Will the ‘DON’T TOUCH!’ of horror get manhandled? With the premiere of The Evil Dead remake just around the corner, let’s look at a brief (ok, not so brief) overview of the reactions to the news and the remaking process in the horror genre today.
|Behind the scenes: Alvarez directs all of his gorification|
With the film industry being as profit-ruthless as any other industry, the horror genre is coercing more and more into the commercial realm for larger scoped, big-budgeted ‘blood money’ concepts. Subsequently,
producers and directors who may not share the same level of respect to the
genre’s previous works are being increasingly attached to horror projects.
Though it works both ways. Young, emerging filmmakers who initially idolized
the neo-classics of the genre in their teens- and then who were further
influenced when revisiting its classics- too have dreams of one day paying deference
to the franchise they once dreamt about.
The genre’s hits of the (predominantly) seventies, eighties and nineties have all been subject – and mostly victims- to ‘remodellings’, ‘reworks’ or ‘remakes’ (whatever word is decided to be attached to it.) To name a few obvious examples, The Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Halloween’s marathon franchise, as well as The Nightmare’s on Elm Street’s, I Spit On Your Grave, The Thing, The Hills Have Eyes and The Crazies. It’s not a particularly new ‘craze’ and it certainly isn’t likely to halt anytime soon.
So it was only a matter of time until we were to see a group of fresh faces walk into a cabin and summon the (newer) evil entities by reading from the (newer) Book of the Dead. The Evil Dead remake process was never more than an arm’s length away, with original director Sam Raimi a prominent industry figure and its star Bruce Campbell is still… well, alive.
Though people, and fans in particular, naturally regard remakes of their beloved movies a sacrilege to the industry today, some have gone on to impress and even be awarded critical acclaim. Though they are far and few between, and are somewhat squished beneath the chaos of flops (I certainly wouldn’t call it a mixed bag) it would bear a sincere lack of judgement and evaluation to ignore those that have done.
Maniac is one of the most recent remakes with an upcoming release and is refreshingly good. Sticking to the original storyline and its focus on the character development of an obsessive serial killer, the latest version will be, I believe, largely received with respect. Director Franck Kahlfoun even managed to make Frodo look convincingly bad-ass.
Though the preceding question when a remake has got a few nods from the fans is always the same; “it was good but was it better than the original?” The response is almost always no (though obviously a few exceptions exempt from this ‘rule’).
Instant reactions of fans to having received the news of The Evil Dead’s remake rather poorly- shocking! Worse things have happened though, haven’t they? Or perhaps the worst is yet to happen?
The director of Pineapple Express and Your Highness is working on a remake of Italian horror auteur Dario Argento’s most critically acclaimed work, Suspiria. It’s been over 35 years since the original marked Argento’s depart from his much-loved Giallo era. Adam Gordon Green will be expected to ignore the film’s cherished visually stylistic flair, admitting the remake will “straight-up horror slasher film, so it’s very different.” With the comedy director not even conferring his Suspiria project with Argento, don’t expect a very reverential remake.
Anyway, with an official red band trailer for Fede Alvarez’ remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic The Evil Dead released last Halloween (I’m not sure if that was a more effective scare tactic for the general film watchers, or for the forty-something-year-old horror fans sweating with nervousness apprehension), first clips raises eyebrows and allows for a sigh of relief: it could be worse.
The trailer certainly doesn’t cop out of showing its gory disposition. Fans can be reassured that it will be an honest homage if not to the film as a whole then at least to its reputation for its insanely blood filled, gut wrenching and stomach-churning nature. It even looks like it will stick to the plot roots and from this two minutes, even to the exact screen shots. Hmmm.
However, a disappointing element- which was almost definitely always going to be the case- lies with the make-up and special effects. The character of Linda (as named in the original) looks nothing more than a modern-day Regan. What was so great about the 1981 original, and which I’m sure has played a huge factor in its growing success and ongoing generational interest, was the low-budget detail and its deliberately outdated intentions; for instance in Raimi attaching a camera to a shopping trolley and running though the words to create the shaky point-of-view of the escaping victim. Of course, no-one will expect such raw extremities these days, but will this authenticity struggle to transfer to a modern pic? Probably so. Alvarez will have to find new, innovative ways to re-capture its roots.
It’s a risky business. But what sets this aside from a lot of other remakes is that the original producers (Robert G. tapert and Raimi himself) are involved. Raimi reportedly hand picked Alvarez to direct it himself too. Though still taking it with a pinch of salt, I think this could be an interesting, well-executed remake. There’s got to be at least a few out there somewhere.
But why not make a more respectful homage in a similar, but new, project? Cabin In The Woods dabbled with that idea- deliberately starting to play out the outlined premise of The Evil Dead- before exploding into obscure, nonsensical ridiculousness. Federico Zampaglione also proved the method’s worthiness in delivering a love-letter to 70’s Giallo work in this year’s Tulpa, imitating aesthetic style rather than story. Whether it’s done well or not, it can be done.
But what may have been continuingly overshadowing the news of the remake is a rumoured Evil Dead 4, directed by Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell himself. But that’s another rant for another day…
|Behind the scenes: Lou Taylor Pucci fixated on The Book Of The Dead|
Alvarez’ The Evil Dead will premiere at the 20th edition of the South by Southwest (SFSX) Festival in
this March. Austin, Texas