Coast-bound Evil re­make fright­en­ingly good.......

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS - – CHRIS TOM­LIN­SON

PLANS to re­make the 1981 cult hor­ror film The Evil Dead brought ini­tial scep­ti­cism, but with the orig­i­nal film­mak­ers be­hind the scenes, and a fresh-faced di­rec­tor and cast to in­ject youth­ful en­thu­si­asm, crowds at the South by South­west fes­ti­val have wel­comed the re­boot with open arms.

Sam Raimi, who di­rected the orig­i­nal, and Bruce Camp­bell, who starred in it, pro­duced the new Evil Dead. Fede Al­varez (pic­tured), a Uruguayan di­rect­ing his first fea­ture-length film, over­saw a small cast in­clud­ing Jane Levy, Shiloh Fer­nan­dez, Jes­sica Lu­cas, Lou Tay­lor Pucci and Elizabeth Black­more.

The film reimag­ines the plot of the first Evil Dead but re­places the orig­i­nal five col­lege stu­dents on va­ca­tion with five high school friends re­unit­ing to help one of them kick a drug ad­dic­tion. When they find the Book of the Dead in their cabin, a de­mon emerges to pos­sess the stu­dents one by one un­til only one re­mains.

Gone is the iconic hero Ash, played by Camp­bell, with Al­varez tak­ing a more en­sem­ble ap­proach that gives Levy and Fer­nan­dez equal time.

The mix of fire-hose blood spray, psy­cho­log­i­cal ter­ror and black hu­mour, though, re­main true to the campy orig­i­nal that boiled the hor­ror movie genre down to its essence.

Robert Tapert, who pro­duced the orig­i­nal and the re­make, said Evil Dead was in­tended for drive-in movies and crowded the­atres, but most fans only dis­cov­ered it on VHS or DVD years later.

‘‘You need to see this with other peo­ple, where you can yell and scream. There needs to be a party at­mos­phere,’’ he says, ex­plain­ing his de­sire to up­date it.

Fes­ti­val-go­ers at South by South­west played right along, cheer­ing, scream­ing and laugh­ing in all of the right places.

Al­varez says Camp­bell re­cruited him to take on the project af­ter years of ru­mours that he, Raimi and Tapert were plan­ning to re­make the low-bud­get, in­die mas­ter­piece that launched their ca­reers.

Al­varez in­sisted on mak­ing the film with­out com­puter gen­er­ated im­ages, in­stead tak­ing 70 nights to film it us­ing many of the old-school spe­cial ef­fects that Raimi used 30 years ago.

‘‘A good movie is about show­ing real stuff. If you see some­thing fake you wake up from the movie dream. The other rea­son was to make the movie time­less. To­day’s CGI looks great, but five years from now, you say, ‘God, what was I think­ing?’,’’ he says.

Levy, star of TV se­ries Subur­ga­tory, said be­ing cov­ered in pros­thet­ics and slimy flu­ids was ‘‘tor­ture’’.

‘‘It was a really long shoot and it felt like it went on for­ever,’’ she says.

Raimi screened his low-bud­get 1981 film at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val and even­tu­ally signed a distri­bu­tion deal, how­ever the ex­treme vi­o­lence and gore ini­tially earned the film an X rat­ing and it still car­ries an NC-17 (no chil­dren un­der 17) rat­ing by the The Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica.

He made two se­quels with Camp­bell play­ing Ash, The Evil Dead II and Army of Dark­ness. The film also spun off a video game, comic book and mu­si­cal.

Raimi later di­rected Hol­ly­wood block­busters in­clud­ing the first three Spi­der-Man films.

Evil Dead screens as the clos­ing night film at Gold Coast Film Fes­ti­val, which plays Birch, Car­roll and Coyle Pa­cific Fair from April 18-28.

Evil Dead.

Jane Levy in a scene from the new

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