Every year, I try to incorporate horror classics that I’ve never seen to my annual Halloween marathon. I’m not that new to horror but I am still working my way through the classics, I only just watched The Shining for the first time last year! This year however, since I literally have nothing else to do because like most of humanity, I’m stuck inside, I decided to make it my mission to watch as many iconic horror flicks as possible. Out of the ones I’ve watched so far, the Evil Dead movies have truly been something else.
Truth be told, I genuinely confused every single movie with the word “dead” in the title. I didn’t know if this had zombies or demonic hyjinks. I basically went into this trilogy as blind as possible. All that I knew about it was that one scene where mirror Bruce Campbell grabs real Bruce Campbell. That’s literally it. I watch The Evil Dead (1981) and I get the jist, a cabin in the midst of a demonic forest where possesed people attack at night. I liked a lot of the visual choices and it’s definitely a great concept but overall I couldn’t care less about the campy characters and I wasn’t really all that invested. I did hear that the sequel was better so I thought ‘why not’. A few minutes in and I’m already obsessed, I love the sequel and basically every decision it takes and with that cliffhanger ending I had no choice but to complete the trilogy with Army of Darkness (1992). I didn’t know what to expect with this one but what I got I didn’t like. I felt like it undermined the sequel and shifted into a straight-up comedy.
By the end of this undead journey, I really had no idea how to feel about this trilogy as a whole because each movie is a whole different experience. It lacks cohesiveness in terms of tone and creativity, it’s not a consistent trilogy in that regard. That being said it’s wildly interesting to see a story unfold in such an unusual manner. There isn’t a single constant in the entire trilogy. Campbell’s Ash changes character every movie. In the first movie he’s this nervous wreck who couldn’t bring himself to leave his friends behind. In the sequels they remove his friends and actually tease a personality. It never really gets explored though as he is always running away or chasing something. In the final movie he is this cliched, Jim Carrey/Han Solo mashup. Even the visual language differs with each movie, the first two utilize the most incredible shots to strengthen the horror but the third movie looks and feels intensely average. My point is that every movie is essentially a stand-alone. In fact not even the movie titles connect the trilogy as the last movie drops the Evil Dead name completely.
It’s such a bizarre trilogy that it’s honestly unexplainable as to why they would choose to execute in such a way. The Evil Dead is this cheap, campy horror movie which gets lost in translation in the sequel. In Evil Dead II, it’s a fine line between horror and comedy, often times fusing them both to creature off-putting sequences which work on multiple levels. It is a perfect horror-comedy. In Army of Darkness, the horror gets completely ditched and we get this abnoxiously silly, Looney-Tunes inspired comedy which undermines it’s brilliant predeccesor. It’s even weirder because they work as stand-alone movies, even the third movie but when you put them all together it’s this unexplainable rollercoaster. There’s no need to watch this in chronological order and you don’t even need to watch them all. I know for a fact that I will only be revisiting Evil Dead II but that being said I would also recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen the other two.
I have yet to watch Ash vs Evil Dead because I heard it got cancelled and I don’t want to watch an unresolved story. I will check out the pilot because I am really interested to see where this franchise goes in terms of tone and genre. From what I gathered in the trailer it looks like a mixture of Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. That does sound inviting since I do know what I’m getting into if that’s the case. Also apparently, emphasis on apparently, there is going to be an Evil Dead 4 called Evil Dead Rise with Campbell returning only to produce. I am intrigued by this movie, I hope it sees the light of day and I cannot even begin to imagine what it will look or feel like. Until then, I guess I will be getting my Evil Dead dose from the tv show. If you want to see my first reaction review for each movie, go to my Letterboxd which you can find on this page.