The other night I watched The Frankenstein Theory. Why? I have no idea. I shouldn’t want to watch it, after all, it has all the things I loathe about current horror movies: a group of five to seven young people become isolated and are stalked by something horrible? Check! Abuse of the “found footage format?” Check! Weak characters that nobody cares about because they’re all going to die? Check! But wait! There’s more!
Today, my creepy lil’ kiddies, I’m going talk about the Evil Dead. You have nothing to fear. This is 100% spoiler free.
It’s not The Evil Dead. It lacks the slapstick silliness, cheap ickiness and originality of Raimi’s movie. It’s billed by the film’s producers (which includes Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, more on that later) as the scariest movie ever made. Nope. Evil Dead isn’t that.
When I was a kid, I used to have the most horrendous nightmares. I would wake up in the night, paralyzed with fear. Even now I recall wandering the nightmare version of the street we lived on, knowing that once again I was to be stalked and torn apart. Every night I would go to bed. I would enter the murky, disordered world of dreams. I would be chased. I would hide. It always ended badly, an arm or leg painfully torn from its socket. I’d wake up gasping for air.
History is filled with people who’ve had good ideas and people who‘ve had bad ideas. Edward Jenner’s development of the small pox vaccine was a good idea. The alphabet was a good idea. The wheel was a good idea. Conversely, Gouverneur Morris jabbing a whale bone up his pee-hole to clear a blockage in his urinary tract was a bad idea. Invading Russia, showering with a hair dryer, Sarah Palin are all examples of bad ideas. Following in the footstep of those great bad ideas is 2006’s Night of the Living Dead 3D.
Imagine that Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining is Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. Continuing with that analogy, imagine digging through the fridge a week later looking for leftovers. You find one last slice of dry white meat and a glob of congealed gravy in a Tupperware container labeled “The Off Season.” Yeah. This movie is like the old leftovers of another, better movie.
In the age before home video, when cable consisted of a mere twenty channels & HBO, a much younger me would scour the TV Guide as soon as it came, in search of all the monster movies that would be playing that week. If you didn’t catch them when they were one, you didn’t catch them at all. So imagine my joy when I found that Laserblast was playing on channel 26 that Saturday afternoon. The description promised creatures from outer space and a teenager on a murderous rampage with evil alien laser cannon. Doing the happy dance, I tuned in with a smile on my lips and a song in heart. It was going to be monster joy and mayhem.
By 1943, Universal studios had changed hands from the founding Laemmle family and recast itself as Universal International. The studio’s cycle of classic horror films, which began two decades earlier in the silent era, was coming to a close; its best films gone by. Can you imagine fright fans of the day anticipating the release of a new Phantom of the Opera film, in color no less?