Today's Pick: The Evil Dead Trilogy (1981 - 1992)
While I may not have loved the most recent entry in the Evil Dead franchise as much as everyone else seemed to (my review), I still found it to be a fresh nugget of gory fun in a cinema landscape dominated by found footage and overwhelming seriousness. Still, it never came close to matching the unfettered dementia and unashamed glee of the original film. Much like The Addams Family duology, I couldn't decide on one film to recommend. Since I only have my own rules and regulations to go by, I'm saying, "Fuck it," and telling you to watch all three films in one day. Yeah, they're that good.
I actually think I'm in the minority when it comes to this trilogy, because my favorite entry is the first one. There's such raw talent and energy on display that I can't help but get swept up in its scrappy charm. It didn't hurt that I read the excellent The Evil Dead Companion by Bill Warren after seeing the film, which gave me a humongous amount of respect for what went into making The Evil Dead a reality. It's amazing that the movie even got made, let alone that it was an extremely well-crafted piece of spook-a-blast entertainment.
While the first film may be my favorite, I can't deny the appeal and mastery at work in Evil Dead II. It's really more of a remake than a true sequel, but that (and a better budget) allows the film to go bigger and crazier than the first could have ever dreamed of going. The retooling of the story also allows Bruce Campbell's Ash to become a more fleshed out character, and to transform over the course of the film into the one-liner spouting, chainsaw-armed, boomstick bringer of Deadite death we would come to love.
Which brings us to Army of Darkness. This was actually the first film in the series I saw. I was about eleven or twelve and rented it on the recommendation of a friend. It was the perfect movie to get me into the world and style of Sam Raimi, and it's still a film I can revisit and enjoy like I'm seeing it for the first time. It blows my mind that the film has an R-rating, because this is a film tailor-made for kids. The mix of fantasy and comedy with the dressings of horror (skeletons, monsters and evil doppelgangers) will win over any child with an imagination for such simple pleasures.
A lot of people will argue that Star Wars or Back to the Future is the best film trilogy in cinema. With a few exceptions (Romero's original Dead trilogy and The Lord of the Rings), I always argue that Evil Dead surpasses them all. It's a series where each entry works perfectly on its own, but watching them all informs the entire experience in even more joyous ways. If you have to spend a whole day watching some movies this October, you cannot go wrong with these.
Tomorrow, we visit a different cabin in the woods. ...No, not that one. I did that last year! See you tomorrow!
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31 Days of Drew (2013)