Movies & TV / Columns

A Bloody Good Time 8.16.12: Why I Think An Evil Dead Remake Is A Bad Idea

August 16, 2012 | Posted by Joseph Lee


Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.

Last week I counted down my top ten favorite Universal horror films. Let’s see what you had to say in response.

King Boo asked: I love the older horror movies and was wondering which Hammer Dracula films to either watch or skip.

Yeah, someone already answered this in the comments (thanks, Guest#3070!), but Horror of Dracula is definitely where you want to start. The rest can be hit or miss, but I would definitely say you should avoid The Brides of Dracula if you only want Lee as Dracula and avoid The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires completely because it’s pretty bad.

cdunch83 replied: Just bought Creature from the Black Lagoon yesterday! Can’t wait to watch it! Evil Dead remake is a bad idea, but at least the characters are different. I’ll be open-minded about it, but I doubt it will be a great remake like the Crazies or Hills Have Eyes.

I really want to be open-minded about this but I just can’t. I’m even open-minded about Robocop and that is definitely in my top five movies ever. As for Crazies and Hills Have Eyes, I thought the latter was definitely better than the original, and the former came close.

Buff said : Nice list, maybe one day you could do a column on the great german horrors of the day, Vampyr, Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, Nosferatu, M, Der Golem, Faust to name but a few :)

If you guys promise to read it, I’ll write it. I don’t foresee it getting a lot of hits but I do love that period, especially Nosferatu.

Guest#7482 complained: I came in here thinking “Frankenstein should be on the list, but not #1. I bet it gets #1 due to it’s continuous overrating” sure enough…thanks for being wrong in a way I guessed you would!

I wasn’t aware my opinions were wrong, but thanks for the correction. I just rate what I like. I thought that was the point of these lists. Silly me.

WV4Life added: Cool list… my only complaint would be that when you’re talking about the Universal library there are so many iconic characters that a list like this pretty much writes itself (the only real surprise was “The Black Cat”). How about a list of “Most Underrated” Universal movies so that we can see which of the less iconic titles are worth checking out?

I can definitely do that at some point. Probably in November, since I’ve booked my schedule solid until then.

This week I’m going to explain to you why I think the upcoming remake of The Evil Dead is a bad idea. Now keep in mind these are just my own personal thoughts and I’m probably going to see it anyway, depending on a trailer. A horror movie has to look abysmal in order for me to not watch it and even then I get suckered in to some of them. For example, The Devil Inside remains the worst movie that I’ve spent money to see.

I’m not against remakes in general. I used to be against anything that was a new take on something but I’ve mellowed out and come to accept that a) they’re going to happen whether I want them to or not and b) sometimes they can actually be good, if not better than the original. I’m actually looking forward to the Robocop remake because it looks to be trying something completely different (if I wanted the 1987 original, I can watch it whenever I want) while appearing to keep the tone of the original intact (pure satire).

But Evil Dead? Even with Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell producing, I don’t have high hopes. I wasn’t against it from the moment it was announced, but as more and more tidbits came in I remembered why I sometimes hate the Hollywood machine and their need to update everything for a modern audience.

So I’ve come up with eight reasons why I think the Evil Dead remake is probably a bad idea, and why I think it won’t work. But before all of that negativity, let’s have some laughter.

Evil Dead is a product of its time.

It really is. The Evil Dead series began in the 1980s when the slasher/splatter craze was at its peak and many studios and indie filmmakers were putting out as many horror titles as they could to capitalize on the popularity of the big three (Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street). Low-budget horror could be just as successful as big budget films because they could rapidly gain a cult following through word of mouth and become a big hit on video, or possibly with a late theatrical run.

This is why lesser-known horror films like Sleepaway Camp, The Slumber Party Massacre and Night of the Demons were able to get sequels even with very little success. This is why Full Moon practically dominated the home video market later on in the 90s. Evil Dead arrived with barely any budget, a cast of unknowns and a relatively unproven director to develop a huge following, gathering praise from fans, critics and horror aficionados everywhere.

Even if the remake is really good, it’s not going to have the same feel that the original series did and will feel very much like a product of this time. Much like the Total Recall remake, it will probably get an occasional nod to the original, get the story beat by beat but completely remove the heart and quickly be forgotten. Which says to me…

It’s probably going to miss the point entirely.

Yes, I’m well aware that the original Evil Dead films was an attempt to be scary. I’ve also heard Raimi say in interviews he wanted to make it more like Evil Dead 2. Even with the attempts at horror it’s absolutely nuts and there are a lot of moments of dark humor. I’m sorry, but tree rape is just as darkly hilarious as it is disturbing just for how over-the-top it is. Evil Dead 2 was just more on the nose with its humor and didn’t really care about the scares. Even if you don’t notice the humor in the first, there is a sense of fun with it that I think the remake will be lacking.

Everything I’ve read about this remake, from character descriptions to a script review tell me this thing is going to take itself very seriously. The reason this franchise is set apart from the rest of the demon possession/zombie flicks is for the exact opposite reason. It’s fun, it’s entertaining and even when it’s scary it’s so out there that you also have to laugh. The plot of the remake sends the characters out to the woods to deal with a life-threatening drug addiction, from what I gather. It’s not just a bunch of kids out to have fun, they have to have a really serious, dramatic reason.

Bruce Campbell doesn’t appear to be involved except as a producer.

I haven’t heard anything about Bruce Campbell having anything to do with this as a producer. I’ve heard some rumblings of a cameo, but they appear to be jokes from Campbell himself (don’t think he’s showing up as a milkman, kids). I can never, ever tell when Bruce is being serious so you can’t really take what he says to heart.

Now I’m not saying I want Ash to show up at the end and save the day (although that would be really damn cool, let’s be honest), but some acknowledgement of the previous material would be nice and it doesn’t appear we’re going to get that. I could be wrong, since I don’t have a lot to go from. If I were casting (and I wanted to leave Ash out), Bruce would play Dr. Raymond Knowby. But I also thought the Nightmare on Elm Street remake should have had Robert Englund as a dream doctor to nod to that film, and Hollywood doesn’t listen to me.

This is only a minor quibble, and one that could be rectified, but it’s still one of my complaints.

Sam Raimi is not directing.

I have no problem with Fede Alvarez. This is probably because I don’t have any idea who Fede Alvarez is. Having an untested director is not what my problem is. After all, Raimi just made short films before he put together the original, and Alvarez has more or less the same experience Raimi did right now. My problem is that for years, all Evil Dead fans wanted was another film directed by Sam Raimi. The closest we got was Drag Me To Hell, and that only made us want another Raimi-led Evil Dead even more.

Raimi’s producing, and that’s fine. Alvarez could provide some great direction. But I want to see the return of Raimi’s insane camera work that made the first series so memorable. Think of all new ways to get a camera shot instead of letting a computer do all the work. Torture your actors in the name of good fun. I have no problem with Fede Alvarez, but Sam Raimi not directing the latest Evil Dead after all these years is a huge disappointment.

The film will probably have a higher budget and look like a Hollywood movie.

This goes back to my “missing the point” deal above. Another thing that set these movies apart was the fact that they were low-budget, and a lot of the time they looked like it, but that only enhanced the movie instead of detracted from it. Claymation (what looked like it, anyway) and stop-motion animation are just part of the charm. The low budget forced the filmmakers to think of new ways to make things happen, and it made for a really gory, really awesome series.

The new film will look like a glossy, Hollywood horror film. It will more than likely look like every other horror film that isn’t found footage. I’m guessing the special effects will be CG, because all special effects are these days (when it’s been well established that CG costs more than practical blood and guts, and practical effects look better). My biggest complaint about this remake isn’t that they’re doing something different. I want something different, but I don’t want it to be so different that it belongs in a completely different franchise.

Diablo Cody is rewriting the screenplay.

Hollywood, we need to have a talk. While I’m an unpublished writer/budding screenwriter that has no idea how your business works, I still think I can write better than Diablo Cody. I’m sorry, I know exactly how that sounds, but it’s true. To this day, I have no idea how the weakest element of Juno (the script) won an Academy Award, especially when it was against scripts like Lars and the Real Girl and Michael Clayton. I cannot fathom how this woman is still working in Hollywood, let along a critically acclaimed screenwriter.

Have you actually listened to the dialogue in her films? No one talks like that. I have never met a man, woman or little kid trying to be cool that sounded like anyone in Diablo Cody’s films. Even if you ignore Juno and Young Adult (which I liked for Charlize Theron’s performance and only that), this is still the woman that wrote Jennifer’s Body, her only other attempt at horror (and it had a character called “Needy”. Get it? She’s a needy girl who needs the companionship of Jennifer! Oh that clever Diablo Cody).

I know there will be people that jump on here because I know Diablo Cody has her fans, and I welcome the flaming. But I could reach back into my DVD pile, not even looking at what I grab, and find something with a better script than Cody could write. AND I OWN JASON GOES TO HELL. ON PURPOSE. (I’m a completist.)

Basically what I’m saying is, keep this woman the hell away from my Evil Dead.

Cabin in the Woods beat this to the punch.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend I am not completely in love with Cabin in the Woods, because I am. I want to make sweet love to that movie and create little Joseph Lee-Cabin in the Woods babies. But my point here is that we just had a movie that took the whole “kids go to a remote location for shenanigans” plot and completely turned it on its head. I’m pretty sure this movie killed the entire idea dead in the water when it was over. I’m not saying you can’t do one of these movies and be successful, I’m saying that this took the idea of a possessed object releasing undead killers and completely ran that concept into the ground. It satirized the hell out of it, and now you want to make a film that comes along and plays it straight again?

It’s not as if Evil Dead was subject to unfortunate timing. Cabin in the Woods was in the can for at least a year, if not more, before MGM’s financial troubles put it on the shelf until April of this year. Evil Dead will be coming out almost a year to the day that Cabin came out, and it will play the concept that was just made fun of completely straight. Doesn’t make much sense to me, especially so soon when the “wounds” are still fresh.

There’s no way fans are going to accept this, no matter what you do.

This column is proof of that. I’m pretty dead set against this remake based on all I’ve heard and it’s going to take some really good trailers and word-of-mouth to get me to want to see this movie. I’ve looked around the internet to various fan reactions and the majority of them seem to think the same way I do. Ghost House Pictures is facing an extremely uphill battle and poor Bruce Campbell can talk up this movie all he wants, but fans are ready to hate it.

Sure, fans of any franchise are sure to hate any attempt at a remake, but Evil Dead is different for a lot of us. It’s a different kind of movie from a different time period that just can’t be replicated by a different group of people. Evil Dead fans wanted a fourth film. Most of us didn’t really care that Bruce was a lot older, and would have loved to see an older Ash. It’s easy to say that a lot of remakes are unnecessary or unwanted, but it’s never felt more true than it does with this one.

That’s it for me. What do you think about the Evil Dead remake? Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week, in a very special episode, the 411 staff gets together and reveals why exactly we love this crazy little genre of ours.


Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)

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Joseph Lee

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