Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Evil Dead Remake and the Giant Robots

Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead 2 (1987)

There had been talks of either a remake or a sequel of Evil Dead for years, and indeed it is one of the last few 80's horror classic not to have been remade, until now that is. As it has been confirmed, a sequel/remake is in the works, first to break the news was the long suffering main protaganist of the original trilogy, Bruce Campbell, who finally joined Twitter and discussed it with fans.

And now a director has been announced, which has put me in a state of cautious excitment. Original director Sam Raimi (Spiderman), will only produce, and the new film will be directed by Federico Alvarez. While checking him out in IMDB, I realised that this is the already legendary Uruguyan aspiring filmmaker who had made a name for himself with short movie Panic Attack not long ago.

Panic Attack (2009)

Allegedly made for $300 only, the short movie Panic Attack was low in narrative but sky high in technical expertise and ambition, and blew everybody away when it was uploaded on YouTube in 2009, looking like it had costed about a thousand times more. It simple story followed a giant robot invasion, that culminated in the massive destruction of a city.

I was actually wondering what had happened to him since. The short film coincided with the release of District 9 by another young director who had made his name with a promising short, Neil Blomkamp, before being given carte blanche to bring his vision to the big screen by producer Peter Jackson.

So it seemed that this was going to follow a similar routine, with an experienced director/producer taking under his wing a visionary and promising protege. I was actually expecting him to do a full length adaptation of Panic Attack. But then nothing happened. And it made me wonder whether he had been spat out by the Hollywood machine for whatever reason, like so many promising talents before him.

Evil Dead 2

In the odd chance that you have not seen horror classic Evil Dead and its awesome sequel, its basic premise was of a group of people stuck in an haunted cabin in the woods, cut off from the world, fending off evil forces. Not all that original, but what set it apart was the incredibly inventive direction despite the low budget, the visual gags, and the fast paced and cartoonish gore. Imagine an old Tex Avery cartoon, and then add evil spirits and a chainsaw. And blood, lots of it.

And then of course, the trilogy owes most of its appeal to its lead Bruce Campbell, whose fantastically demented performance, rubber face and intensity has given the films their enduring appeal. The threequel, Army of Darkness, was less successful, breaking from the mould and going for a more old fashioned fantasy/stop motion vibe.

It is a mixed blessing for the young director however. While Neil Longkemp was given free rein to develop his own original idea, Federico Alvarez is tackling head on the remake of an iconic classic, and with dire recent examples (Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th), he has a mighty task ahead of him. It is almost a catch 22 situation: stick to close to the original, and it will feel unnecessary. Venture too far off from what made it unique, and fans and purists will bawl. And whoever replaces Bruce Campbell will have some incredibly large shoes to fill.

A slight issue is that Evil Dead is fondly remembered for his lo-fi, old school special effects. And Panic Attack was a CGI fest, a type of special effects that should be kept well away from the Evil Dead franchise. All we know for now is that the budget will be kept suitably low, which is a good sign.

UPDATE: I have just read that Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer's Body) is writing the script! What a fabulously unusual combination of talents! What to expect from her, wise crack demons with killer lines and buzz words? I can just imagine it: "RT: @RapingTree I'm going to google +1 your soul to hell!"

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