It seems like enemy #1 in the horror community of late is the upcoming remake of The Evil Dead, one of the most beloved horror films in the history of splatter cinema. The genre hasn't been the same since Raimi, Campbell & Co. took to the woods with a camera, very little money and a whole lot of Karo syrup at their disposal, and you'd be hard pressed to find a single horror fan on this planet who doesn't have a serious place in their heart for what they came out of those woods with.
Naturally, when it was announced last Summer that the film was next up on the remake chopping block, fans the world over were outraged. Their worst fears had come true. Soon after came two other pieces of news that really got fanboy blood boiling; Ash won't be in the remake (nor will The Chin himself) and the script will be receiving touch ups from Diablo Cody, the writer of the 'hipster' indie comedy Juno. Hate machine overload.
I've been reading the hatred that's been spewed over the last couple months about this one and I've kinda had enough, so I wanted to make a post that will surely put some of that hate on me. A post wherein I proclaim that not only am I not upset about The Evil Dead being remade, but also that I'm kinda excited for what's to come. Would I rather see Bruce slap on the ole chainsaw hand one more time and engage in one last final epic battle with the Deadite Army? Shit ya I would. But seeing as that's never gonna happen, I'll gladly take a reboot that both Sam Raimi and King Bruce are on board for. Sue me.
There seems to be this feeling amongst a large majority of horror fans that in order to truly love and support a film that we love and support, we have to absolutely 100% be against any remake of that film (unless of course it's called The Thing or The Fly), regardless of whether or not we've even seen it. A lot of fans hate on remakes without ever even seeing them and even if they do, they oftentimes go in with so much hatred that there's no possible way they could come out with anything less. Hollywood grabbing hold of our beloved classics and remaking them is seen as a crime worthy of punishment by death, and it seems that many fans feel like once a film is remade, the original they so love will no longer exist. Or will at the very least be tainted in some way. Come on guys, listen to how silly that sounds.
I think one of the big things that horror fans get go sensitive about when it comes to remakes is the idea that our little films are being introduced to the masses, thereby making them a little bit less 'ours'. When a movie like The Evil Dead gets remade, suddenly it's not just us hardcore horror fans that are watching the Book of the Dead being opened, it's anyone and everyone who has 10 bucks and nothing better to do on a Friday night. We kinda see ourselves as being on the fringes of cinema and I feel that we kinda like it that way. We generally don't like when 'our' movies become popular and widespread. We love the movies that we love and we love to embrace them as ours, our special little films that only us diehards really know about, and that sense that those films are suddenly becoming widespread is a bit upsetting, in the same way that the announcement of the weird geeky chick who reads comics with us at recess becoming prom queen is upsetting. I get that, I totally do. But again, listen to how silly that all sounds if ya really think about it.
No amount of remakes or reboots is ever going to in any way taint the films that we love, so I think we need to stop being so hard on them, and definitely stop judging them sight unseen. While I can't say I wouldn't prefer more original horror in theaters, the fact remains that some remakes in the past couple years have been pretty fuckin' awesome, reboots like Dawn of the Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre & The Hills Have Eyes. So all I ask is that we at least reserve judgement on any given remake until we've actually seen it for ourselves. It's not remakes we should be hating, it's horror movies that are crap, plain and simple. To hate on remakes and judge them separately from other horror films is quite frankly the same thing as writing off a whole race of human beings simply because you don't like a few of them. Let's not forget that their are plenty of godawful original horror movies too. All that matters is whether or not a movie is good or enjoyable to us; whether it's based off an original idea or not should really not even be an issue.
And remember, even if your favorite little gem of a horror movie does get remade, it has absolutely no effect on that movie or your memories of it and love for it. Sounds like a stupid thing to even have to type out, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen forum and blog posts where people complain that Hollywood is 'ruining their childhood' by remaking all the movies they loved as a kid. Stop being so dramatic, will ya?
So, my general thoughts on remakes established, let's talk a bit more specifically about this particular one, and the two things about it that have so many fans up in (chainsaw) arms.
1) NO BRUCE CAMPBELL & NO ASH WILLIAMS
Alright first off, when it comes to Bruce Campbell not being in this remake; if you're upset by that, then you just plain don't understand the concept of a 'remake'. So many people were FURIOUS over the fact that Robert Englund wasn't going to be playing Freddy in the Elm Street remake, an opinion I didn't share despite my hardcore love for both the original franchise and for Robert Englund, who has been and always will be the only Freddy Krueger. But if you're going to reboot the Elm Street franchise, then it's pretty much essential that somebody new play Freddy. We may not like it, and it may not turn out so great (which it most definitely did not), but to remake Elm Street with Englund still under the fedora and Christmas sweater would just be totally idiotic and pointless. While I'd love to see Bruce in a small cameo in the Evil Dead remake, perhaps working at an S-Mart that the new kids pass through before they make their way to the cabin, it's pretty much essential that he not be the star of this one. Sorry remake haters, but it's just the truth.
Now as for the character of Ash not being in this one either, I see that as a godsend and one hell of smart decision on the part of writer/director Fede Alvarez. To have that character in his vision of The Evil Dead would totally put the movie at a major disadvantage right off the bat, as everyone would inevitably compare the new Ash to the old Ash whether they wanted to or not. Given how much we all love Bruce Campbell's portrayal of Ash, I just don't think a new Ash would work for any of us, much the same way a new Freddy didn't either. That said, this one is a lose-lose situation either way, as most fans are going to be pissed if the character of Ash is in this one and if the character is not in it. When the film was first announced and no details were yet given, everyone was outraged over the fact that we'd be introduced to a new Ash, played by someone other than Bruce Campbell. Then once it was announced that Ash wouldn't be in the movie at all, instead replaced by a female, fans were again outraged, baffled as to how an Evil Dead movie could exist without an Ash. Damned if ya do, damned if ya don't on that one.
But again, in my personal opinion, remaking the movie without Ash is smart as hell, not to mention absolutely essential to the movie being any good or effective as a remake.
2) THE CHICK WHO WROTE JUNO IS WRITING THIS ... FUCK THAT HO!!!!!!!!111
The second most instantly hateable thing about this remake, for most fans, is the fact that former blogger/Juno scribe Diablo Cody was brought on board to work on the script. Though many have taken this to mean that Cody is writing the entire movie, she was in fact only brought on to help flesh out and tighten up Alvarez' already written script. Nevertheless, because Cody is mostly known for writing Juno, a movie that most horror fans hate with a passion, the assumption was immediately that this bastardization of The Evil Dead would play out something like this ...
Four pregnant, witty teens head out to a cabin in the woods for a bitchin' weekend getaway, rocking out to indie music and sipping juice boxes along the way. While there they receive a strange voicemail on their hamburger phone, an incantation that unleashes a horde of undead Michael Cera's.
As a fan of Juno, and of Cody's writing, I find this assumption particularly offensive. The style with which she wrote Juno was obviously a chosen style to tell that particular story, and to assume that that's the only way she can write is a bit silly. While it may seem like an odd choice to have the woman who wrote Juno working on the script for The Evil Dead, which it admittedly does, Cody herself is well aware that writing the latter in the same way she wrote the former would be totally fucking ridiculous. This quote from her should soothe some of your worries ...
"I wouldn’t have even gotten involved if Sam [Raimi] and Bruce Campbell hadn’t been involved as well. They’re producing it, and so of course I was like 'Alright I have to do this' because I’m such a fan of the original, and the whole original series in fact. But I was nervous to take the job because I thought 'Ugh, I’m gonna get shit for this.' People are not gonna like this, because all people know of me is like Juno and they think I’m gonna pollute Evil Dead with like wacky dialogue and cute stuff and folk music, and it’s like 'No, look I understand what this is.' I’m interested in storytelling here and making it scary and good and true to the original. I did not do like the standard dialogue people associate with me at all. I did very naturalistic dialogue that I felt would serve the story."
I'm not saying you have to like Cody's writing, but please be aware that this will not be Juno writing inserted into The Evil Dead, with demonic undead characters spouting cutesy Ellen Page dialogue. Cody is obviously a big time horror movie fan, so I don't think we have anything to worry about here. Again, reserve your judgments until you see the movie for yourself.
All that negativity aside, let's talk a bit about some of the things worth getting excited about when it comes to The Evil Dead being remade. For one, as previously mentioned, Sam Raimi & Bruce Campbell are behind this project all the way, producing it alongside original Evil Dead producer Rob Tapert. How much can ya really hate this thing when those three are all involved?
"The remake’s gonna kick ass — you have my word" - Bruce Campbell
Secondly, the movie is being directed by an incredibly talented dude by the name of Fede Alvarez, who came to the attention of Raimi after Sam saw a 5 minute short film he did called Panic Attack! (Ataque de Pánico!). If you're worried about whether or not this guy has got any writing/directing chops, check out the short below and curb some of that doubt.
And no, just cause that movie has robots in it doesn't mean his Evil Dead remake will have them too. Sheesh, tough crowd.
Soooo I guess the long winded point I'm trying to make here is that there's really nothing we've heard yet about this remake that should have us worried about it, nor should we be spewing hate its way before the thing even gets in front of the camera. Whether the movie does end up sucking or not is a whole different story and even if it is a complete and utter pile of trash, have no fear, it will not take away the original trilogy we all love so much. In fact, nothing EVER will. So just relax about that.
With Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell behind this thing, I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn't be standing alongside them, excited about returning back to that iconic cabin in the woods on April 12th of 2013. I understand that much of the hate directed towards this one is just misguided passion, passion for what Raimi and the gang did back in the 80's, but I personally can't bring myself to hate on any remake that is fully backed by the people who made the original film. That's a big deal, something that has not been the case for many of the worst horror remakes out there (here's looking at you, Elm Street), and we should all embrace that and direct our hate elsewhere. After all, there's a lot worse shit going on in the world than Evil Dead being remade ...