You can’t find an industry more creative than the movie industry; from the hundreds of people on set and the thousands involved in post-production, to the scores responsible for the amazing marketing and immersive digital and online experiences that we’ve all come to love - and share.
So I was truly excited to be asked to attend a sneak preview of the new Evil Dead movie and a Q&A with director Fede Alvarez this week (April 16th).
Production company Eleven Fifty Five made sure we were all in the spirit of the evening – they reconstructed the ‘Evil Shed’ and lured unsuspecting fans and film-makers in (myself included) to be filmed and photographed being attacked by zombies as we read from the book of the dead. On top of that we were all treated to creepy cupcakes and gruesome cocktails, including the Necronomicon and the ‘groovy’ Bruce Campbell.
But what about the movie – after all, that was the reason we rocked up to the Rizty Picturehouse in Brixton.
I guess the first question you ask yourself is, “How can they remake such a cult classic?”
Director Fede Alvarez was quick to point out, “We never set out to remake the original. This is a new Evil Dead movie.” And he’s right…for the most part. But with Bruce Campbell and Sam Rami “there all the time” on set it must have been hard to escape the familiar clutches of the cult classic films they made back in the eighties – and would you want to in all honesty?
Alvarez tells us, “They (Campbell and Rami) were involved from the beginning when I delivered my first draft and they would give us their ideas. And when the actors came in Bruce would say; ‘they’re good, they’re not so good, no way! They’re not ready yet’” And by that he was referring to the pressures of making such a gruesome film.
Leading lady Jane Levy, who plays tortured soul, Mia admitted, “I remember one day going to set – maybe about three quarters of the way through – and really seriously strategizing my runaway plan and how I was not going to finish this movie, because I did not want to.” But in the end she confessed, ”But I did it. If I was going to be a part of a horror film, then this was the one to do. Evil Dead is the horror of all horrors.”
Along with Rodo Sayagues, Alvarez penned a new screenplay and in doing so wrote out much of the slapstick that if you were honest, was probably the reason the early films never quite made the mainstream.
Gone too are the low budget FX. Surprisingly though it’s not all CGI. Alvarez proudly confesses, “We spent seventy days shooting. We used prosthetics and about 50,000 gallons of blood, so if you don’t like gore, leave the room now!”
It certainly is not for the squeamish. The Evil Dead cast and crew have certainly achieved something extra special by foregoing the CGI in favour of traditional VFX. The gore is incredibly realistic, more so than most animated horror sequences of recent years. The simple, dark, and frankly nasty imaginations of Alvarez, Sayagues, Rami and Campbell retain every ounce of the cult classic’s appeal and then by the spade-full pile on more.
Alvarez is full of praise of the support he received on set, “Bruce was a great help. They (Campbell and Rami) were very respectful of the process and realised the only way to make a good movie is to empower the director and give him the right to write the movie and make the film their way.”
And I’m pleased they did give Alvarez free reign – his vision is near perfect yet still fully accommodates the Bruce Campbell/Sam Rami touches that make Evil Dead a future cult classic. In fact, this movie could well mark the start of a new era in horror movie making, thanks to a formidable quartet that it will prove difficult to match - much less better. From set, cinematography and costume, to make-up and original score by Roque Baños (whom I hope we hear more of very soon), Evil Dead is a considered and well-constructed movie that will not let fans down.
Evil Dead is on general release from April 18th in the UK. So go see it! (If you've got the balls).
Preview event organised by: www.elevenfiftyfive.org
Watch the 18+ trailer (Sign in required)
Follow Bruce Campbell on Twitter: @GroovyBruce