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Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Cinema Review

evil deadOh no they’ve remade another classic 80s horror, how dare they sully the memory of this classic film etc. Except that the ‘they’ in this case are the same ‘they’ who made the original film and the original film was put together on a tiny budget with effects that are only amazing if you take the budget limitations into account. If Sam Raimi wants to use this remake as a jumping off point to getting an Army of Darkness sequel made then I am okay with that. As it turns out this sequel delivers in tense gory horror what the original never could.

So the story is the same as in the original film: five friends go to a cabin in the woods but this time the friends are not going to party. Instead they are here to help Mia (Jane Levy) dry out and quit drugs. Mia’s brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) is there to support her and he’s accompanied by his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). Mia has been brought to the cabin by an old friend Olivia (Jessica Lucas who is a nurse and has been trying for a while to get Mia clean. The fifth member of the group is Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), a stuck-up judgemental prick who is the partner of Olivia. What is really Eric problem is that David left home leaving Mia to take care of their terminally ill mother and was never there to support Mia in her grief when their mother died. Another addition to the group is Grampa, the family dog that has been living with David.

The cabin is not just a creepy run-down hut in the middle of nowhere; it is their creepy run-down hut in the middle of nowhere. Mia and David’s mother owned it and the five friends used to come there for a break. They are not happy to discover someone has busted the lock on the front door and left the place in a mess with smell that Mia finds unbearable. Olivia thinks Mia is acting up since she can’t smell anything. Grampa can smell it and he starts scratching at the floor. Underneath a rug the find a trap door down the cellar and when they open it they all smell what Mia smelled.

At the start of the film there was a short scene of an old woman using the evil spell book called the Necronomicon to drive out the evil spirit possessing a young woman. That is who broke into the cabin and what they find down there is a load of dead animals hanging from the ceiling and a support pillar that has been badly burnt. Eric also finds the book wrapped in black plastic and barbed wire and takes it back upstairs with him.

I have no idea why he does it other being an idiot but Eric takes the book to a back room and he snips off the barbed wire and tears off the black plastic. No alarm bells ring in his head as he open the book clearly bound in human skin and sees desperate warnings scrawled all over the pages of the book telling whoever is reading it to not read it not to touch it but leave it alone. On many pages the writing has being obliterated with crayon. This doesn’t put off Eric who uses his Hardy Boy skills to take a pencil rubbing and reveal the text underneath which he reads out as it is revealed.

Mia is outside in the rain trying to cope with pain of withdrawal. As Eric reads the words from the book Mia hears something waking up in the woods. It’s the POV monster and as it rushes through woods Mia gets creeped-out and runs from it. She gets caught in thorn bushes and sees a deadite who infects her with its evil.

Mia tries to warn the others that they have to leave but they are persuaded by Olivia that this is Mia acting up and wanting to go back to her addiction so they don’t listen to her until it’s too late and soon there’s blood and pain as the evil possesses them and they are fighting against their friends for their lives.

This film is a much more straightforward horror than the original with none of the more fantastic effects and mind screw moments. It still manages to keep the violent intensity and thanks to the use physical effects the gore really has that visceral quality that CGI effects cannot yet replicate. I really enjoyed this film though I am not going to say it surpasses the original. There are a few a call outs to the original for fans to look out for. I’d recommend this to any fans of bloody horror and think fans of the original should give it a try

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on April 20, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Evil Dead II

Sam Raimi got to make a sequel a with a bigger budget to his gross-out cult film Evil Dead and this time he really lets loose with the slapstick comedy and yet still delivers an effective horror film.

The opening has been a cause of confusion because it seems to be a recap of the first film only this time with just Ash and Linda at the cabin. This suggests a remake but it’s because they couldn’t get permission to use the footage of the first film so they re-shot it while cutting out the characters who not were not appearing in the sequel anyway.

Ash (Bruce Campbell) and Linda (Denise Bixler) go to the remote cabin in the woods and they have romantic night together, Ash plays the piano while Linda dances. Ash gives Linda a little silver magnifying glass pendant (sort of the size of a monocle). There’s a large tape recorder in the main room next to an old leather-bound book. Ash switches it on and the voice of  archaeologist Professor Raymond Knowby (John Peakes) talks about his discovery of the Necronomicon at his dig at the site of an ancient Sumerian civilisation. He talks about returning to his cabin with his wife Henrietta to start translating the book.He then starts reading the passages phonetically

Outside some thing stirs, the trees groan and mist rises.SamCam, the POV camera monster awakens. It rushes through the woods and smashes right into the cabin window in the side room where Linda is. Ash rushes in but there’s no sign of Linda. He goes outside to look for her but she’s been possessed by the evil force and attacks him. Ash gets knocked down and evil Linda leaps at him. Ash protects himself with spade lying nearby and it slices Linda’s head off. Ash buries Linda’s body

This is the point where sequel really starts. The SamCam monster rushes through woods, crashes through the cabin and seizes Ash, driving him through the trees and dumping him face down in a puddle. When he comes up he’s possessed by the evil. Then it’s dawn and the sun drives the evil out of Ash. He gets in his car a tries to get away but the bridge has been torn up. The sun sets only about five minutes after rising and Ash has to race back the cabin chased by the SamCam monster. He crashes the car ans thrown through the windscreen and runs for the cabin. The SamCam monster crashes through cabin looking for him but it doesn’t find him hiding in the cellar and it retreats again.

Professor Knowby’s daughter has arrived at a small airfield nearby and is met by her boyfriend Ed (Richard Domeier). She has the rest of the pages of the Necronomicon and they are going to the Professor’s cabin.  It makes me wonder what Ash and Linda were doing making themselves at home in a cabin that is clearly occupied.

Ash hears the piano playing by itself. He looks outside and sees Linda’s corpse is dancing to the music and playing with the head . As he watches she vanishes. Ash tries looking through the door for her but she appears right at the door and grabs him through the gaps in the planks of crudely nailed across the door. Then Ash wakes up still sitting in his chair.

As he recovers from the dream Linda’s head drops into his lap and bites him in the crotch. He gets her of his crotch but she has a firm grip on his fingers. He tries to smash her off against walls then he remembers that there’s a tool shed. He sticks the head into a vice and frees his fingers. He looks for a tool and sees the chainsaw is missing. Linda’s boy run into the tool shed waving the chainsaw but Ash fights back and the chainsaw ends up stuck into Linda’s body. Ash chops the body and head up with the chainsaw.

Ash goes back to cabin and has a little run in with his reflection in the mirror. The his right hand turns evil and starts attacking him. This is pure slapstick and Bruce shows a great knack for physical comedy. His hand hits him punches him tries to poker him in the eye and throws him around the room before smashing him with half the kitchen. It knocks him out with a bottle then spots a meat cleaver and drags his unconscious body across the floor. But Bruce is just faking and he pins the hand to the floor with a knife than cackles insanely as he chops the hand off.

Annie and Ed have got to the bridge and found they way blocked by the bridge being torn up. A local man, Jake (Dan Hicks) and his daughter Bobby Joe (Kassie Wesley DePaiva) offer to show them a way up on foot. Jake offers to take Annie’s luggage, thinking she only has a small bag  but finds himself carrying a huge heavy trunk.

Ash’s hand escapes and Ash shoots at it with a shotgun, seemingly hitting it. this results in gallons of blood and  green stuff jetting out the walls drenching Ash then it just vanishs . Everything in the room starts Laughing at Ash then Ash joins in too until his laughter edges into madness. He hears an noise at the door and shoots at it. He has a look outside and gets jumped by Jake and Ed. Jake is especially pissed because he winged Bobby Jo with the shotgun. Then Annie starts on him too wanting to know what he’s done to her parents. Ash pleads it was just a mistake but they dump him in the cellar and lock it down with chains.

Annie turns on the tape recorder. Professor Knowby  is now saying it was a mistake to read out the spell for raising demons since it raised a demon that possessed his wife Henrietta and tried to kill him, forcing him to kill her. Then he says he couldn’t bear to dismember her so he buried her in the cellar. Right on cue Henrietta (Ted Raimi) rises from her grave. Ash naturally freaks and begs to be let out as Henrietta gets closer. they do eventually get the door open and Ash gets away, but Henrietta follows. Ed tries to attack he but he gets knocked out leaving it to Jake and Ash to drive her back down into the cellar. As they slam the door on her head her eyeball pops out and goes right down Bobby Joe’s throat.

Henrietta turns human an begs Annie to let her out but Ash stops for such a blatantly obvious trick. Ed pops up and he’s possessed now and he attacks Hicks. He floats up to Bobby and bites a chunk out of her hair. Ash fetches and axe and he chops Ed to bits.

Things get quiet for a moment but then there are unearthly banging noises coming from all around them. There is a light flickering in the side room. Ash goes to investigate and Annie comes with him. Bobby Jo and Jake soon follow too. The ghostly face of Annie’s father appears tells them he is trapped between dimensions. They need to read spells from the Necronomicon to save themselves.

Bobby Jo complains that Jake is gripping her too tight, but it’s the evil hand. She throws it off and runs screaming out of the cabin and into the woods. The evil woods. The trees grab hold of her and wrap around her, branches peiece through her skin then she is dragged off at high speed straight into a large tree.

In the cabin Annie and Ash are talking about the spells to drive out the evil, Annie says there are two spells, the first cause the evil to physically manifest itself, the second opens a rift to another dimension and sends the evil there. Jake is worried about  Bobby Jo and he uses the shotgun to force Annie and Ash outside to help look for her. He snatches the pages from Annie and throws them down into the cellar.

Outside the woods are hostile and the SamCam monster comes after them. Ash gets possessed and attacks Jake. Annie runs away back into the cabin and waits armed with an evil looking dagger for Ash to come for her. She waits while the door is being and stabs poor Jake in the stomach. She has to pull Jake away from the door then to close it again. She removes the knife and drags him into the main room. For some reason she leaves him lying on the floor next to cellar door. not hard to see what happens next. Henrietta drags Jake down into the cellar and his death is marked by a geyser of blood

Deadite Ash in Evil Dead II

Image via Wikipedia

Ash gets into the cabin is going to attack Annie when he sees a  pendant just like the one he gave to Linda. Somehow this lets Ash drive the evil out (why did this not happen for Linda, Ed and Henrietta?) Annie use this chance to attack Ash but Ash insist he is all right. She attacks him again because, well would you believe him?

Ash has to go down into the cellar to get the pages of Necronomicon that Jake dumped down there. Henrietta cackles with glee. Ash heads out to the tool shed and makes a device to hold the chainsaw on his arm in place of his severed hand in his other hand he holds a shotgun when he saws the end of of it with his chainsaw. He expresses satisfaction with his work with the simple cheesy line “Groovy”

Ash goes down to the cellar and finds the pages (behind a door?). He tosses them up to Annie but when climbs the stir to leave Henrietta attacks. She follows him up the stairs and her neck elongates grotesquely. She has Ash pinned to the floor but Ash gets his chainsaw to her neck and her head goes flying. Ash pins the head to the floor and blasts it with the shotgun .

Annie recites the first spell and the trees start attacking the cabin. After she complete it the evil manifests it itself as a his red face screaming at them. She starts to recite the second spell but before she can complete it she is stabbed in the back by ash’s evil hand clutching the evil knife. A swirling portal opens sucking in everything. With her last dying breath Annie completes the spell and the evil gets sucked into the portal. But so does Ash and his car

Ash falls through the portal and lands in the middle of a dry barren landscape surrounded by medieval knights> The knight suspect he is a demon but they lose their interest in capturing Ash when a demon comes flying at them. Ash thinks quickly and blast it dead with his shotgun.  Now the Knights all start praising him as the Chosen One prophesied in their legends to defeat the evil. Ash gives it a big ” NOOO” and the film ends on that sequel bait.

This is a really great film but it is different from the first one in many ways. Horror films don’t often have much slapstick but this film has a lot of it right up to the point when he shoots Bobby Jo and the mood changes to more of a horror film much like the first film. The special effects are the main benefit of the greater budget Raimi had to work with and while they undeniably better they are also less stomach churning.

Rating 9/10

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Film

 

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Review: The Unnamable

I am afraid this film continues the tradition of failure that seems to haunt adaptations of the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. I think the original story was a reaction by Lovecraft to criticism of his habit of using adjectives like Unnamable as a substitute for a proper description by creating a story where Joel, a critic of just such a habit by the character Carter is brought by Carter to face a creature that Joel himself calls Unnamable at the end.

The films opens with an old house where a worried old man lives with some screaming monster that he keeps locked in the attic. He says he is trying to civilise the creature which is his daughter but for some reason he seems to have mad turn of believing he can succeed and frees the creature which promptly butchers him. Local people quickly bury the old man and seal the house completely.

This is all just a story being told by Randolph Carter (Mark Kinsey Stephenson) to his friends Joel Manton (Mark Parra) and Howard Damon (Charles Klausmeyer), fellow students at prestigious fictional Miskatonic University in Arkham in Lovecraft country. Joel ridicules Carter’s use of the “unnamable” adjective reasonably arguing that if it can be seen or experienced with the five senses then it can be described. Carter then drops the bombshell that the story is as was reported and happened in old abandoned house by the edge of the cemetery.

Joel dares Carter to spend the night in the house calling him out on his bravery but Carter really does not rise to it and refuses the challenge, pointing out that he’s not the sceptic and he believes it to be a dangerous and foolish stunt but Joel can go ahead on his own if he really believes there is nothing to fear. I’m not sure I have really adequately conveyed how smug and arrogant Carter is in this film.

This arrogance of Carter’s is what prompts Joel to declare he will go and stay at the house in the hoping to wipe that smug grin off Carter’s face. Joel goes the house and looks around and eventually heads up to loft. He hears noises and thinks Carter is trying to scare him. He then gets jumped by some unseen creature which tears him apart.

Up to this point I was fairly happy with the film and it did seem to have some basis in the original story. But a this point the story starts to take another more familiar shape. Two college jocks John and Bruce are chatting to two new girls, Wendy and Tanya. Howard likes Wendy but she doesn’t like him while Tanya like Howard who barely notices Tanya. Bruce and John convince the girls to go to old haunted house with them by claiming it is used for sorority initiations and they can get some advance knowledge. It is a BS excuse and everyone knows what’s really going on and while Wendy is happy enough Tanya isn’t.

Yes, a Lovecraft story been turned into yet another formulaic film about a group of students who go to an abandoned scary house to make out and get killed. Meanwhile Howard is worried that they have not heard from Joel but Carter dismisses his fears at first. It’s only much later after Howard has checked with Joel’s family that Carter agrees to go the old Winthrop house with Howard.

I really was disappointed with this film. The elements from Lovecraft seem to work even if the guy playing Carter is an enormous ham. But the reduction of a Lovecraft horror to a haunted house monster story really just irritates me. It is like there are two films running concurrently and every moment spent with Howard  and the shallow screaming girls from the haunted house story is a distraction from the real story. The effects are quite good and the creature looks okay but it really doesn’t look unnamable, in fact she has a name Aliydah or something that we hear her called over and over by her father’s spirit at the end.  Oh, yeah, the end. When Carter and Howard get to the house Howard springs into action looking aroung the house for Wendy with Tanya

But Carter finds a room full of old books that turn out to be grimoires and of course includes the Necronomicon and while the monster is chasing and killing students upstairs Carter plonks himself down for some reading. At the end it all pays off when he gets an “of course” look in his face and takes the Necronomicon outside to the graveyard. He opens up one tomb then whilst reading spells from the book he descend to do battle with whatever, tree spirits or something.  But we don’t go with him and instead we go back Howard and Tanya battling Aliydah until Carter’s spells work and a tree reaches in and drags away Aliydah. When it’s all over Carter crawls out of grave and with bony hands trying to drag him back. This is a very abrupt ending and it was just groan-inducing for me especially when Carter makes reference to something he saw down in the tomb as being unnamable – argh! stupid cheat ending dumb film

Rating 5/10

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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