Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Franchises: The Evil Dead. The Evil Dead (1981)
Again, I don't know exactly what it is that keeps me from enjoying this film but I can theorize. One of the big factors I can definitely point to, though, is that I was not in a good headspace when I first sat down and watched it. I was going through a very rough period in my life then and was so distracted and miserable when I tried to watch the movie that it did not take at all. As a result, the movie has been a bit tainted for me because it always reminds me of that really rough patch of my life. Another, more to the point, factor is how, because I had seen so many other low budget horror films made around that time by the time I got to this one, it didn't come across as anything that special. Yeah, it had impressive, nasty gore and some innovative camerawork and editing, but nothing else. It was just another movie about a bunch of dumb kids (and I stand by that assessment) getting butchered in the woods and, in my humble opinion, movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Friday the 13th movies had done that same thing in a more effective and entertaining way. And finally, and this goes back to the bad headspace I was in when I first saw it, there are a number of things about the movie that either confuse and cause me to become overly nitpicky or just downright annoy me. It's a shame, I know, and I'm not happy about it, but that's just the way it is and, no matter how hard I try, I can't really get past those issues. I'll go into more detail throughout the review but the short version is that there are many, many other low-budget horror movies made around that time that I get much more entertainment out of than The Evil Dead.
Alright, even though I've been giving the film a lot of kudos at this point, I'm afraid we're going to end this review with some other, major complaints that I have which, combined with those I mentioned earlier, keep me from absolutely loving the film like so many others. One of them is something that I've touched on already, which is how some sequences feel very, very drawn out. I've already mentioned how excruciatingly long Shelly's death scene is, with her biting her hand and getting stabbed in the back with the dagger, and her wailing all the while before she's finally dismembered, but there are other scenes that go on just as long for me, like some of the really bad dialogue sequences (for instance, that moment where they're about to have dinner and Ash is trying to remember a toast a Greek friend of his once said), the attack scenes with the demons, particularly when Scotty is creeping around, looking for the possessed Shelly, and the bits with Linda and that song she sings, and, the scene that irritates me the most, the drawn-out sequence of Ash strapping Linda to the cutting block in the tool shed and preparing to cut her up, which ultimately leads to nothing. Yes, I know praised the editing in that scene and mentioned how sick the notion of it is but that only lasts so long for me, as do the rest of the props I have for the film, before I start to get antsy and wish that Raimi would move along, which he didn't in that case. It's weird. Even though the film is only 85 minutes long, I often find myself getting impatient and, dare I say, bored with it, to the point where, by the end, I've had more than enough.
Given the low budget, I was expecting Raimi to do what George Romero did with his early films and use a lot of library music for the score but, to my surprise, the film has an original score. But, that said, the score by Joe LoDuca, who has worked with Raimi and Bruce Campbell a number of times over the years, is another aspect of the film that doesn't do much for me. There are some memorable themes here and there, like the soft, ominous piece when they first arrive at the cabin and when Scotty unlocks the front, the church-organ-sounding piece when the hatch to the cellar suddenly flies open, the skittering, string piece during one of the first demon attacks, and, probably the best part of it, that Dixieland tune that starts playing in the cellar and is also heard during the ending credits, only to become gradually distant and echoing before fading to the sounds of flies buzzing (a nice, eerie touch, I might add), but for the most part, I don't remember much of the score. (In fact, there are some that I can't specifically think of now but I do remember them kind of getting on my nerves.)