Occultober – Day 21 – The Evil Dead

The Evil Dead
Bound in human flesh and inked in human blood, the iconic Necronomicon – The Book of the Dead – is the source of releasing some sort of demon from hell in the debut film from Sam Raimi in 1981.

Not as overtly occult as some of the others on this list, nevertheless, the original ‘cabin in the woods’ picture has become a sub-genre of sorts, spawned a few sequels and a soulless glossy remake, influenced horror culture and video games alike. A bunch of 20-somethings rent a remote cabin, read a a demonic text, and are picked off and possessed by the aggressive spirits in the woods that look a lot like a POV from a camera mounted on a dirt bike. Innovative camera work aside, do not underestimate the purity of The Evil Dead. It scratched an itch that needed to be scratched in the early 1980s coming off a rash of drive-in satanism horror films, and against all odds got a theatrical release that launched a pretty formidable career in hollywood, from Dark Man to Spider Man to A Simple Plan. And the lead actor with the memorable chin, Bruce Campbell, became a cult genre icon who has published several books and regularly tours the Comic-con circuit.

Goopy, goofy, and kind of groty, the film stands up pretty well today, barring the shockingly vulgar tree-rape in the middle. It’s always worth a look, even if the more overtly hilarious sequel, 1984’s Evil Dead II, is a wee bit more satisfying.

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Cinecast Episode 304 – Beware Movies That Are Named After Songs

A ‘Biggie Size’ episode of the Cinecast has Matt Gamble return to heap copious praise upon Mad Men and Game of Thrones. Never one to disappoint, he gets into fisticuffs with Kurt over the Evil Dead remake and ancient tomes made out of human skin. Andrew moderates like a champ and tries his utmost to keep the other two from fondling each others buttons in a delightful display of homoerotic movie-nerd posturing. Ahem. Before that business, there is a pleasant conversation on Derek Cianfrance’s A Place Beyond The Pines, as well as some home-theatre (and Blu Ray) discussion. It appears that Kurt will finally be joining movie fandom in the 21st century by going BLU. The Watchlist has a little Dwayne Johnson, a little Matt Damon, as well as the Activist Dude and “Food Insecurity” in America. We also talk a bit about the trailers for the Carrie remake as well as Elysium.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


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Full show notes and VIDEO version are under the seats…
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Review: Evil Dead

There is a moment in Fede Alvarez’s articleless remake of The Evil Dead that offers a hint of the condescension to come; an utter lack of faith in the audience or a confidence crisis in storytelling. After a thoroughly unnecessary prologue involving the exorcism of a dead-ite girl in the basement filled with more cat corpses and mutant hillbillies than Sleepwalkers and The Hills Have Eyes combined and our younger, prettier, twentysomethings come to the cabin in the woods to become, as they say, “spam in a cabin.” Fifteen minutes after an interminable stretch of graceless character building and (forgive me) soul sucking serio-tragic exposition, the characters find themselves down in the burned out foundation from the prologue, dead kitties still hanging from the charred joists. This is when the editing geniuses behind the film feel the need to flash back to the prologue to remind us that, you know, an ‘evil dead’ thing was going on in this creepy woodland cottage. This is immediately followed by the reveal of the Necronomicon, the evil book that releases demons into the world. Here it is not only fully annotated in large bloody english Cliff-Notes over the ancient text, but also, far more insultingly, the book has a handy-dandy series of pictures to explain things after each scene and to tell the audience what is going to happen next. If this is satire of the excesses of Raimi’s original trilogy (Dead By Dawn is itself a parody-laced remake-slash-continuation of sorts – if you don’t know, don’t ask) the he is of the most subtlest sort. (Hint: This is not the case.)

Alvarez and co-writers Rodo Sayagues, with script-polisher Diablo Cody, are utter slaves to burying references and Evil Easter Eggs from the original trilogy that things threaten to make this film more of a distracting dialogue with what came before, not to mention rather unsuccessful games of bait-and-switch in the screenplay. “The Classic” Delta 88 Oldsmobile, the charming rustbucket of a vehicle which takes on an increasing significance in the original films, shows up here not as an old clunker, but more a piece of impostor art object to be used as pretty object for our pretty actress to sit upon. I single out the remade car not as a miffed Raimi fanboy (of which I assure you, after a few too many Spiderman flicks and Disney Oz prequels, I am not) but rather that an ill executed homage such as this is indicative of the whole enterprise. But wait, there is more. At the other end of the pander-spectrum are things of such pathological minutiae that I am kind of embarrassed to know of their existence at all, such a necklace chain sculpted into the shape of skull (again don’t ask – it is not really that important.)

Excess is the name of the game in these films, and that is not a problem per se. What was the original if not the combination of the Friday 13th slasher mixed with the highlight reel of all The Exorcist pea-soup moments shaken and cooked into a high energy speedball of manic-camerawork. It worked as slapstick, it worked as a frightening hallucination. The remake is merely an engine for gore. Painful, quite realistic gore. A wet-dream for those who look for this type of thing, that somehow survived NC-17 censorship. Tree rape and limb-severings aplenty are done so with effects that slickly combine old-school practical and modern digital craft. So much time is spent getting rusty nails propelled into arms and faces that the filmmakers forgot to make it riveting (sorry) in any other way. If onscreen suffering floats your boat, and you’ve not tired of the Torture Porn cycle that I thought was well behind us at this point, then this is the horror film for you. Because Evil Dead is not scary, or even interesting.

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Trailer: Disney’s Oz – The Great and the Powerful

Disney Corp’s supersized Wizard of Oz prequel trailer just appeared and while it is tempting to compare it to the recent Tim Burton helmed Alice in Wonderland, the more apt comparison, I think is the Naria series. You could still see the Burton-isms all over his foray into Disney tentpole territory, however, I fail to see (at least from trailer below) how this is actually a Sam Raimi film. I must admit to a distinct lack of curiosity as to how a con-man conjurer tricks his way into being Oz the Great and the Powerful, that wasn’t adequate in its implication from the 1939 MGM version of the story. I hope there is something sinister or wonderful beyond the vanilla over-baked CGI surface here.

Friday One Sheet: The Minimalist Hobo (with a Shotgun)

 
 

Having seen Jason Eisener’s tribute to the Grindhouse, George Miller, Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson, I can say that a minimalist style poster is kind of weird and mis-representative of the circus-side-show nature of the film, but hey, it’s retro, modern and purdy all at the same time, ain’t it?

Speaking of retro/modern. There is an 8-Bit Hobo game available for your iPad/iPhone. I find this not only hilarious, but appropriate when you see how the film is actually shot/constructed/toned with a clear foot in each the retro-room (did you know the film is actually an early 1980s period piece?) and the modern digital cinematography (a la the Red.)

Lastly, in the spirit of Jason Eisener and Rob Cottereill’s original meal ticket on Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s original Grindhouse Contest (which got the Hobo With A Shotgun faux-trailer attached to at least all the Canadian prints of the double-bill extravaganza), they are holding a Trailer Contest.

And you thought this would be just a simple Friday One Sheet Post, didn’t you? Hobo With A Shotgun opens in Canada on March 25 with an American release soon to follow. If you are in Toronto or Montreal, there are plenty of cult film sites giving away advance passes. (You probably want to see this with a rabid anticipatory cult audience, because the film is going to baffle and piss off the mainstream folks who wander in.)

Bookmarks for January 12

  • It’s Really Not That Complicated
    While I do not completely agree with Noah Forrest’s take on the Nancy Meyers’ Romantic Drama-dy, It’s Complicated, I do agree that Meyers does take some easy-way-outs to facilitate the story, rather than any sort of realism. As a bonus there is some interesting ‘Best TV of the Decade” stuff tacked on at the bottom of this column. While the film isn’t really complicated, it is still a very solid genre entry and easily the directors best film to date. BONUS: There is a tid-bit of interesting ‘Best TV of the Decade” commentary tacked on at the bottom of Noah’s column.
  • DVD in awards season could be the trigger for The Hurt Locker
    “Though audiences seemed unwilling to trust the 97% positive rating from film review site RottenTomatoes.com, the awards season may help The Hurt Locker turn a corner in the fight for moviegoers.”
  • Sony on Spider Man Reboot
    Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire are done. Brand new take on the character is aiming for 2012. Sony issues press release.
  • Lost in the Air: Jason Reitman animates the press corps
    Here’s a short depicting Reitman’s recent press tour, edited together from iPhone images.
  • The Oscars, Australian Government, and You: A Guide to Oscar Nods
    The final list of ten nominees is actually pruned down from a few hundred potential films (274 this year) by preferential voting rather than by a plurality. That way, a movie needs more than 10% of the total votes to be nominated. Preferential voting essentially lessens the chance of a wasted vote by giving each voter a series of fall back choices instead of one all or nothing shot. Here’s a full breakdown of the system.
  • The Curse Of Harrison Ford
    Look at all of the careers Ford has destroyed simply being on screen together that one time.

 
 

You can now take a look at RowThree’s bookmarks at any time of your choosing simply by clicking the “delicious” button to your left. It looks remarkably similar to this:

Tarantino’s Top 8 Films of 2009

Hey, we’re likely to see Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds on quite a few top ten lists this year and we know he’s probably a bigger movie buff than anyone reading this, so it’s only natural he would unleash his personal top movies list as well.

So here he is telling The Hollywood Reporter his favorite films of the year (so far). With Tarantino, it’s not really all that surprising to see Drag Me to Hell on the list and frankly not one I would even want to argue with; great pick! It’s only a top eight so that he has room to potentially add a couple films that he admits to not having seen yet that might make the cut: Avatar, Invictus and The Lovely Bones.

8. An Education
7. Precious
6. Observe and Report
5. Chocolate
4. Up in the Air
3. Funny People
2. Drag Me To Hell
1. Star Trek

The video interview is under the seats if you want to see and hear the man himself “announce” his picks.

Would you like to know more…?

Bookmarks for October 30th

What we’ve been reading – October 30th:

  • Doc Films and Social Impact: Outreach, Outreach, Outreach
    In a 2007 study titled Documentaries on a Mission, scholar Matt Nisbet suggests that the bulk of the documentary audiences are “the choir,” a group of people watching films that cater to their “pre-existing social views.” He offers that one way a film can get beyond the choir and on the public agenda is by providing a news hook: “Documentary films…have a strong influence as media agenda-setters. Films provide dramatic ‘news pegs’ for journalists seeking to either sustain or generate new coverage of an issue.”
  • How Mr Fox saved Wes Anderson
    Though we don’t like to admit it, Anderson has been on a bit of a slide lately. Something artful and still auteur from the director yet aimed more at the masses is exactly what he needed.
  • George Miller Has Found His Max
    Tom Hardy is currently in negotiations to play “Mad” Max Rockatansky in Fury Road, the fourth film in the post-apocalyptic franchise.
  • Evil Dead coming back to theaters!
    Sam Raimi’s classic horror film “The Evil Dead” will be making its way back to theaters. It’s being re-released for a special run by Grindhouse Releasing, though no official dates have been given.
  • Give Me The Best Fictional Baseball Teams In Movie History!
    Confronted with the choice to root for the Yankees or the Phillies in this year’s World Series – or even the option to watch the action – I plan to opt for nearly anything else. I’m going to pop in a DVD and take in some of the great fictional baseball teams in movie history to forget about this season. Here are my picks…
  • Jackman ditches Oscars
    According to Variety, sources close to Jackman confirmed he turned the gig down in order to keep his mind on his current Broadway run then get his head back into movies for a while. He might host it again, but isn’t keen on doing it 2 years in a row.
  • Adorable But Horrible: 26 Cute Critters You’ll Want to Avoid
    Horror isn’t always slimy and grotesque; some of the most frightening monsters come in the cutest packages. We list the fluffy, wide-eyed, and downright adorable critters that want to scare you, eat you, or enslave you for all time.

WoW Movie Forges Ahead With Sam Raimi

Sam RaimiThe web is trying to give me a heart attack today. How else would you explain news, first from Omelete, and then from Gamers Game, that Sam Raimi will be directing the (a) World of Warcraft film?

And here I thought this project was a bit of a joke; a passing trend that would never catch on. Looks like I was dead wrong.

According to Variety, Raimi will develop the film to be shot after the completion of Spider-Man 4 which means it’s still a few years away; this gives the team a bit of time to work out the details (like the story). But what of the simple fact that he’s directing a movie based on a video game? Aren’t the results of these adaptations usually mediocre at best? Can Raimi create a new breed of video game movie? I’m not sure but this could certainly be the place to start. I’m not well versed in the WoW universe but it seems to me like there is a fair bit of mythology in the universe which could make for the basis of an interesting film and perhaps even a franchise if the production plays its cards right.

Now that WoW is taken care of, I wonder if that proposed Halo movie is next. Though we haven’t seen District 9 yet, few people seem to be complaining about Neill Blomkamp’s abilities…