Rambling Dispatches: “Evil Dead”

evil dead

Every Thursday, in Rambling Dispatches, resident malcontent Quinn McGee rants about whatever he damn well pleases.

We live in a time of sequels, prequels, remakes, rereleases and spinoffs which can be seen in almost any medium. It’s just how it is. In music, you have people taking heavily from music that already exists, and usually ruining it. (Then again, I’m biased. You don’t mess with my “You Spin Me Round.”) Then on television, we currently have two different Sherlock Holmes-based television shows. We’re going to get a new show about Hannibal Lecter, and Arrow exists. Cartoons are worse; there are so many spinoffs and remakes there, it’s hard to keep track. Whatever it takes to sell toys, I guess, because there’s seemingly no other purpose to childrens’ television shows.

What’s worst is the spinoffs. The one spinoff rumor that’s really getting me fired up is the Breaking Bad one. It’s one of the most perfect shows on television, an engaging drama that somehow has only gained steam over nearly five seasons. Just when it could end on a high note, we get word that there might be a spinoff about Saul Goodman, of all characters. Really, Saul Goodman, the dirty strip-mall lawyer? If you don’t believe me on this, do a little search and you’ll be just as pissed off as I am. It just goes to prove that not even the golden child, AMC, can escape the greed attached to a brand name.

Movies are just as guilty, if not worse, since when a big-money industry catches the scent of success on a name or product, they’ll use it until there’s no more money to be taken and the title basically falls into contempt. Think about how many sequels are coming out this summer. And if you’re having a hard time seeing what I’m talking about, think about the Resident Evil movie franchise. Now, I enjoy the series quite a lot, but I’ll be honest, it doesn’t really need to be around anymore. They’re taking a ride on the crazy train in a huge way, and seem to be an engine for Paul W.S. Anderson to put his super-hot wife in movies. Milla Jovovich is one of my favorite actresses because she’s such a badass, so you won’t see me complaining too much. But there seems to be no escaping the constant rehashing and stagnation of ideas. Is this necessarily a bad thing, though?

I ask because I just saw the new remake of Evil Dead. I’m a fan of the original in a major way; the horrible campy humor, the effects that were shocking at the time but don’t hold up well in today’s world, how it felt so homegrown. I’m a sucker for well-done horror that you know has the passion of an independent project. You can see the difference when you compare the original Paranormal Activity to any of the sequels. Horror movies these days tend to just phone it in and, in all honesty, suck quite a bit. So imagine my surprise when I really enjoyed Evil Dead. If you read my Dredd piece, you know that I often like when remakes are faithful to the original, but for some reason I really liked the changes made in the new film. They went with the no-campy humor approach, but decided to keep the ridiculous amounts of gore, scares and practical effects (with almost all of the effects being real and not CG), all the while keeping true to the original. Part of this is probably because Sam Raimi was involved as a producer/advisor, but if the studios wanted to ruin it, they totally could have.

It’s one of the reasons I’m so against remakes and sequels sometimes, but when one comes out that’s this good, it makes me start to question my resolve. This remake proved that you can throw a larger budget ($17 million) into a horror movie with a good script and make back all of the money, and then some, on the opening weekend alone. This showing, along with the remake of Carrie coming this fall, might just be what it takes to put the horror genre back on the map in a huge way. There are so many good horror writers out there making movies on shoestring budgets, or just not making them at all. I hope that the constant cycle of remakes and rehashing can spawn something good for once, but then again, Scary Movie 5 is coming out this week, so I guess I can’t be too optimistic.