The Evil Dead

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in November 2011, David C. Bell explores some of the toughest roads to the big screen for a score of great movies. Most films tend to be technological and logistical nightmares right from the start; clusters of egos working together with complicated equipment in an attempt to capture what is essentially a really elaborate lie tends to be a rather surreal process, so it’s not really surprising to hear that a whole lot of craziness can go down during the making of a movie – however as unsurprising as it may be, it’s still damn entertaining. That’s why DVD documentaries, in my opinion, are like the ultimate kind of reality TV: stick a bunch of millionaire actors, union laborers, and eccentric artists in a room with expensive and possibly life-threatening electrical equipment and you’re surely going to get something worth watching. These are the sets that were no doubt the worst to be party to, and the best to be a fly on the wall for – that is if you happen to be a really sadistic fly.

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IntroPOV

Technically speaking, a “POV shot” could count anything coupled with a reaction shot, or any over the shoulder shots – but that aside, there’s none better than the straight on, through-the-characters-eyes shot that’s been around almost as long as filmmaking has. It’s cemented itself in the craft since the 1940s, and has unsurprisingly taken a great array of variations over eight decades. Let’s look at some of the best, most iconic, uses of the classic POV shot, shall we?

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IntroActorInjured

Like any workplace, injuries happen all the time on set – the only difference is that you don’t tend to burn your genitals while organizing a meeting or suffer major brain injury while carpooling for lunch, unless you suck at driving. On film sets, despite every precaution, these things seem a lot more organic. That said, it’s way more rare when an actor or actress willingly undergoes physical harm, either for the sake of the art or through sheer dedication to the role. I’m not talking about poor Tippi Hedren or Peter Lorre being forced to by their directors – no, these are actors who only had themselves to blame. For the sake of brevity I’ve also excluded crazy people who like to flip around, like Jackie Chan and Jet Li, from the list. They transcend a list like this, but there are plenty of other actors who gave their bodies to the craft in big ways

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IntroMundaneBadass

In reality, no job is actually mundane unless you make it that way. Washing dishes or delivering mail can be terrific if you’re happy, and you’re with people who make you happy. My point is – a job is whatever you want it to be. You can quote me on that. “A job is whatever you want it to be.” – Man wearing pajama pants Anyhoo – in the movie world this tends to be different. Very rarely do we see a character shuffling fries and acting completely content. The best however, is when a mundane job is used to juxtapose the badassness of the character – or better yet, the badass character just happens to have a mundane job attached to them. These are by far the best combinations of “boring” vs “badass” I could think up in a single afternoon while not wearing any pants. Shop smart, everyone:

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Within-the-Woods

Why Watch? After all the cultish love and the trivia and the rebooting, isn’t it nice to get back to its roots? Also, The Rebooting is a horror movie I’m writing. Don’t steal the idea. It’s pretty obvious to see the DNA for The Evil Dead in this short where Bruce Campbell plays himself with terrifying make-up (and a mysteriously deep knowledge of ancient rituals). In fact, it was made specifically to raise money for a feature film called The Book of the Dead that Campbell, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert were planning on making. It…didn’t succeed. It only played publicly one time — before a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Detroit — but Raimi and company didn’t have permission to use the music, and the whole thing became a clustercuss that would haunt them all the way through the 2002 special edition release of The Evil Dead. There are sadly no high quality versions out there, but even through the wavy VHS-friendly lines, you can still make out the abject terror that comes with running a camera as low to the ground as possible in a disgusting forest. And the horror make-up effects! So good. So, so good. What will it cost? Around 30 minutes. Skip Work. Watch More Short Films.

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You read the headline correctly. The number of horror classics that could be remade outnumbers the number that shouldn’t be. I’ve bought into it. I’ve seen enough good examples of remakes done well to no longer balk at the announcement of a new one outright (and I’m sure 5 more will be green-lit by the time I’ve finished typ…okay 5 more just got green-lit…); and if early word on the new Evil Dead picture is to be believed then it’s just one more punctured notch into the human-skinned belt of worthwhile horror remakes. No horror picture is safe from being resuscitated and put back through a brand new shiny meat grinder. Sometimes we get unexpectedly tasty ground sirloin; and sometimes we get mildewy grotesqueness reminiscent of “The Stuff” (which could use a remake). Talented filmmakers will make a good picture while talented accountants will make money. Sometimes both can be satisfied, and that readily occurs in the production of a horror remake because they’re cheap to make, easy to sell, and fun to play around with. They’re the pancakes of the film industry. Almost any horror picture is capable of being remade well given the right kind of people with the right kind of attitude. While it feels like everything’s already been remade, there are still a few stragglers that haven’t. Here are 5 that shouldn’t and 10 where an update might not be so bad.

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commentary-evildead

For a cult classic like Sam Raimi’s original 1981 shocker The Evil Dead, there’s plenty of widely known trivia out there – from the use of his 1973 Delta 88 Oldsmobile classic to how many people fled the production when money ran short and schedules ran long. Back in 1998, when DVDs were still relatively new, Raimi and his producer Robert Tapert sat down to do a commentary on the film, giving the stories from the set from the horses’ mouths. With the remake coming out this week, it’s a good point to look back on this groundbreaking masterpiece of low-budget splatter. Recorded before Raimi became one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, making films like the Spider-Man series and now Oz the Great and Powerful, this commentary offers some modest insight with the man closer to his low-budget roots.

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Sam Raimi Directing

Bridging two worlds, Sam Raimi has done something incredibly difficult as a filmmaker. He’s proven himself as the capable creator of massive budget spectacle with heart while remaining the cult hero that early fans continue to worship. He sold out without selling out. That in itself is a bold lesson in staying true to your own sensibilities no matter what the bottom line is, but there’s a lot more to learn from the man who grew to prominence by cutting off Bruce Campbell’s hand. The key? You can’t just take a hand; you have to replace it with a chainsaw. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a very snappy dresser who doesn’t mind getting covered in blood.

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Drinking Games

By now, if you’re a horror fan, you are at least curious about the upcoming Evil Dead remake that is hitting the theaters this weekend. Whether you pooh-pooh the thought of remaking a classic film or if you’re eager to see a new, bloody installment in the franchise, you can’t help but have the Sam Raimi original on the brain. With about 847 different versions of 1981’s The Evil Dead available on various home video formats – from VHS and Betamax to the current Blu-ray release – as well as being available this month on Netflix Instant, there’s no better time than to check out this groundbreaking film. If the gore isn’t enough to make you queasy, why not try this drinking game to make your head spin by the end?

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TheIncredibleBurtWonderstone2

I’m currently just four days away from attending my very first Sundance Film Festival, and I’m understandably excited (and nervous about the cold). But just because my upcoming affections will be directed towards this frigid newcomer doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten the one that broke my festival cherry. That honor belongs to Austin’s SXSW in March of 2009. SXSW remains one of the preeminent film festivals for movie lovers, and FSR is still covering it better than anyone else. 2013 will be no different thanks to what looks like another fantastic line-up of films and events. The first few titles have just been announced, and they include a mix of the hotly anticipated and the interesting unknowns. The opening night film is The Incredible Burt Wonderstone starring Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, and we’ll also be seeing the scary as f*ck-looking remake of Evil Dead, a new Joe Swanberg film potentially made bearable thanks to its immensely appealing cast, Harmony Korine‘s unabashedly sexy and strange Spring Breakers, and more. Keep reading to see what other films are being teased at this year’s SXSW, and check back with us when the full slate is announced January 31st through February 6th.

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Evil Dead Teaser Trailer

While we might have all balked at the news that horror classic Evil Dead was being remade (who is directing it? it’s being written by Diablo Cody? and there’s no Ash? and our Ash stand-in might be Lily Collins?), the latest news about the “quasi-remake” has been surprisingly solid, particularly thanks to some great buzz out of this month’s New York Comic-Con. What? You didn’t believe it? That’s okay, because the Evil Dead team gets that, which is why the film’s first teaser trailer capitalizes on all that positive buzz. The word out of NYCC was that the full Evil Dead trailer was one hell of a crowdpleaser – and that it was bloody as sin (The Playlist called it “explicitly red band”), and there’s some nice hints of that in this first teaser (but only hints – or drips). Of course, as is becoming the norm, this teaser is really just a teaser for a teaser, and we’ll be getting the “full” teaser tomorrow. But for now, yeah, this will do.

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We rarely get to see movies being watched in other movies – probably because while it’s fun to watch films, it’s fairly boring to watch other people watch films. That being said – there are plenty of characters out there who would no doubt be a blast to watch movies with… Batman, for example. Anyway, when we do see a real life movie being watched in another movie it tends to be a film that most likely inspired the filmmakers either in their own upbringing or as a plot device in the film itself. Because of that one thing is certain – if you see a real movie being watched in the movie you’re watching, there’s a good chance that movie is awesome. Before anything though, I gotta shout out to Mr. Cole Abaius for coming up with the idea for this list. The man is a true demigod, and from what I hear the other half is pretty good too.

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Get ready to cringe, people who hate the idea of remakes, reimaginings, and redos, the latest news about the Evil Dead remake is a doozy. Anybody who is a fan of the original Evil Dead movies, or any of Sam Raimi’s work in general, knows the name Bruce Campbell. He of big chin and cocky attitude is such a strong personality, such a big screen presence, that finding somebody to replace him in his iconic, fame-making role as Ash was probably the biggest hurdle that this remake had in front of it. How many young actors can you think of out there that could feasibly replace Bruce Campbell and not make it seem like a total letdown when he chops his hand off? I can’t think of many. Maybe Paul Dano would have been fun, just for the overacting. Well, instead of dealing with this problem head-on and trying to find the perfect person to play the new Ash, it looks like the creative minds behind this new Evil Dead are throwing us a curveball. In this movie, the main character is no longer Ash. Ash is now Mia, and the role is going might be played by…Lily Collins. I know what you’re asking yourself right now, you’re asking yourself, “Who the heck is Lily Collins?” I know, I had the same reaction. Well, she’s a young actress who was not only in the movie Priest (did anyone go see that one?), but she was also the daughter in The […]

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Awesome Camera Rigs

It’s hard to get excited about something as technical as that thing that makes cameras not fall down on film sets, especially these days, when you can make a successful film without even going through the effort of picking up a camera at all. Even if you are shooting a live action film, thanks to the realism of CGI, computers are now able to put a lens wherever you need it to be – this is why I think we need to take a second to celebrate some of the hard working pieces of lightweight metal that were behind a few of the more bitchin’ shots out there. These rigs got the shot done, computers be damned!

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Dalek Pumpkin

What is Movie News After Dark? As of this evening, it’s a nightly movie news column that’s just happy to have a place to call home. It’s thankful for hard working code monkeys and developer-types who worked countless hours to put Humpty Dumpty (that’s actually what we call our server — coincidence, perhaps) back together again. Now it’s time to do the news. We begin tonight with the best pumpkin design I’ve seen thus far, a Dalek from Doctor Who. It was sent to me by our spooktacular Managing Editor Cole Abaius this afternoon in an email titled “Just in case we have a website ever again…” It’s been a stressful weekend.

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You never know. You just never know. I wonder if back in 1930, Universal Studios make up artist, Jack Pierce while constructing his “monster” make-up on actor Boris Karloff, had wondered if he was creating something transcendent. Something that would forever infuse itself into the western culture generation after generation, becoming the mental image that every brain would access when it heard the name “Frankenstein.” I bet he didn’t. I bet ol’ Jack had an assignment, did the best job that he could, collected his meager paycheck and was grateful to be working during the depression. Truly, that is the way it is. You never can tell what will connect with audiences. You just do the work, collect your salary, and thank God you are not pounding the pavement looking for your next job. Evil Dead II is one of those cult favorite films that so much of has been discussed and revealed through interviews, articles, supplemental videos on DVD’s, convention panels, etc., that I’m not sure what I can add to all of this information besides my individual view point. Forgive me if you’ve heard much of this information before; just know that what you are now reading is not being pushed through the filter of a reporter. I was there in Mark Shostrom’s South Pasadena studio. And although, again, I didn’t go to location in North Carolina, what I designed and sculpted at Mark’s would follow me to this day.

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Late last night a lot of questions got raised about a new Evil Dead movie. There were reports that a new one was going into production, conflicting reports that Sam Raimi was just casting for his upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful, and then confirmation from Bruce Campbell that a remake was ready to happen. This morning Bloody Disgusting was able to clear things up quite a bit by reporting that Raimi does indeed have a “quasi-remake” of The Evil Dead gearing up for production, but that he doesn’t intend on directing it himself. Instead the job is going to newcomer Fede Alvarez. Despite the fact that Bruce Campbell had the inside scoop on the project, there isn’t any word if he will have a role in the film or if they will be looking to cast all new actors. Given Campbell’s close relationship with Raimi, I don’t think that it’s a given that just because he knows about the project he will be in any significant way involved. That said, I think we can all agree that he better be. I would opine that a large reason Raimi’s first three films in this universe work is the screen presence of Campbell. Without him, you don’t have Ash, you just have some horror movie starring a dude.

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Why not? There’s been talk all day about a remake of Sam Raimi’s low budget terror flick. Theoretically it will rise from the grave and come out of the mist sometime in the near future, but until then, let’s take a look at the original trailer for The Evil Dead. Filmed at a real-life abandoned cabin, this movie was the culmination of high school friends who spent too many hours playing around with Super 8 cameras in their youth. Unsurprisingly, they would grow up to film a scene where possessed trees rape a woman, proving that film school just isn’t necessary to create good art. That scene was actually banned in some countries, but the movie also achieved the rare feat of naming its lead male character Ashley and making him a badass. Now why isn’t anyone clamoring for a remake of It’s Murder!?

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Like the dinosaur blood found inside ancient, tree sap-encased mosquitoes, short films can often be cultivated and grown into something bigger and more rewarding: a feature film (sorry if you were hoping for a T-Rex). Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, there are more and more quality short films popping up everyday (and we’ve been trying our darndest to pay them their due around here), many of them hoping to hit it big and make a name for the filmmakers. It’s not an impossible dream — in fact, while you have heard of most of these writers and directors, they weren’t all that famous back when they made their shorts. Here are twelve films that started small before hitting the cineplexes:

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Evil Dead in 60 Seconds with Clay

Ah, fans. You always do find the most creative ways to pay homage to your favorite cult classics. And in the case of this little claymation short film from filmmaker Lee Hardcastle, it’s all about the most interesting way to tell one of the great B-level horror stories in one minute flat.

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