OK, let me get this straight. Youíre some kind of internet nerd and yet you say you like Evil Dead? Are you sure?
Yeah, yeah. I think I went through the standard cycle. I saw the Evil Dead movies and thought they were good. Then I joined every other doofus in pretending that they were better than they really were and watched them a ridiculous number of times. But then the internet came out and, no longer forced to constantly re-watch VHS copies of the Simpsons and the same 40 or so movies, I moved on. They caught me just at the right time for this, because Iíd just been thinking, ďhey, you know which movies I should go back and rewatch?Ē
School of Hard Cocks? The Twink Whisperer?
And also, Evil Dead. You know what is weird though?
The stuff in your incognito window at this very moment?
Also, the way these movies have spread through our culture. I was there for the first part, when groups of white, male teenagers decided that Ash having a chainsaw for a hand was on par with the deep focus in Citizen Kane. Just at that level, people across the country, and even many lesser countries, deciding to join a tacit conspiracy to overrate those films: that is a pretty impressive phenomenon. It even lead to the non-Amazing Spiderman which then led to the Amazing one. But now itís spread to the point where some seventeen year old girl behind me was issuing general ghetto threats to nobody in particular about how the audio problems we were experiencing during the previews better be cleared up, because ďthis is Evil Dead!Ē
I mean, this zeal for the franchise rolled all the way from worn out VHS dubs in 1998 to the point where some random chicken head who was born in 1996 now has this nerdish pseudo-reverence for the shit. Itís been a long journey from Milan to Minsk.
Are you so out of touch that… youíre in touch?
No, itís the children who are right.
Speaking of the previews…
It was one long commercial for staying home, getting wasted and watching television. But another thing that was striking was how one in four Hollywood films are now versions of Funny Games. Whodda thunk?
One was called The Purge and itís about how all crimes are legal for 12 hours a year and this one wealthy family has to keep out baddies who wear Halloween masks. The baddies in the other movie wore animal masks. I think itís a subconscious expression of shame on the part of the filmmakers.
The Purge could have been great if they just went all Trauma with it and just turned The Brady Bunch into the crew from Predator for that one night. They could have given every family member some insane weapon to keep the hordes back from the gates. A machine gun nest for Peter. A flamethrower for Cindy. Alice cooking up and pouring the hot pitch. †Greg could have trapped one of the intruders in his bathroom and raped him. But the movie takes itself seriously and it looks about as good as if Toxic Avenger had taken itself seriously.
So did the movie live up to the original?
Sort of. You have to remember that the first Evil Dead film in particular doesn’t really live up to itself. Ash isnít really Ash yet and thereís not that much cornball stuff. This version follows that model. Itís a pretty good approach to the remake. They keep a lot of the important stuff, like camera zooming crazily through the woods. They put some new twists in, like now the reason the kids are in the woods is to help one of them detox from heroin. They use more technologically advanced effects and cool graphics in the opening. Thereís a little bit more about the Necronomicon, which the earlier films always left you with an appetite for.
But was it good? Stop equivocating!
I liked the general aesthetics of it. I liked the approach they took. I wanted to like the movie, but really itís just OK. The middle gets a bit boring, I think because thereís an emphasis on horror, gore and suffering rather than violence.
See, I realized that even when Raimi is trying to be scary, he has slapstick instincts, rather than pure horror instincts and that is a source of his appeal. Even when heís being mostly serious, the emphasis is on the act. A severing of limbs, a shotgun blast. This movie has some of that. They bring back the tree rape, sort of, and one of the characters uses an electric meat carver to saw off her possessed arm. Those parts are good. But then there are other scenes where people are just being battered and sliced for minutes at a time and the emphasis is really on their fear and suffering.
If you use the phrase Ďtorture porn,í I will cut off your lips with a paper cutter and take a cheese grater to your…
Relax. Iím not making that stupid argument. Itís just that this is where the tone of the film went wrong and it became kind of boring. Blah blah blah, some guy got shot with a nail gun. Iím completely desensitized to violence and my humanity is in jeopardy, blah, blah, blah. I know the nail gun scene sounds like it should fit under the heading of slapstickish violence, but most of the scene is about people writhing around and pulling the nails out of their bodies.
Go ahead, you pathetic fanboy. Let it all out. Then you can watch one of those movies where Kevin Smith talks to a bunch of college kids and it will be all better.
How dare you? But…
Another thing that’s inconsistent is the dialogue. Again, the original first Evil Dead movie isnít particularly zany or anything, but even so, this one could have used a bit more of the kind of willfully cliched dialogue from the franchise and a bit less dialogue that was just boring or bad. My ears perked up when one of the new characters said, ďthis time, the only way is the hard way.Ē Itís not really a joke but itís just sort of how theyíre supposed to talk in Evil Dead world. Itís snappy. 95% of the time we just get listless talking that could be from any mediocre horror movie.
The review on the poster said, ďSee it with a crowd!Ē
I wouldnít. I think that war is just lost. Within a few years, civilized people are going to stop seeing mainstream movies in theaters completely and the theaters are just going to capitulate. They will sell ringtones meant specifically to use when the movie is playing. Patrons will wear special suits designed for movie going and made entirely of cellophane. Theyíll just sit there consuming sour patch kids and synthetic popcorn butter using a meat grinder and a funnel while the speakers make really bassy noises at them. People like us have no place in such a world.
Well, it doesnít sound like the movie is so bad to me.
You know, I half expected them to really drop the ball or do something stupid like say the Necronomicon originates from aliens.
Yeah, well there is one more thing.
Jesus. OK, letís have your final, nitpicking, trivial objection.
They kind of… made Ash a girl.
The guy who you think is going to be Ash Titanics himself to save this chick, and then she winds up wielding the chainsaw and issuing some one liners with WNBA level delivery.
Holy shit… Iím having a stroke.
Yeah, it was pretty disappointing. You know, most women I know wouldnít even want a chainsaw hand. Wasnít Diablo Cody rumored to be involved? Maybe thatís the source of all this. The Titanic, ďas a man I shall sacrifice myself to you, you precious woman, and confirm your tremendous inherent valueĒ scene was bad enough. I mean, in Titanic, OK fine, but not in…
You don undrsmn I actly haing a stroke.
Should I call 911?
Never mind that, this is the girlfriend of whoever you are supposed to be talking to. Heís going to be fine.
But, heís having a stroke.
Yeah, heíll be OK. Were you saying something bad about Titanic?
Well, not really. Itís just that both movies have scenes where the guy is like, ďWelp, Iím just going to kill myself because youíre inherent value is greater than mine.Ē Thatís OK for Titanic, but…
Thatís not true. Those men sacrificed themselves out of love!
Um, OK, whatever you say sweetheart.
Donít condescend to me. I went to Vassar.
OK, whatever you say, Einstein.
Alright fine. Hereís the deal. Ash is so appealing as a character because of 1) Bruce Campbellís performance. Thatís something that canít really be duplicated. It was just the perfect actor for the perfect role. Robert De Niro, Stallone… any actor you can name would have been a worse Ash. So thereís really nothing they can do about that in the remake.
And 2) Ash is appealing because he is this perfect representation of masculinity. So having Ash be a womyn is like remaking Some Like It Hot and having Jack Black play the Marilyn part.
I donít see why a 20 year old girl canít be the perfect representation of masculinity. We did a production in theater arts where Juliet was played by a male actor with Down Syndrome and…
Youíll see when they make part 2. It will fall flat on itís face. Ash has to be really quick witted and funny, and…
Women can be funny. Iím funny.
Uh-huh. Do you have a funny story?
Omigod, yes! This story is so funny! Itís actually about that theater arts class. See, our professor was named Dr. Jacobs and he was amaaaazing. He went to Oxford, by the way. So I think he probably knows more about the the-A-ter than you do, so you should probably shut up about that. Anyway, I was walking to class one day. Even though I lived on campus, it was a pretty long walk, so sometimes I took my bike, but this time I didnít. Oh my god, those dorm rooms were so small. And the food was so gross! I mean, breakfast was pretty good.
What were you wearing?
I was kind of in a 60ís phase back them. So I liked to drape a lot of stuff. I had these super cute bell bottoms…
Right. OK, Iím just going to say that you are right on this point and apologize.
Also, sorry for condescending to you earlier.
So, I was saying. Ash is appealing because of his masculinity. Heís constantly having to make crude improvisations and snap decisions, like a quarterback on a busted play. One good scene in this version has him trying to figure out how to save his sister and heís sitting there with a shovel, an improvised defibrillator and the book of the dead trying to cobble together a solution. Thatís sort of the essence of the whole thing. Itís like being lost, hungry and broke near the end of your trip and sitting there with seven dollars, half a doughnut, a quarter tank of gas and a Thomas Guide. Those situations are what men are for. And thatís the core of Ash.
Well, why doesnít he use his GPS and ask some guy to buy food for him and put the gas on the credit card his dad gave him for emergencies?
I… have no response to that.
So you just think Ash canít be a woman because you think women are inferior.
No. Though I’m going to go way out on a limb and say women are inferior at fighting, which is the main thing Ash does. Ash also exemplifies masculine failings. He makes snap decisions even when he doesnít need to. Heís overconfident. His attitude is always, ďmeh, itíll work itself out and if not, Iíll figure something out.Ē You know, thereís good and bad sides to that.
So women arenít decisive?
Iím ordering lunch. Do you want some?
Sure. Well, maybe, I shouldn’t. †No, I guess so. Yes.†
They have herb roasted half chicken, and that comes with mashed potatoes. And they have Parmesan crusted flounder, which comes with pasta.
Do they have sushi?
No, you have to get one of those two things for the lunch special. And they donít even sell sushi.
Ask if they can make sushi.
They said no.
OK. I which has fewer carbs, potatoes or pasta?
I donít know.
OK. For your information, Iíve decided. I want the half chicken, but only white meat, but with no wings. And instead of making it herb roasted, can they make it Parmesan crusted, like the flounder? And I want the side to be half potatoes and half pasta, but I want to substitute the pasta half and have half of a side salad instead. And, do they have Diet Cherry Coke?
Sure. Why not?
Great.†So you were saying?
Well… yeah, Ash is all about taking whatís available to him and making quick decisions between very limited options. And improvising and using crude tools But heís also brash and reckless. And I think the mentality of this film is to just kind of be flattering to the female characters. Like you have the Titanic, ďyou are so precious and valuableĒ thing, so weíre keeping that traditional attitude. But then weíre also going to say, at the same time, a really feminine woman can just successfully step into the most masculine role whenever she feels like it. But, when they make the sequel, theyíre not going to be able to use that other side of Ash because they wonít want to portray her negatively. Theyíre not going to want to make this girl be a reckless, arrogant boob. Theyíll just have her go through the motions of being magically good at things men are usually good at, sheíll fumble some bad one liners that arenít appropriate to her character, she will have no failings, it will be boring and it will probably make money anyway because fanboy horniness will override everything and it will have some appeal to women, because they hate being condescended to so much.
So whatís the problem?
I donít know. I guess Iíd rather just have Evil Dead 4 with a middle aged Ash than some second rate Tomb Raider franchise. But, whatever. Iím getting older so maybe I just really want to complain about how things used to be better. But Evil Dead definitely used to be better.