A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing through my Facebook news feed when I came upon a post that brightened my day: the announcement of the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD release of Evil Dead (2013)! My husband and I went to see it in theaters a couple of months ago, and it is hands down one of the best horror movies I have seen in a long time! We consider ourselves to be hardcore horror fans and it scared the heck out of both of us!
As I scrolled down in the post, I could not help but notice the very mixed reactions to the movie. There is an unofficial rule in the world of horror fandom, which states that you cannot truly consider yourself a horror fan until you have seen The Evil Dead (1981). Since the theatrical debut of Evil Dead (2013), there has been a lot of debate as to which film is “better”- the original or the remake (I use the term loosely, since the movie is intended to be more of a sequel than a remake). Some feel that the original cannot be topped, while others consider the remake to be an improvement over the 1981 version. To those on both sides, I say this: why can’t we all just get along? Both movies are awesome in their own ways.
It seems to me that remakes are automatically doomed to criticism from the start. If they are too similar to their predecessors, they are condemned as unoriginal rip-offs. If they follow their own creative path, they are criticized for not being true to the originals. It is a given that any remake is going to be viewed and judged in comparison to its earlier model(s), but it is also important to view it as a separate, individual work.
The Evil Dead (1981) is a great movie. It is a cult classic and is largely responsible for the “cabin in the woods” cliché seen in so many horror films. Although it may have been considered scary in its day, today it falls more into the campy horror category (although I must say, those demons are pretty creepy!). One of the main complaints of people who disapprove of the remake (aside from the fact that the iconic Ash is not in it) is lack of the self-ridiculing humor that defines the original (“We can’t bury Shelly! She’s a friend of ours!”). This is a major stylistic difference, but that does not have to be a bad thing.
The remake is a straight-up horror movie. It follows its own path and completely abandons the camp-style of its predecessor (trust me when I say there is absolutely nothing funny about this movie!). Deviation from the original formula is a positive thing (if it is done well) – why would anyone want to watch an exact replica of the original film? The remake does retain some of the beloved aspects of the original, namely oodles of gore and the Book of the Dead (and yes, there is a chainsaw!). That having been said, it is unfair to criticize the remake based on the fact that it is not exactly the same as the original…if it were, there would be no point in watching it.
The bottom line: I love the original, but I am also counting down the days until the Blu-ray release of the remake.