Friday, January 6, 2023

The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Horror

When it comes to talking about what the best horror franchise is, I think we're at the point where we might have to say that, if we're talking about longevity and consistency of quality, Evil Dead is the hands down champ. What else can compete with it? Of everything out there, the Chucky franchise is the strongest contender. With Chucky you've got seven feature films, all of them at least decent, with several being classics, and then two seasons of a TV series (with hopefully more to come) that didn't hold back on the horror and also deepened and expanded on the series' mythology.

But then there's Evil Dead, which, like Chucky, has never stopped kicking ass. The slight edge that I feel it has over Chucky is that it is has become a double layered franchise. You have the aspect of it that was driven by Bruce Campbell as Ash and that alone would be enough. With that, you've got three classics films and a TV series that didn't have a single dud episode in three glorious seasons. 

Now there's also the latest feature incarnations - the 2013 reboot and the upcoming Evil Dead Rise - that go back to the roots of Evil Dead. Some fans balk at these, I guess because they can't wrap their head around Evil Dead without Ash, but I love that they've reclaimed the OG soul of Evil Dead.

Billed by Sam Raimi as the "ultimate experience in grueling horror," no one thought of The Evil Dead as campy or jokey before the sequels changed the tone of the series. As much as I love Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, I never liked that they had retroactively caused the original, which had been received as one of the most hardcore horror films of the '80s, to be seen in a mostly comedic light. 

Because of that, I love that Raimi, Campbell and Rob Tapert have been able to bring Evil Dead back to symbolizing full on, balls out horror. Had they tried to recast Ash as a way to keep the franchise going, that would have been a massive mistake. Much better to return to telling gore soaked possession tales and reestablish Evil Dead as a brand that isn't dependent on a specific character.

Had some shady corporate hands yanked the franchise away from Raimi, Campbell and Tapert, I would be vehemently against whatever was done with it but these guy are Evil Dead. This has been their baby for over forty years and if they want to pivot it back to what it initially was and shepherd some nasty new visions of that world, then cool.

With the MPA being much more horror friendly than it was in the '80s, R-rated Evil Dead movies can go every bit as hard as the unrated Evil Dead did back in the day. I'm still stunned by how much Fede Alvarez got away with with his 2013 ED and Lee Cronin looks to match it with Rise. I just hope Raimi and co. start to deliver these at a faster clip because ten years between Evil Dead movies is way too long. Now that Evil Dead Rise is set to move things out from the traditional cabin in the woods, I hope we can get an Evil Dead on a cruise ship or even Evil Dead on a plane. I mean, after all, ships and planes do have cabins of their own. 

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