Harry goes batshit crazy in love with Fede Alvarez's EVIL DEAD at SXSW Opening Night!!!
Thank Fucking Christ!
EVIL DEAD has always been wantonly blasphemous, indecent and gross beyond all reason. It has had a wicked evil pitch black sense of humor. And it has always had more than enough of its scares. Those original Raimi films were some of the most inventive and vital works of insane fucking cinema – and there’s a reason we love them. THEY RULE.
The experience of watching this film from the back of the Paramount Theater was one of the most viscerally thrilling experiences that I’ve yet had at the Paramount. Watching FROM DUSK TIL DAWN in there was astonishing. Watching DRAG ME TO HELL in there was truly demonic. BLADE 2 was a night that I’ll never forget, but tonight… Let me do this old school, the way vintage Harry would…
The day started with the best badge registration process I’ve ever had at SXSW. I had the press screening of OZ, THE GREAT & POWERFUL – and decided at that moment that this day was meant to honor Raimi. Hail to the king, baby!
After OZ – I came home, wrote up the review, had a bit of dinner, got something stuck in the back of my throat, began uncontrollably gagging and coughing, until I vomited into my hand onto my face. SHOWER.
Ok. That was fucking gross. That was nothing.
I was wearing what I call my EVIL DEAD shirt. It has a skull with eyeballs on it, surrounded by ROSEBUDs… so appropriate for EVIL DEAD.
We got to the theater hours ahead of time. Sure, I was doing the Q&A with the filmmakers afterwards… but I wanted nothing to go wrong. Plus, I was electrified to see EVIL DEAD. I loved Fede Alvarez’s script, but knew it had been through a few more drafts. The one I read convinced me of one thing. Fede intended to bring it.
Keep that name on the tip of your tongue, because after you see this movie you’re going to kiss his ass so hard.
The 1200 seat PARAMOUNT theatre went nuts repeatedly. Gleefully shocking, audaciously repugnant and gloriously hardcore. This is the horror film that seriously makes everyone else look a bit like a pussy.
This is a Modern R-rated horror?
I take it that the MPAA has been watching THE WALKING DEAD on Basic Cable and just decided to chill the fuck out, because there’s stuff that will make you gag, giggle and gasp. The 3 Gs. In that order.
The best part, this isn’t imitation, this is a first time filmmaker being asked to do something that no first time filmmaker should have to do, compete with not one, but three classic films that birthed a cinematic icon that we worship to this very day, Bruce Campbell – and btw – he’s all over this film in ways that only a fan will seek out.
Fede came to this film and made a statement, he’s not intimidated by fucking anything. He owned that theater tonight.
Now, the story of watching this film is something particularly special. You see, because I’m in the wheelchair, for me to get on the stage, I have to race out at the start of the end credits, go all the way around the block, into an alley and through the rear stage door. So, I’m at the back row.
To my immediate right was Yoko and Annette Kellerman, 3 empty reserved seats and a lady on the aisle on the other side.
Now, this is a film that I watched leaning forward, elbows on my knees and biting my hand, fingers leaping to around my eyes, to keep myself from looking away. This is one the single most viscerally thrilling horror film experiences I’ve ever had… But that lady on the aisle, in the row with Yoko & Annette… 5 times she pulled out her phone. The last time, she was seemingly browsing the screen at her leisure. Yoko wanted to say something, but didn’t wish to disturb anyone else, so she leaps past me, goes into the lobby and through the doors on the other side to tell the lady to stop.
I loathe people that do that. At things like SXSW, we get a lot of out of towners and industry folks that, well… frankly just weren’t raised with the proper respect for the Movie Theater experience… before mobile devices. Being at the back, I spotted 2 others on stage right, that did it too.
Anyway – I decided that there was no way that I’d let this get to me or interfere with my own experience. I was enthralled.
This is very different and at the same time familiar film. We know the cabin in the woods scenario, the friends go, SOMEBODY IS GONNA FUCKING READ THE BOOK OUT LOUD or hit play on a reel to reel. And then everything is gonna be really and terribly wrong for those souls about to be swallowed.
Well, Fede decided to adhere closer to the tone of the original THE EVIL DEAD. He had a budget that gave him a luxurious shooting schedule – so he could shoot practical effects and get them right. That’s the key, having the time to make all those horrifying gags come off perfectly. It isn’t easy. If you’re a serious horror geek you know that for every successful practical gag, there’s endless takes of it just going wrong. It’s a brutal thing, but when it is put together right, lit right and performed to right… there is nothing ever better.
When you spray shit in actors faces when they’re freaking out from dismemberment and violence – there’s a power to the images. They can make you twitch, squirm, shake, vomit, pass out, scream and all that good stuff. It’s what horror fans live for. It is heaven, drenched bloody as hell.
The 5 main players in the film are absolutely fantastic. These 5 do an amazing job. This time, instead of it being a bunch of youngsters heading into the woods to fuck, they’re there to handle something far more brutal.
Yeah, in case raising a Candarian Demon spirit out of the Necro… oh yeah, rights issues… well, fuck it. The Necronomican. In case that wasn’t enough, Jane Levy’s MIA is hooked on smack. Her friends, Jessica Lucas’ Olivia – a trained nurse, Lou Taylor Pucci’s Eric –dumb fuck that reads the book, and Elizabeth Blackmore’s Natalie. Natalie has a history with Mia’s estranged brother, David – played wonderfully by Shiloh Fernandez.
All those friends are there to help her quit heroin forever, cold turkey. They know she’ll be hallucinating, deceptive and all kinds of fucked up. So when that Candarian Demon squirms up her… privates during TREE RAPE… well, Mia begins to act very poorly, you could say. They figure it’s withdrawals. The friends are adamant about not letting Mia leave. The brother is less so, but he hasn’t had to deal with this shit before. Her friends have done this and dealt with her addiction issues… and well, it hasn’t been fun.
But we know what’s up. We’re EVIL DEAD junkies, and there is never a second in my life after these films entered my consciousness that I haven’t loved it.
I won’t delve into the 3rd act at all, but if you are an experienced EVIL DEAD fan, prepare to be floored. This isn’t at all the playful EVIL DEAD 2 or ARMY OF DARKNESS, this EVIL DEAD wants you to bleed, it wants to hurt you, scare you and freak you the fuck out. The theater had screams, cheers, gasps and hyperventilating, “EW EW EW EW EWWWWWS”.
This isn’t found footage.
This isn’t CG blood.
This isn’t half assed.
This is EVIL DEAD like you’ve never quite seen it before.
I know you have to wait till April 5th to see this film, and for some of you around the world, even longer. But folks, put it on the calendar… call your friends… and plan to celebrate afterwards.
I loved this film so much, that even though I have to get up at 6am to head back out into SXSW, I’m writing this review. That’s the love I have for this film.
OK – so the film ends, people are screaming, cheering and clapping till their hands hurt, and I begin the race to the back of the theater. But that’s fine, nobody was going to leave. We had Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell repping the old school – and producing along with Sam Raimi this new one. We had Fede Alvarez there – and all five of the leads… Jane Levy, Jessica Lucas, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci and Elizabeth Blackmore. I couldn’t wait to moderate this Q&A.
The audience asked great questions, one guy wants a job working on the sequel and even gave Tapert his info. NO JOKE. Listening to Jane Levy talking about a particularly horrifying moment that she had to live through… multiple times, because they weren’t quite getting what they needed…
The Academy will never have the balls to nominate any of these folks for what they did – but Jane Levy – keep your eyes… ha. Try keeping your eyes off this lady, she’s a powerhouse in this film. She isn’t ASH with tits, they’re nowhere near the same types of characters. She’s hurting before anything happens – and it just keeps getting worse.
That’s the key to making a great EVIL DEAD movie, you have to have someone with a strong giggling sadistic freak in charge that loves to torture actors in the best way. As each member of the cast listed off the unforgettable moment that they take with them from this movie, the audience was just… enraptured. These 5 went through the ringer, emotionally, physically and BLESS THEM FOR IT!
Now… if you plan to make a horror film, you need to watch this movie – and learn the right lessons. Build your shoot so you can shoot practical till you get it right. It’s so fucking important.
OH – and Roque Baños! I’ve been a fan of Roque’s ever since I saw 800 BALAS by Alex De La Iglesia, but since that point – my ears loved his scores for the TORRENTE movies and pretty much all of Iglesia’s modern work, but other than THE MACHINIST and SEXY BEAST – we haven’t heard his scores in the US, unless you knew to seek him out. After you experience EVIL DEAD, I’m positive you’re going to want to know more of this man’s work. You will be rewarded, especially if you check out the films too! Here, his score is so incredibly impressive.
You’ll be electrified by the camera work and the sound design is pure bliss. There isn’t a single weak link in this film – and again… Fede Alvarez. Take him and Jane Levy with you at the very least. But horror fans, you’ve been waiting for this one… I promise.
OH – and lastly, the lady that took her phone out “to check the time” – she was someone that was backstage. Now Yoko has never in the 7 years I’ve known her ever lost her cool and confronted someone. But as I was talking with Fede backstage, I suddenly realize that Yoko and this lady are having words. I was focused on the conversation I was having, but I could see and hear this lady trying to pretend to everyone back there that she was innocent.
Ma’am. No. You took your phone out 5 times – and the last time, for a long time, where your finger was moving around the screening as though you were browsing. Now, you might get to watch private studio lot screenings… and in LA at premieres – proper film etiquette has never been a top concern. But ma’am, you’re in Austin – and in Austin we love our films. We love our theaters. And we have theaters in this city that will kick you out for doing it once. I heard you call my wife CRAZY to the folks around you. And ya know, she was. I’ve been with her for 7 years now and she’s absolutely phobic about confrontation. I might assume that a Candarian Demon came out of the screen and took her over… but then, you’re still breathing. No, it was your actions that made my wife crazy tonight. She went crazy because she loved the movie you worked on. BUT – because of what you did, there’s a blight. Because when you do something like that repeatedly – there’s a process that goes off in a person’s head. First they think, “How rude, if she does that again I should say something.” The second time is, “What the fuck?” but you did it quickly. Same with the third and fourth times. But the 5th time… You kept it lit up long enough, for her and our friend Annette to stare at you, I looked over three times before suddenly Yoko was running around to properly scorn you for your really terrible behavior. But then… for at least 20 minutes, I bet her adrenaline was going off – as her mind was thinking just what kind of terrible person you must be to feel so privileged to whip out your phone to BROWSE, not just check the time as you told your friends. I love the film you came with, in spite of your actions. I loved everyone that I met from the team. But you, check the time in the lobby next time. I understand, you’re a part of the film, you worked on this. You’ve perhaps seen many cuts. But for everyone else in that theater, this was the first time. The only time they could see the film unhyped by the reactions of this screening. And this review, which is a rave, has this in it, because of what you did – and that’s just an embarrassment. Your embarrassment. I could name you, but I won’t. Just realize, your actions affect those around you. You do not exist in the phantom zone. You’re not invisible with an iPhone screen at maximum brightness. Are we overreacting? Perhaps, but you should know better. You should respect all the hard work of everyone that made this film and take your self-important phone fidgeting outside. Congrats on being a part of an amazing movie. I hope you learn from this experience and become more respectful in movie theaters. Yes, I was horrified that my wife went crazy and actually confronted you in back. She has tearfully apologized tonight – many many times. But ya know, you earned it. I wish you the absolute best luck with this movie.
Folks – sorry about the rant, but sometimes… things happen in a theater that shouldn’t. For something like this to happen at the World Premiere of a first time filmmaker’s brilliant debut – and I can’t believe I’m distracted by this.
I should just be telling everyone to go see this movie as soon as it comes out and often. FEDE ALVAREZ is the real deal folks. 100% Badass! And another great start to another amazing SXSW!
What a night!
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