THE EVIL DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2013: A COMPARISON IN HORROR!

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THE EVIL DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2013: A COMPARISON IN HORROR!

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING! In order to properly compare these two films, I have to give DETAILED SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead or Fede Alvarez’s  Evil Dead remake, there are MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW for each film. You have been warned!

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After seeing  Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe recently, it made me go back and revisit his Evil Dead remake. Since I haven’t done a Comparison In Horror in a while, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to compare Raimi’s classic with Alvarez’s update…

(Click on the highlighted movie titles to go to the full length reviews and on the photos to enlarge them!)

THE STORY

Sam Raimi’s classic The Evil Dead has five young people going up to a secluded cabin in the woods for a weekend of partying and fun. When they get to the rundown cabin, they find an old book and a tape recording in the creepy cellar that claims it is the book of the dead and wrapped in human flesh. Thinking it’s all a joke, they play the recording, which includes someone reading from the book and find out the hard way that it’s all too real, as they unleash horror beyond their imaginations.

Fede Alvarez’s remake has five youths going up to a old family cabin that hasn’t been visited in years. They are there as an intervention for one of their number, who is addicted to heroin. When they get to the rundown cabin they discover some spooky goings on have occurred there and find an old book in the creepy cellar that claims it is the book of the dead. Despite being wrapped in plastic and barbed wire and filled with warnings to not read from it, one curious person does and unleashes horror beyond their imaginations.

There are some differences in plot details, but basically both flicks have a cabin with five unsuspecting youths, two of whom are brother and sister, being attacked and possessed by an ancient evil conjured from reading an ominous book that has been left there by others.

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THE ANTAGONISTS

Both flicks basically have the same antagonists. They are ancient evil spirits known as Deadites that are unleashed when either the book is read from directly, or recorded reading from the book is played back. They want the souls of all those in the cabin and possess and torment the occupants claiming them one by one. There are slight differences, too. The methods in which they can be stopped are slightly varied. The original 1981 film requires the possessed victim be totally dismembered to render them harmless, while the new film offers a variety of demises such as burning, boiling water…and the old favorite, bodily dismemberment. Their origins are also slightly different as well. The Deadites in the original seem to hail from somewhere around ancient Sumaria, while the Deadites from the 2013 remake seem connected more directly to Satanism or The Devil and claiming a certain amount of souls will unleash their master, The Dark One.

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HEROES and HEROINES

Here there is a vast difference in our leads. The 1981 version has ill-fated Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell). In Raimi’s classic, the now iconic Ash is a mild mannered fellow and a little on the cowardly side, leaving it up to alpha male Scott (Richard DeManicor) to hack up his possessed sister Cheryl and generally do the hero stuff till the Deadites get him, too. This leaves Ash all alone to man-up and battle the Deadites. It’s not till the sequels that he starts to take on the mantle of a hero, although an arrogant and bumbling one.

In the 2013 version, Alvarez wisely chose not to try to recast such an iconic character and left Ash out of things altogether. Instead, we get siblings David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his heroin addicted sister Mia (Jane Levy). When Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) reads from the book and unleashes the Deadites, vulnerable Mia is the first possessed and David steps up into hero mode trying to battle the evil and somehow save his little sister. In it’s last act this update throws us a twist by having Mia freed of her possession, by some clever thinking by David and then having her brother killed. Mia then takes vengeful center stage against the dark ones, becoming the sole surviving heroine when she started out the film as possessed and villainous.

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THE SETTINGS

Here, settings are exactly the same. Obviously there are differences due to different creative talent, actual location and budget, but both take place in old cabins deep in the North American woods. Raimi filmed much of his epic in Tennessee and the remake filmed on locations in New Zealand.

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THE OPENING SCENES

Both movies have opening scenes that really establish the mood and tone. The original The Evil Dead opens with the camera racing through the woods with some ominous growling heard as it reaches the car carrying our main protagonists. It is quick and to the point, but sets the tone right away that something bad is going to happen to our five unsuspecting travelers.

Alvarez’s Evil Dead opens with a pretty young girl being chased by some rednecks in the woods and being violently captured. She finds herself tied to a post in an old cellar and only after some dialog with her captors, do we realize that these are her family and she is actually a possessed Deadite who curses her father as he sets his own daughter on fire. It is a shocking beginning that certainly sets the tone very well for what is in store for the remake’s group of young folk.

Both openings are perfect for setting us up for what is to come, starting us off with an atmosphere of fear and foreboding. Raimi’s may be simpler, but Alvarez’s is no less effective and a little more shocking.

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THE ENDINGS

In terms of their climaxes, both films have endings that resonate.

The Evil Dead ends with Ash having barely escaped a vicious assault from his possessed friends by burning the book in the fireplace resulting in a roller coaster bloodbath of gore. As the sun starts to rise, he limps out the door only to have the camera race towards him growling like in the opening and coming right at his face as Ash utters  a horrible scream. The film cuts to black and ends with the credits rolling; Ash apparently not as triumphant as he believed. It is ferociously quick and very effective, a last jolt before you leave the theater.

Evil Dead 2013 has Mia, free of Deadite possession, battling the Dark One in a rainstorm of blood with a chainsaw…a battle that costs her a hand. She cleaves the evil doppelgänger of herself in half and slowly walks off holding her bloody stump as the blood rain abates and the sun rises. The last shot is of the book sitting on the ground, as the cabin burns and then suddenly slamming shut as to indicate the evil has not been completely defeated. It is not quite as effective as the original’s, but still works very well.

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MISC.

There are other similarities and differences. The original was shot at a cost of around $400,000 dollars,  while it’s remake benefited from a budget of around $17 Million. Sam Raimi’s classic has some stunningly original camera work concocted on a shoestring budget by Raimi and cinematographer Tim Philo, while Alvarez’s re-imagining has some sumptuous and spooky visuals captured by Aaron Morton.

Also adding atmosphere for both films are their scores. The Evil Dead has a truly unsettling score featuring frantic strings mixed with disturbing growls and sounds concocted by Joseph LoDuca. Evil Dead 2013 has an equally unnerving score also featuring some glaring sounds and sound FX by Roque Baños. Both are really good at setting mood and atmosphere.

Raimi’s masterpiece is infamous for it’s ‘tree rape’ sequence featuring Ash’s sister Cheryl and while Alvarez pays homage to it with Mia, it’s not nearly as shocking as what Raimi did in 1981 and wasn’t trying to be. He also pays homage to Ash’s hand loss in Evil Dead II with Mia losing a hand in her blood soaked battle with the Dark One.

The 1981 film does have a bit of a twisted sense of humor, while the 2013 remake seems to take itself very seriously, though not too seriously that we don’t have a blood spattered good time.

Speaking of blood…Raimi’s flick is filled with some wildly inventive low budget gore FX, mixing prosthetics with stop motion animation and tons of blood. It was released unrated. Alvarez’s flick is extremely violent and gory, but does so within the restraint of it’s R rating…though it does push the boundaries of that quite a bit. Raimi’s inventiveness with his gore has a charm that the top of the line FX of the remake just don’t have, despite being excellently executed by the FX team and quite effective in their own right.

As with all Raimi associated flicks, Raimi’s 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 appears in both Evil Deads with it being Ash’s car in the original and a junked heap at the back of the cabin in the remake.

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So, we have one flick that is a horror masterpiece and one of the greatest horror flicks of all time and a remake which is a solidly effective horror and while it pays tribute to the original quite well, also has it’s own identity, too. Both films have basically the same plot, but differ when it comes to it’s characters and climaxes. Original director Sam Raimi went on to an illustrious career in movies, including making two classic sequels (see our reviews for Evil Dead II HERE and Army Of Darkness HERE) and three Spider-Man films, while Fede Alvarez is off to a good start with Evil Dead 2013 and Don’t Breathe.

In conclusion, the remake may not be on the same level as the classic masterpiece original, but it is a scary and bloody good time that can stand on it’s own and also makes a nice companion piece to the Ash and Evil Dead saga…which includes the new series (yup, review for that HERE!).

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: AVA’S POSSESSIONS (2015)

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AVA’S POSSESSIONS (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Oddly charming flick is a bit of a genre mash-up that tells the story of pretty New Yorker Ava (Louisa Krause). As the tale begins, an exorcism is performed freeing Ava of a demonic spirit that has been controlling her actions for the last 28 days. While her memories of her time possessed are limited, she apparently caused a lot of harm and broke quite a few laws. To avoid prison, she must attend a spirit possession rehabilitation program that will help her get her life back together, help her make amends to those she harmed and strengthen herself against the demon’s attempted return. But as Ava tries to reconstruct her life and right the wrongs she committed, she starts to uncover a mystery which may prove that the demon is the least of her worries.

Written and directed stylishly by Jordan Galland, this is a very offbeat tale with a very dry and hip sense of humor. Despite a premise that could become very silly, Galland treats his subject fairly seriously as more of a neon bathed film noir with a demon possession twist…and it works. The writer/director uses the demon possession elements as if they were a common thing, which is why the church and government co-fund this AA for the formerly possessed, Spirit Possession Anonymous. It’s a plot device to give our heroine amnesia so she must now retrace her steps to find out what she’s done and who she’s hurt. It also creates a dark shadow in her life that is always present as the demon wants her back. The film has a dark underlying sense of humor, yet never allows the outrageous plot to become a joke. This helps us take the mystery elements seriously as Ava tries to find out what happened to her while possessed and who the equally mysterious “Conrad” is. She apparently encountered this person under the demon thrall and he may have answers for her. Along the way she meets Conrad’s art gallery owner son, Ben (Lou Taylor Pucci), Noelle (Alysia Reiner), a hooker she apparently encountered and fellow rehab member Jillian (Whitney Able) who wants her demon back. It’s a very odd little movie that makes it’s eccentric tale work and has a sense of charm despite it’s sometimes dark tone. There is a bit of violence and bloodshed during the course of the film and some heavy atmosphere enhanced by Adrian Correia’s lush neon colored cinematography and Sean Lennon’s hip score.

We also have an effective cast to help make the audacious plot work. Louisa Krause is very good as our heroine. She conveys Ava’s sense of confusion as to why this happened and wanting to know what she did, all the while feeling frustrated for the same reasons. In a way it’s an offbeat journey of discovery and Krause makes a likable and strong lead which helps us get involved in the oddball story. Pucci is charming as Ben, the son of the mysterious Conrad who wants to know how Ava knows his father, just as much as she does. Wass Stevens is solid as the SPA coach, Tony. Dan Folger adds a touch of sarcastic humor as Ava’s lawyer JJ and Reiner is fine as the street-wise Noelle. We also have roles from vets William Sadler as Ava’s dad and Carol Kane as a magic shop owner. An eclectic but strong cast.

I liked this flick. it’s a very offbeat little movie with a very eccentric plot, but writer/director Jordan Galland makes it work. It plays it’s story with a straight face, but not without a very dry sense of humor and isn’t afraid to get a little bloody. It has very solid performances by it’s leading lady and supporting cast and has a very stylish and neon colored look to add to it’s atmosphere. A surprisingly entertaining little movie with both a director and lead actress to keep an eye on!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 bears with drums.

avas possessions rating

 

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COOL STUFF: SPRING on BLU-RAY

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SPRING (2014) Blu-Ray

NOTE: Spring arrived today (6/2/15) on Blu-Ray as a Best Buy exclusive. It will be released to all other retail outlets on 8/11/15.

Spring is already poised to be on many 2015 best horror lists and is definitely going to be included on mine (see full review here). The Blu-Ray is here from Anchor Bay and, in my opinion, is worth having if you are a fan. On the technical side…the picture is in the 2:40:1 aspect ratio and the image is crisp and clear and preserves the subtle colors of co-director Aaron Moorhead’s cinematography. Even with a bit of a muted color scheme, the film still captures the beauty…and a bit of the romantic mystery…of the enchanting Italian locations. This works perfectly with the offbeat, dark fairy tale nature of the film and the more natural look is refreshing in an era of bright comic book colors. The sound is in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, which is perfectly suited to the film’s mostly subtle tone. This is not a big FX action film and it doesn’t need anything too extravagant.

Now on to the extras which make this disc so worth it…

There is audio commentary from directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead and the two present a laid-back account of many aspects of the filmmaking process. There is an extensive ‘making of’ feature that is made up of numerous segments focusing on the script, casting, filming in Italy, the make-up and prosthetic effects from Todd Masters and crew, visual FX, scoring and pretty much every aspect of the film’s production. It’s made by the filmmakers themselves and uses a lot of on-set footage and interviews and is actually a lot of fun. It is lengthy at 70 minutes but, is never boring and avoids the stuffiness of more technically focused ‘making of’ features and if you like the filmmaking process, should find it informative and a bit charming, too. There are two deleted scenes that are actually extended versions of scenes in the film and they were really good exchanges between our leads and it was nice to see them shared. There is a breakdown of FrostFx’s main FX segment during Louise’s big reveal, including nature photos used a s a reference, to the concept drawings, to the actual CGI shot. We also get the filmmakers’ original proof of concept used to sell the movie idea, an alternate ending (which, I’m glad they didn’t use) and a few more minor tidbits that seem to be there just for fun. Overall a very generous selection of extras, most of which are very informative and entertaining on a very reasonably priced disc.

I really enjoyed this film and certainly, with it’s extras, find this disc a must-have. it’s a unique and original film presented on a disc that accentuates that uniqueness with an equally offbeat look at how the film was made from conceptualizing to FX. If you like something a little different movie-wise and enjoy in-depth looks at the filmmaking process, this a certainly a disc worth having in the collection.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SPRING (2014)

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SPRING (2014)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Spring is a very unique combination of genres that blends a sweet romance with disturbing horror and science fiction elements and does it very effectively. The story finds troubled Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), who recently lost his mother and his job, fleeing to Italy to clear out his head and avoid the coming troubles from a recent bar fight. There he meets an enchanting young Italian girl named Louise (Nadia Hilker) who is a student and scientist conducting studies in evolution and genetics (pssst…never a good sign). It becomes obvious early on that there is something very different about Louise and as Evan falls deeper in love with the mysterious young woman, he has no idea how dangerous his love for her may become.

Written by Justin Benson and co-directed with Aaron Moorhead, this is a very different and sometimes very moving horror/romance. There are a number of things that make this work far better than you might expect and one is the establishing of a legitimate and very sweet love story between the displaced Evan and the beguiling Louise. If this were an indie romance, it would still have worked just fine. The filmmakers add a very disturbing twist to Louise, though, that will definitely bring chills when the side effects of her condition/true nature make themselves known. The FX portraying these effects are another reason this works so well. What we are shown ranges from the subtly chilling to outright shocking. There is also violent behavior that sometimes accompanies these changes and thus we do fear for Evan…even though we also want the two to be together…because, again, the love story aspect works so well. It’s gives the viewer some refreshingly mixed feelings. We can’t decide how we want this to work out. It makes for a very offbeat, engaging and disturbing movie. More elements in the plus column are an atmospheric soundtrack by Jimmy Laville and some lush cinematography of the Italian locations by co-director Moorehead.

Yet another factor that makes this work, is the cast. Pucci’s Evan comes across as a guy who has been hardened by some tough road walked and yet he stills seems to be a good man at heart. He’s likable and seems to have found something here in Italy that he has been looking for all his life and it’s not just Louise. As for his paramour, German actress Nadia Hilker is perfect as the beautiful, enchanting, mystery girl with a dark secret. Not only is Miss Hilker the stuff of romantic fantasy, but is dead-on in playing the emotional turmoil of a woman who has a unique and sometimes dangerous condition yet, very human desires and emotions. She’s enigmatic, frisky, feisty and sexy, yet tragically sad and definitely a touch dangerous. A huge factor that this movie works as good as it does is the perfect casting of it’s leading lady. She even handles some potentially silly dialog with a sincerity and earnestness that makes it click.

It’s not perfect. When Louise finally explains what is going on with her, it is a bit out there and tough to swallow. It requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, but good work by the cast and the deftness of it’s handling by the directors wins out over a potential story collapse. Also, when Evan finally finds out what is going on by walking in during one of Louise’s “instances”, he accepts her preposterous sounding explanation and comes to terms with it a little too quickly even after he witnesses something out of a nightmare. He decides to stay by her side even with that very unbelievable explanation and does so a little too easily. It far from ruins the film, but there should have been a little more evidence of torn emotions before he decides he loves her enough to deal with her as she is. Then again, in a weird way, this is a sort of fairy tale, a disturbing, reverse Beauty and The Beast, if you will, so, from that perspective we can accept it easier, as fairy tales are exactly that…even dark ones.

A very bold, unique and offbeat film from Benson and Moorehead. One that is sweet and romantic one minute and disturbing and violent the next. Skilled direction and great work by the cast make it work far better than it should and work very well at that. Add in that Nadia Hilker is absolutely crush-worthy even when in not quite human form and no matter how slimy, spiny or gory things get, we never stop rooting for Evan and Louise to make it together. A refreshingly different and very affecting horror/romance.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 bunnies…don’t ask…

spring rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: EVIL DEAD and THE LORDS OF SALEM

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I’ve covered these two movies before but, as I recently named them as my top 2 favorite horrors of 2013, I decided to watch them together and found they made quite a chilling double feature so, if you are looking for an evening of frights and chills on the couch, why not give these two a try together…

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EVILD DEAD (2013)

The original Evil Dead is one of my all time favorite fright flicks so, I was very apprehensive about a remake. With Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert and even Bruce Campbell on board as producers, I hoped the material would at least be treated with respect. Now having seen this new vision of one of the all time horror classics, I can say not only was the material treated with respect but, it is one of the best horror remakes and one hell of a nasty, scary, bloody blast. The best thing is that co-writer and first time director Fede Alvarez smartly takes the basic premise and does his own thing with it. This version has heroine addict, Mia (Suburgatory’s Jane Levy) being taken by big brother, David (Skateland’s Shiloh Fernandez) and 3 friends to an old family cabin to try to get Mia to quit her habit cold turkey. But, someone has been in the cabin since they were last there and something gruesome has definitely gone on inside with blood stains and dozens of dead animals hanging in the cellar. Of course there is also a mysterious book and within it ominous warnings that certain words not be read aloud… so, of course, someone does… and at the same time Mia is alone in the woods… uh, oh… I don’t need to tell you that soon Mia is possessed by some horrible demonic entity and the gruesome blood soaked nightmare begins as the ancient evil wants to claim them all. Alvarez really crafts a strong, gruesome and scary horror of the likes we haven’t seen in a while. It’s vicious and nasty with top notch gore and make-up that is done the old fashioned way without any CGI. When limbs fly… and they do, it is good old fashioned prosthetics and I loved the lack of CGI when it came to the ghouls and gore. Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues (Diablo Cody was supposedly hired to work on the script but, if she was credited, I missed it.) basically give us enough elements of the original to make it recognizable as an Evil Dead flick and thus fits in with the series but, makes the flick it’s own animal. And that’s the way to do a remake like this. And Alvarez is the real deal who knows how to make a good old fashioned horror movie complete with suspense, tension and intensity, not to mention, plentiful scares. He also gives the film a strong atmosphere and I really liked his visual style. He gets good work from his cast too, especially leading lady Levy whose character has a few stages to go through from heroine addict to a demon possessed creature to… well, you’ll have to see the flick to find out. Shiloh Fernandez is also very good, after a lifeless performance in Red Riding Hood, he shows us the actor we saw in Skateland was no fluke. The rest, Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric, Jessica Lucas as Olivia and Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie, do fine making their characters more then demon fodder and they are all likable enough to make us afraid for them when all hell breaks loose.  The flick is not perfect but, any flaws are minor and can be overlooked due to all that is done right. Evil Dead 2013 may not be as groundbreaking as the original and only time will tell if it will be highly regard like it’s predecessor but, it is a strong, visceral horror that gives equal parts suspense and scares with all the goo and gore. Maybe not quite a classic but, a film worthy of the title Evil Dead. Well done!… and stay to watch after the credits!

Check out our look back at the original classic that started it all!… HERE!

A very solid 3 and 1/2 demon possessed sitcom stars

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THE LORDS OF SALEM (2013)

If Stanley Kubrick, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci got drunk and decided to make a horror movie together, Lords Of Salem would probably be close to what you’d get. Even back in the White Zombie days, rocker/director Rob Zombie has always shown a heavy influence from movies, especially horror so, it’s no surprise to see such influences in his films. And this time, Zombie sheds the 70s grind-house style that his earlier films have had and goes for something that evokes the work of the previously mentioned filmmakers and also some of the 70s occult themed flicks like the infamous Mark Of The Devil. To a degree, it is Zombie’s most solid effort as director but, also his most experimental as Lords gets downright head trippy and surreal at times, especially in it’s last act. If you liked his dream sequences in Halloween 2, there’s lots more where that came from. Today’s impatient audiences weaned on cookie cutter horrors and endless sequels may not appreciate what Zombie has done here but, to me it was a disturbing breath of fresh air. In a time of CGI phantoms and overused jump scares, I really like that Zombie had the courage to make something that aims to simply unsettle and disturb you with it’s atmosphere and imagery and doesn’t rely on cheap scares and elaborate post production hocus-pocus. Lords tells the creepy story of late night Salem DJ Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) who receives a wooden box with a record in it from someone referring to themselves simply as “The Lords”. When she plays the vinyl album she suddenly starts to have increasingly disturbing hallucinations and her life starts to spiral out of control. When author Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison) begins to investigate, he finds that an ancient evil in the form of a devil worshiping witch coven, once burned at the stake, may be returning to Salem and Heidi might be key to their vengeance. Director/writer Zombie tells his disturbing tale with a deliberately slow burn yet, never at any moment does he ease up on the atmosphere that something sinister and very wrong is going on here. Whether it’s the haunting visuals that he fills the film with or the excellent use of Griffin Boice and John 5’s score… which evoked Fabio Frizzi and Goblin at times… the film oozes atmosphere and keeps us involved even if the film’s narrative flow doesn’t always follow a tradition path. And as for the visuals, they range from haunting to shocking and as disturbing as they can be, they are also beautiful. This is certainly, at the very least, a visually striking film. And despite all the shocking imagery, I actually feel Zombie showed some restraint at times which made the horror elements all the more horrifying when they arrive. And Rob is not the only Zombie to watch here, Sheri, who proved she had some acting chops as Deborah Myers, is again very effective here as Heidi, a woman with emotional troubles and past bad habits who is being drawn into a living nightmare that she is not equipped to fight. Jeff Daniel Phillips is also good playing one of the two Hermans who DJ with her, a man with feelings for Heidi who tries to help her without knowing the true cause of her emotional down-turn. And Zombie also peppers his film with genre vets like Ken Foree (the other Herman), Meg Foster, Sid Haig and the effectively spooky trio of Dee Wallace, Patricia Quinn and Judy Geeson as Heidi’s neighbors, who are more then they appear. Overall Zombie has created his most interesting work yet and one that won’t appeal to everyone. It evokes a type of horror in the vein of Argento’s early films or Fulci’s The Beyond, that they don’t make anymore. But, that’s why I liked it so much. Zombie remembers a time before the MTV generation when horror films took their time to draw you in and had loads of atmosphere. He also knows, like those films, that there is a time to shock you too, and he does that well. And finally, he knows that sometimes the best way to make sure you leave the theater spooked is to not wrap everything up in a neat little bow and thus leave you looking over your shoulder when you are home at night. I would recommend this film highly for those who don’t mind a slow burn and a splash of avant garde with their horror. Not perfect but, a really spooky flick for those that can appreciate it.

A very spooky and disturbing  3 and 1/2 haunted heroines

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: EVIL DEAD 2013 and CABIN IN THE WOODS

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I admit I’ve covered these two films here already at the Movie Madhouse but, I watched this double feature last night and had a bloody good time with it so, I thought I’d share. They make a great double bill!

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EVILD DEAD (2013)

The original Evil Dead is one of my all time favorite fright flicks so, I was very apprehensive about a remake. With Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert and even Bruce Campbell on board as producers, I hoped the material would at least be treated with respect. Now having seen this new vision of one of the all time horror classics, I can say not only was the material treated with respect but, it is one of the best horror remakes and one hell of a nasty, scary, bloody blast. The best thing is that co-writer and first time director Fede Alvarez smartly takes the basic premise and does his own thing with it. This version has heroine addict, Mia (Suburgatory’s Jane Levy) being taken by big brother, David (Skateland’s Shiloh Fernandez) and 3 friends to an old family cabin to try to get Mia to quit her habit cold turkey. But, someone has been in the cabin since they were last there and something gruesome has definitely gone on inside with blood stains and dozens of dead animals hanging in the cellar. Of course there is also a mysterious book wrapped in barbed wire and within it ominous warnings that certain words not be read aloud… so, of course, someone does… and at the same time Mia is alone in the woods… uh, oh… I don’t need to tell you that soon Mia is possessed by some horrible demonic entity and the gruesome blood soaked nightmare begins as the ancient evil wants to claim them all. Alvarez really crafts a strong, gruesome and scary horror of the likes we haven’t seen in a while. It’s vicious and nasty with top notch gore and make-up that is done the old fashioned way without any CGI. When limbs fly… and they do, it is good old fashioned prosthetics and I loved the lack of CGI when it came to the ghouls and gore. Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues (Diablo Cody was supposedly hired to work on the script but, if she was credited, I missed it.) basically give us enough elements of the original to make it recognizable as an Evil Dead flick and thus fits in with the series but, makes the flick it’s own animal. And that’s the way to do a remake like this. And Alvarez is the real deal who knows how to make a good old fashioned horror movie complete with suspense, tension and intensity, not to mention, plentiful scares. He also gives the film a strong atmosphere and I really liked his visual style. He gets good work from his cast too, especially leading lady Levy whose character has a few stages to go through from heroine addict to a demon possessed creature to… well, you’ll have to see the flick to find out. Shiloh Fernandez is also very good, after a lifeless performance in Red Riding Hood, he shows us the actor we saw in Skateland was no fluke. The rest, Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric, Jessica Lucas as Olivia and Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie, do fine making their characters more then demon fodder and they are all likable enough to make us afraid for them when all hell breaks loose.  The flick is not perfect but, any flaws are minor and can be overlooked due to all that is done right. Evil Dead 2013 may not be as groundbreaking as the original and only time will tell if it will be highly regard like it’s predecessor but, it is a strong, visceral horror that gives equal parts suspense and scares with all the goo and gore. Maybe not quite a classic but, a film worthy of the title Evil Dead. Well done!… and stay to watch after the credits!

Check out our look back at the original classic that started it all!… HERE!

A very solid 3 and 1/2 demon possessed sitcom stars

EvilDead_Rating

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cabin in the woods

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012) 

The Cabin In The Woods was originally filmed in 2009 but, wasn’t released due to financial problems at it’s original studio, MGM. The film was finally released by Lionsgate in 2012 after an almost 3 year wait… and worth the wait it was!

If anyone knows how to have fun with pop culture horror conventions, it’s Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) and he and Director Drew Goddard craft a funhouse of a horror movie by doing just that… and we are happily along for the bloody fun ride. Cabin is a movie where the less you know going in, the better… so, I’ll simply say that it starts out with the classic “5 young partiers heading up to an isolated cabin” scenario and then turns this horror sub-genre into something quite different and deviously fun. Aside from a really clever script, Cabin benefits from the fact that Drew Goddard knows how to craft suspense and scares, despite letting us in early on what is going on. We also get a bunch of likable characters to root and care for and the cast is as likable as the characters they play. This is very important to make a horror flick work and so many films today makes their leads unlikable jerks who we could care less about. We are only scared when we care what happens to the antagonists and here we do. From plucky heroine Dana (Kristen Connolly) to hunky Curt (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth) to stoner Marty (Fran Kranz), we really like all five characters and it adds to the film’s effect that we don’t want to see them suffer the fate that has befallen them. And what a clever and cruel fate Whedon and Goddard have in store for their victims. And, in turn, providing a clever and inventive blood-soaked horror for all of us. The FX are top notch and the performances from his cast, especially leading heroine Connolly, are all good and help make the wicked scenario work. The script provides plenty of scares and gore but, also gives us some tension-relieving laughs with Whedon’s trademark sly humor. Everything is blended together well by director Goddard, who gets us primed and ready for the “all hell breaks loose” final act. And that is a blood spattered treat, let me tell you! A real horror movie blast! Also stars Jesse Williams as Holden, Anna Hutchison as Jules and a really fun surprise cameo that I won’t spoil here! One of the most inventive and fun horror movies in quite a long time! Highly recommended!

3 and 1/2 cabins!

cabin in the woods rating

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REVIEW: EVIL DEAD (2013)

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EVIL DEAD (2013)

The original Evil Dead is one of my all time favorite fright flicks, so I was very apprehensive about a remake. With Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert and even Bruce Campbell on board as producers, I hoped the material would at least be treated with respect. Now having seen this new vision of one of the all-time horror classics, I can say not only was the material treated with respect, but it is one of the best horror remakes and one hell of a nasty, scary, bloody blast. The best thing is that co-writer and first time director Fede Alvarez smartly takes the basic premise and does his own thing with it.

This version has heroine addict, Mia (Suburgatory’s Jane Levy) being taken by big brother, David (Skateland’s Shiloh Fernandez) and three friends to an old family cabin to try to get Mia to quit her habit cold turkey. But, someone has been in the cabin since they were last there and something gruesome has definitely gone on inside, with blood stains and dozens of dead animals hanging in the cellar. Of course there is also a mysterious book and within it, ominous warnings that certain words not be read aloud…so, of course, someone does…and at the same time Mia is alone in the woods…uh, oh…I don’t need to tell you that soon Mia is possessed by some horrible demonic entity and the gruesome blood-soaked nightmare begins as the ancient evil wants to claim them all.

Alvarez really crafts a strong, gruesome and scary horror of the likes we haven’t seen in a while. It’s vicious and nasty with top notch gore and make-up that is done the old fashioned way without any CGI. When limbs fly…and they do, it is good old fashioned prosthetics and I loved the lack of CGI when it came to the ghouls and gore. Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues (Diablo Cody was supposedly hired to work on the script but, if she was credited, I missed it.) basically give us enough elements of the original to make it recognizable as an Evil Dead flick and thus fits in with the series, but makes the flick it’s own animal…and that’s the way to do a remake like this. Alvarez is the real deal, who knows how to make a good old fashioned horror movie complete with suspense, tension and intensity, not to mention, plentiful scares. He also gives the film a strong atmosphere and I really liked his visual style.

He gets good work from his cast too, especially leading lady Levy whose character has a few stages to go through from heroine addict to a demon possessed creature to…well, you’ll have to see the flick to find out. Shiloh Fernandez is also very good, after a lifeless performance in Red Riding Hood, he shows us the actor we saw in Skateland was no fluke. The rest, Lou Taylor Pucci (Spring) as Eric, Jessica Lucas as Olivia and Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie, do fine making their characters more than demon fodder and they are all likable enough to make us afraid for them when all hell breaks loose.

The flick is not perfect but, any flaws are minor and can be overlooked due to all that is done right. Evil Dead 2013 may not be as groundbreaking as the original and only time will tell if it will be highly regard like it’s predecessor, but it is a strong, visceral horror that gives equal parts suspense and scares with all the goo and gore. Maybe not quite a classic, but a film worthy of the title Evil Dead. Well done!… and stay to watch after the credits!

Check out our look back at the original classic that started it all!… HERE!

A very solid 3 and 1/2 demon possessed sitcom stars

EvilDead_Rating