sadly be no more Evil Dead as we knew it though, with the cancellation of Ash vs. Evil Dead and Bruce Campbell retiring from the role of the clueless hero, but when something like Hail to the Deadites comes along, it truly reminds you of the extent of the passion of fans that allowed us to get to this point in the first place.