Jolts galore for the jam-packed Arena at WonderCon 2013 in Anaheim, CA, as the Sony Pictures panel for the Evil Dead made its much anticipated appearance. The film, not so much a remake as a reimagining, is looking to take same kind of reins of horror-filled intensity, gore, shocks, and frights as the original did more than 30 years ago, and looking to bridge together generations of fans – those who have been following the original cult smash films and new audiences who will be discovering it for the first time.
Directed by Fede Alvarez, who was handpicked by the original director of the first three films, Sam Raimi, and who also produced with the incomparable and absolute icon of modern horror, Bruce Campbell (who starred as “Ash” in the original trilogy), with Robert Tapert and starring Jane Levy as the main protagonist, the new film looks to scope out a new horizon as the first film did and rightfully take its place in the modern horror pantheon of some of the all- time great stomach-in-knots-cinematic churners.
All of the aforementioned principles, including co-star Jessica Lucas, made up the panel. Hosted by Dalton Ross from EW magazine, hyping the crowd up as he introduced an exclusive trailer for the film, which was creepy as fuck and had every ounce of the gore, sick effects, and macabre charm that gave the original such an allure. Lou Taylor Pucci and the rest of the cast were introduced and then Alvarez. Last but not least came, Campbell, snappy, hilarious and dapper, looking sharp as ever. When asked about the film, Campbell stressed that it wasn’t a sequel, but a remake and also spoke about how important it was to get Alvarez, who knew he was a rabid fan, because in Campbell’s words, Alvarez wouldn’t “shut the fuck up about it.” Alvarez spoke of his future with the franchise, and hoped that when he’s older, having seven films at that point, it would be something he’d be most proud of.
Alvarez, decked out in a leather jacket and Star Wars T-shirt, talked about keeping the rating as an R, which Campbell called, “exuberant and that it wasn’t torture porn,” which he said was “something that made you want to go and kill yourself after you watched.” Alvarez added that the difference as well was that there was a hero in these Evil Dead films. Levy spoke about all the fun torture she had to endure, and that getting buried alive was the ultimate challenge, to which Campbell, with perfect timing, exclaimed, “Big Deal!” She spoke in great length about having to vomit up blood all over her co-star Jessica Lucas and the procedures involved therein. Alvarez stressed how much fun it was to do that, to the delight of the crowd. The other actors in the film on the panel also waxed about how nothing else they had done in their careers compared to the gore festival extreme that the film is. Lou Taylor Pucci spoke about what an amazing awesome trilogy the original is, in which Campbell responded by giving him some money for his “kind” words. During SXSW, there was talk that Sam Raimi was going to make Army of Darkness II, so he said that Fede, for him in a perfect cinematic world, would be the one to fuse the two franchises together ultimately.
Then another exclusive clip was shown from the new Evil Dead, in which Campbell warned that before they ran it, for all the young kids to get the hell out of the Arena before they ran it. The clip was introduced by Sam Raimi, who was pleased that in this remake, he, Campbell, and Robert Tapert were finally able to make the movie they wanted to make over three decades ago. The scene that followed (which was from early on in the film) was a breathless, uncomfortable piece of work, filled with taut editing, slow zooms, and pans, in which the character of Olivia literally self-mulitates herself, before repeatedly stabbing her cabin mate with a needle. The whole sequence scared the living shit out of everyone in the Arena as that archetypical Evil Dead gore factor ran sky high on screen. Ultimately, after viewing the clip, if the rest of the film is anything like this, the remake is sure to stand as one of the early 21st centuries great shockers.
A huge line for Q&A commenced. First up was a guy called Captain Comic-Con, who asked Bruce Campbell if he was going to be in this new film, to which he simply replied, “Yes.” He then thanked Captain Comic-Con in that droll, hilarious manner he’s best known for. When asked what his favorite scene was, he asked Jane Levy, if it was when it ended for her. Someone asked him what it was like coming back to the carnage and he answered that he absolutely relished that the others had to endure the carnage, which cracked up the audience. Fede Alvarez added that there were no rules involved in making this movie, and that the film had to be completely over the top, since that was what he himself gleaned from when he viewed the original productions. But, he stressed, that it was an extremely difficult undertaking to make this film, but ultimately felt that it paid off in the end.
A dynamite panel, which as it did back in October in New York City’s Comic-Con, absolutely stole the show of the myriad panels showcased on this Saturday afternoon in California. It seemed to solidify the opinion for lovers of the horror genre that it should be quite a great and a hold on-to-your-seats good time at the theaters across the country, when Evil Dead opens in April.
Check out our early review of Evil Dead from the 2013 South By Southwest film festival.
[Photo credit: Evil Dead panel photos from 2013 WonderCon in Anaheim, CA, by Andrew Sorcini (Mr. Babyman) for Geeks of Doom.]