You may recall that I’ve reviewed the 2013 re-imagining of “The Evil Dead” once before. In that review, I mentioned how I had not seen the original despite having it sit on my shelf for many months still encased in cellophane. Seeing as it is the week of Halloween, what better time than now to take a look at what many consider to be a horror classic, as well as the catalyst for the careers of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell.
This may not be so much a Monster Clash as it is an updated review of the re-imagining by Fede Alvarez.
Round 1: Atmosphere
I may get a steam-liner-sized amount of flak for saying this, but “The Evil Dead” has not aged particularly well and wears its cheapness on its sleeve. With what it has, it does an okay job setting an eerie atmosphere, but the effects of the film are on the other side of laughably bad.
Couple that with out of focus shots, weird compositions and effects ranging from decently creative to just nonsensical, and you have yourself a “B picture.” There is a passion to the project, but there is also an amateurish feel to the whole thing as well. That may be why so many film students latch on to it, considering where the people involved ended up.
In the case of the re-imagining, it greatly benefited from the advances in special effects that have come about since 1981. There is a genuinely creepy vibe to the whole film. Another key difference is the overall lack of color in the set dressing, which does a great deal in setting up the age and desolation of the locale, something the older version tried to accomplish to some degree but couldn’t due to the various limitations.
While it’s not entirely fair to compare a small-budget indie film to a million dollar studio production, if I were one were to look at the two films, it’s almost no contest which is the better film: the 2013 re-imagining.
Winner: 2013 Version
Round 2: Story
What some people may not realize is that much of what we associate with the “Evil Dead” franchise is the cheesy effects, corny one-liners and the overall coolness of Ashley Williams, who didn’t actually debut in “The Evil Dead,” but rather in its sequels “Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness.”
Here, the story is your typical set: a group of friends deciding to spend their vacation in an old cabin in the middle of the forest, and inadvertently unleashing the forces of darkness after playing a mysterious recording left by the previous tenant of cabin.
In this film, Ash is more of a wimpy, meek everyman who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and barely makes it to the end of the movie before being supposedly killed off just before the end credits.
It’s pretty “bare bones” in its execution as we get mild character development in the beginning, with most of the film being scares, chills and kills. As such, it retains a very “drive-in” quality about itself.
In the case of the 2013 version, the story is a lot more fleshed out. We spend a little more time with the characters, learning about their back-story and motivations. It takes the initial set-up and gives it a great deal more depth. Yes, the gore and scary moments are there, but they come with a little more bite now that we know who the characters are.
On top of that, I find that having the characters actually read from the book a much more believable way to awaken the evil demons as opposed to having a recording do the work.
The only problem the new version has is the same thing that bothered me when I saw it the first time: the final 15 minutes of the film are devoted entirely to fan service. While I’ve got nothing against fan service itself, it bothers me when films will damage their own story in order to accomplish it.
If it ended with the character of David dying in the burning cabin with Mia escaping or even having it begin to rain blood without the whole fight scene with the abomination, it would’ve been a much stronger film.
If they really wanted to have the abomination, then David, not Mia, should’ve been the one to fight it, as he was the character we were following throughout the film.
Between the two stories, while I did have problems with the remake, I got more out of it as a whole because I was invested in the characters. With the original, I didn’t really feel that; it was more or less a film that’s seen only for the effects, as Ash himself isn’t really relatable and is instead more of a cliché in the negative sense that he would be in later films.
Winner: 2013 version
For the sake of brevity, I will not hold a Round 3, as I couldn’t really find anything to discuss about the two films that I haven’t already discussed in the previous two rounds. Given that the 2013 version won the first two rounds, there’s no real point of having a third without creating one out of pity like I did for “Fright Night.”
It’s clear that the 2013 re-imagining took the original concept and gave it a really good facelift. If they had trimmed down the fan service, then the film would have been stronger as a whole. The horse is dead. It’s time to stop beating it. This final clash ends in favor of the 2013 version of “Evil Dead” by technical knockout.
1981 version: 0
2013 version: 2
Winner: 2013 version
I hope you have enjoyed the string of battles in this year’s Monster Clash. If your plans this Thursday include a horror movie marathon, then I hope this series has helped you decide which films to watch. There are many horror films out there: some good, some bad and some that are bad and yet get praised by audiences despite having the writing and gore effects of a poorly-made student film.
Here’s to a Happy Halloween, dear readers. May it be filled with frightful fun and merriment. Just be sure to not get too carried away, as vomit is not a pleasant thing to have to clean off one’s front porch.