Paul vs. Remy on Evil Dead

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Remy: The reality is as odd as I may be, Paul and I share pretty much the exact same thoughts on the exact same things. Outside of him not liking Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, him and I have been uniform on games and on movies. Until this week (cue the DUH DUH DUUUUH dramatic music). In case you are all wondering what I am getting at, Paul gave the Evil Dead remake a 2.5, which equates to a C grade. I saw that and wept a little. But when I saw he thought of some of this films violence was torture porn I felt compelled to write him and beg for an UNREALITY DEBATE about Evil Dead

Paul is a laid-back cat, so he was like: No problemo, let’s do this, and here we are.

So first, I have to ask you, (with all due respect because you are the coolest boss I’ve ever had) why did you think of the (extreme) violence in this movie as torture porn?


Paul: I guess the definition of “torture porn” might be a loose one. You can have extremely violent scenes in movies like Drive or A History of Violence, but it works within those films and is not the focus. Rather, the ENTIRE focus of Evil Dead is on the gore, not the characters or the story. When violence is the sole focus of a film, that’s when it veers into torture porn territory. The violence was far and away the most technically impressive part of the film, but I want a movie to have more than that in order to hold my interest. The original Evil Dead(s) had a splash of dark comedy and Bruce Campbell as a lead you rooted for. The new Evil Dead has neither of those.

Why do you think the violence wasn’t torture porn? And didn’t the complete lack of humor or likable characters bother you? Though perhaps that’s a loaded question.

Remy: I guess my thoughts on torture porn have spun directly off the time period when “horror” movies seemed to FOCUS on that. Movies like Saw, Turistas, and Hostel, where it was palpable, realistic violence from one human to another, just for the sake of violence, often with one member of the party bound or restrained whilst being tortured. Those types of movies are not enjoyable to me, because they just feel too real and cruel, but Evil Dead was not that to me at all. This was evil (it’s right there in the title!), demons, darkness, possessing people with the intent of doing whatever it takes to take them out, one by one. Rather than torture porn, I found the violence to be, honestly, incredible.

It WAS Evil Dead, minus the camp (and the campiness was ONLY in place because Sam Raimi had a limited budget, and if you watch 70s horror films, a great deal of them come across with that campiness, which is more a reflection of the time than anything else). Did the series UP that campiness and embrace it years after fans did? Yes, but I don’t feel like the first movie works BECAUSE it was campy, I think it works because it is honestly creepy. If you think of the violence in terms of the original film, it upholds the EXACT same vision. Friends taken out, one by one, in the most twisted ways possible. It just tones down the cheese, which, to me, makes it that much more effective.
And honestly, the “pencil in the ankle” scene in the original is about as gory and realistic looking as anything in the new film.
And regarding the characters, truth is, I liked Mia. Was I not supposed to because she was a drug addict? I liked her strength and thought the fear she conveyed after her forest scene was some of the best “palpable fear” I have ever seen on screen. Did I like anyone else, Hell no, but I wasn’t supposed to. That beauty was, they fed us those people as fodder (ignoring her cries for help when she was in danger and blaming the drugs, when she was clearly IN DANGER was meant to separate us from “liking” or relating to the other people, because that is why they were not strong enough to prevail, yet Mia was.
And the fact that I hated them, and they all got taken out in such gruesome, unforgettable ways just felt perfect to me.
So that leads to my next question: Using the heroine withdrawal and the intervention was AS BRILLIANT a move as they could make. It worked incredibly well, and while most can’t relate to that, it gave the story legs, and in essence, more to work off of. I think it was a huge step, but did you think it detracted?
Also, thoughts on all the fan service, which was SUPER well implemented. When I saw the car from the original with Mia sitting on the hood, I squealed, because that is proof these movies are taking place in the same universe, on different timelines.
Also, thoughts on the final post-credit cameo?
Paul: I’ll give you Mia. I didn’t *like* her character per say, but I thought she was a good character nonetheless. I’m mixed on the drug angle. It gave the story more dimension than the typical “teens come to a cabin for a sex romp” storyline we’ve seen too many times. But it also allowed them to play up the “it’s not demon’s, it’s just drug withdrawl!” angle for a long, long time. Then they added in a mentally unstable mother just in case we needed a few more scenes of disbelief.
I’m not sure if the movies are literally taking place in the same universe, just one in the ’80s and one now. I think the car was a nice homage, but I don’t necessarily know if that was proof. Were there other clues I missed? If that was the case, shouldn’t the red chainsaw not have been there at all? In any case, I don’ think they had to be taking place chronologically, though that would have been cool. If you can find more proof of that, I’m all ears.
I actually missed that final post credits scene. I didn’t realize Evil Dead was the type of movie to have you stay after the credits. But from what I hear, it was fun, though perhaps it serves to remind us how different the movies really are. Anyone saying “groovy” in this movie would have been dramatically out of place.
I don’t know, I think it’s hard to strip the camp out of Evil Dead and still have it be Evil Dead. The movie was more than just a bunch of core and a cabin and a book. There was an entire feel to it that I felt was missing from this new version. By playing it straight most of the time, when goofy stuff did come up (the demon voices) it felt out of place.
What did you think of how they changed the ending? (Spoiler warning to follow!) Better, worse, or just different?

Remy: I thought the car was a definite nod. Mia had a Michigan State shirt on (where original film takes place). The scene where the brother builds the defibrillators was DEFINITELY a nod to Raimi’s style of film making. The fact that they played the original Necrinomicon recording over the end credits (might be grasping for straws on that one). I mean, realistically, it was just fan service, but I am such a fan that every time I saw one of those little touches, I would squeal. I guess in that sense, I was eating out of their hands.

The Campbell nod at the end was fun, yet, in the same breath, was LITERALLY tacked on, and you could kinda feel that. A good source told me this was all a test run. and now that the remake cleaned up, the remake is getting its own sequel, and Army of Darkness is getting an official sequel, and THEN they intend to cross both franchises.I can’t tell you if that’s true, but I can tell you I would be super interested to see how that plays out.
And glad you asked me about the ending. That might be my one, singular complaint. They mishandled the ending of the remake a bit, in my opinion.
First off, the only thing I HATED in the movie was (MAJOR SPOILERS HENCEFORTH) the idea of how he saved Mia, and then seeing that she was, physically, fine, Even the blister she got from the boiling shower was somehow cured. That was silly. The demon may be gone out of the body, but it took away all the damage it did? I felt that a rather massive misstep. And finally, the fact that there was a “final boss” really bothered me. A nondescript naked zombie chick (?) is the final and ultimate evil, and yet, it can be easily killed with a simple human tool on the first try?
Yes, that bothered me. I loved the gore of seeing her get chainsawed in thew face in that final scene, but nothing about that final demon set it apart from any of the others, and, honestly, it was LESS scary than anything else in the film.
BUT, I know they “needed a climax” for the film, and I guess that worked as well as anything else could have, but I think they should have just gone with Mia, sorta being fine, stuck at the cabin with all her (now dead) friends strewn about her, not having any idea what to do next. Like, what would you do? Call the cops and tell them it was demons? For as much reality as the film offered (the drug addiction angle could have made the “cop” angle interesting), that might have been a nice nihilist way to end the movie, but the ending is a small complaint on my part, and the only one I have.
Truthfully, for me it was the little touches that really worked. For example, when all the shit is going on upstairs, the really bad shit, and we see Mia demon in the basement, clapping and giggling to herself with genuine mirth that shit was going South upstairs, little touches like that really sold the film for me.
Where the whole series goes now, who knows, but for what they had to work with, the scope of the fans who WORSHIP the source material, and how well they did considering, I was definitely impressed. I would just like to offer a 4.5 rating (as a horror fan) as an alternative to your 2.5. I do understand that the movie was a f*cking bloodbath, and I can respect if people don’t enjoy that, but for me, this was like the best of the 200 era extreme horror (think Inside and Martyrs) meets 1970s horror, and the little sadistic kid in me could not have been happier.

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  1. Good debate. To me I’m somewhere in the middle. While it had a torture porn feel to it, it also had some good classic horror moments. But overall, I felt the movie was kind of Meh. So, I think Paul’s 2.5 rating is fairly accurate.

    I think the best nods back to the original were the super smooth moves that both Mia and her brother made at random. Mia when she bumps the shelf to knock down the gasoline to fall right into her hands and her brother when he kicks the shotgun, near the end, and it spins directly into his hands ready to fire. Those scenes were very Ash-esque.

  2. [spoilers] While I can see how having a “final boss” just be a regular sized demon chick can come off as lame, I think it was the right choice. If you were following the movie closely along the lines of the drug metaphor, it makes sense that the real demon she has to face is herself, once all of her loved ones have paid the ultimate price for trying to help her. Also, the jeep tipping on her arm, forcing her to rip it off to escape, is the real climax (from the heroin addict perspective anyway).

    What wasn’t the right choice was that “Grudgy” clicking sound the demon made. ugh.

  3. Oh! And one fanservice nod that I haven’t seen any review notice yet is the pendant laying on the ground with its chain shaped like a skull. Blink and you’ll miss it. Quick and subtle. Awesome.

  4. They couldn’t make a movie like evil dead 2 these days. If they did, it would have been a joke.

    I don’t remember the last time I was actually scared during a movie. I remember being pretty freaked out watching Jurassic Park in the theaters, then again I was in 3rd or 4th grade.

  5. I like this format, gentlemen. Normally, I tell people arguing on the internet they are both wrong, but in this case you are both kinda right. Except, I think Carreiro is right on the “torture porn” thing. Violence and torture are not the same. But Tassi is mostly correct that violence is the only real thing the film had going for it since the characters were pretty standard.

    I’m in the middle, personally. I thought that the sheer brutality of the film was admirable, the opening scene and heroin-addict angle were inspired, and that little smile Mia gave in the car when they found the river flooded was the single creepiest thing I’ve seen in a good while. But the last act was lame. All of that build-up about the entity being summoned and all it is is another goddamn generic deadite? Talk about anti-climactic.

    I did not want a happy ending. Missed the post-credits too since I was running late and my family was waiting on me to go out to dinner. And to think I was actually pleased they avoided a “wink wink!” Campbell cameo. I was kind of expecting him to play an old man at a gas station on the way to the cabin or something. Anyways, I wasn’t expecting something to live up to the original, just a decent horror flick and I got that so no worries.

  6. Yeah, truth be told, HUGE props to Paul for allowing me to debate his review. There are viraully NO editors out there who allot their writers the freedom Paul does, and that reflects itself in him allowing me a voice for this piece. It’s funny, though I debated his points, I definitely saw much more clearer what he was saying once we finished the debate, so in that sense, I think it opened both our eyes.
    Really glad you guys dug it, though, was a blast to back-and-forth with Paul about this, fo sho!

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