Tag Archives: Sam Raimi

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: The Possession


A horror film from Sam Raimi is always a must see for me so I’ve been looking forward to this since I first heard about it. For this film Sam seems to have reigned in his wild imagination and though it is a good solid film it’s nothing special and not as much as I would have hoped from the creator of The Evil Dead films.

The film introduces us to the dybbuk box kept on shelf of an elderly woman. Just from her reaction to the box and whispering sound of her name from inside we can tell that it’s malevolent. She is about take a hammer a spike to the box when it attacks back, and her face hangs loose like she’s had a stroke. Then her body seizes and she has a violent fit that smashes her face into a table and throws her around the floor.

Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is a basketball coach who is divorced and has joint custody of his two daughters, 12-year-old Em (Natasha Calis) who is bright chatty and cheerful and 16 year-old Hannah (Madison Davenport) who puts on a pose of disinterest. The one dark spot in Em’s life is her parents’ divorce and she still has hope that they will get together again. When Hannah casually crushes that hope at dinner it really affects Em badly and it’s like light goes out inside her. She leaves quietly and Clyde tells off Hannah for talking to her like that. Hannah’s indifference falls away to reveal her anger at him for the divorce.

Next morning they go to a yard sale and Em spots the dybbuk box and right away wants to buy it and Clyde agrees. This is the yard of the old woman from the start of the film and we see her in her bedroom badly injured and tended by a nurse. Em is interested in the box because of the mysterious Hebrew inscription on its surface and it doesn’t have any obvious way of opening it. When they get home Em is impatient to get the box open and see what’s rattling around inside but Clyde gets distracted by a phone call about a job interview so Em takes the box up to her room and finds the catch that opens the box which sighs as she lifts the lid.

Em’s behaviour starts gets increasingly strange and she gets more obsessed with the box. Clyde and his ex-wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) at first think Em is reacting to the divorce and Stephanie’s new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show) but her behaviour gets more violent when Clyde tries to get rid of the box and Stephanie gets granted sole custody by the court when Em fakes being hit by him.

Clyde investigates the box and is told that it’s a dybbuk box used by some sects of Judaism and it’s meant to contain a spirit and it’s not supposed to be opened because then it can escape and possess people. Clyde is sure that is what has happened to Em and he has to get her exorcised before the dybbuk takes her over completely.

This is really just another exorcism film only it’s from a Jewish perspective so it’s a rabbi not a priest they need. It plays out with very few surprises for me and although it does a good job building up the tension the exorcism at climax of the film was not as epic or brutal as the one in The Exorcist, but I suppose very few films can reach that high standard. The more modern effects do look good but they are missing the visceral horror of old-fashioned gunk.

The cast are pretty good and Natasha Calis in particular is very good but it is the type of family drama by numbers: divorce, tension between parents and between them and their children, a new partner, job commitments. I did enjoy the film but I was surprised by how ordinary it was. It claims to be based on a true story and I think I can see what elements were true: a superstitious man may have believed that his daughter’s illness was caused by a demon from a box and he sought help from a rabbi to exorcise it. If you want an exorcism film that is not too intense you may like this one

Rating 7.0/10



Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Entertainment, Film


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Notable Occurences

Poltergeist is being remade and Sam Raimi is producing.This news seems to lead to two common reactions – Dismay: Why do they have to remake everything? That film was a classic, well perhaps not a classic but I watched it when I was in my 20s and I’m sure that someone thinks it’s a classic. If people enjoy the film so much why can’t they just watch the original? There’s no need to remake it with modern CGI effects and ruin the original just for the sake of squeezing a few bucks of the saps that make up the modern audience. There’s just no originality left in Hollywood. Joy: Great news, man that is such a fantastic team-up of a brilliant film-maker and great story. I’m sure with him at the helm we’re sure to get a fantastic movie with modern CGI effects and it will far outshine the lame old original with its rubber monsters. I’ll just wait and see how this turns out.

Raimi himself is currently working on a prequel to the classic Wizard of Oz called Oz the Great and Powerful which will feature Raimi’s old buddy and fan favourite Bruce Campbell in a cameo role and is due to be released in March next year. The remake of Raimi’s low-budget classic Evil Dead seems to be carrying on with a darker grittier serious tone which may have already been undercut by the excellent Cabin in the Woods reconstruction of precisely this type of storyline. Without the childish humour there appears little to separate this from  all the other films in the “college dicks get killed” sub-genre, but at least they have cast some pretty young people to watch suffer such as Shiloh Fernandez and Jane Levy.

Global Asylum Pictures, the studio responsible for many cheap knock-offs of big blockbuster titles, are getting sued by Universal because they say that Asylum’s straight to DVD American Battleship is pretending to be Battleship, the over-priced over-hyped piece of CGI trash based on a Hasbro board game that is itself a knock-off of an old paper and pen game. Asylum does make a load of knock-off rubbish such as 100 Million Years BC, Paranormal Entity and Transmorphers but I seriously doubt that they fool anyone. They are also the studio responsible for such trashy gems as Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus and Sharktopus. I don’t know if Universal have much chance of success but I’m sure Asylum will milk it for all the publicity they can get and I wonder which film will get better ratings because the expensive one has been getting a slamming from the critics

Fox are going to reboot Daredevil with David Slade directing. Fox are also in talks about rebooting Fantastic Four with Joss Trank. While Fox’s efforts with the X-Men have been generally well received and their reboot/prequel X-Men First Class got positive reviews but the same cannot be said for the Daredevil and Fantastic Four films. I’m not sure how it works but if Fox don’t get films made based on these two comics then they lose the rights. I doubt Chris Evans will be returning to role of the Human Torch having done so well playing Steve Rodgers in Captain America, First Avenger and Avengers Assemble.

Anyone who had fun with the old school slasher Hatchet will be happy to hear that Kane Hodder and Danielle Harris have signed on for Hatchet 3. Other sequel news is that writer Max Landis is penning a script for Chronicle 2. Another sequel at the writing stage is The Dead 2 a sequel to  the back to the roots zombie film The Dead.  A bit closer to release is Grave Encounters 2 a sequel to  the low budget found footage film which is in production and scheduled for an October release date and I hope it appears in UK a lot quicker than the first one did.

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Posted by on April 29, 2012 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 Evil Dead

Sam Raimi’s full length directorial début deserves its status as a flawed classic. The details about how this got made at all really show the determination of not just Raimi but all of those who stuck with it to the bitter end. Now he’s all ready to produce a remake of the film that started it all.

Five friends drive out an isolated cabin in the woods that they have rented. Scott (Richard DeManincor) is with his girlfriend Shelly (Theresa Tilly) and Ashley (Bruce Campbell) is with his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker). Ash‘s creepy sister Cheryl(Ellen Sandweiss) has also come because misery always insists on tagging along in case someone might be having fun.

This cabin really is isolated. To get to it they had to cross a bridge that was falling apart as they crossed it. The cabin is run down and has that feel of not being good place to be with all sorts of creepy noises and a wild camera running about outside.

The cellar door bangs open and they hear noises from down there so Scott takes the torch and goes down. After not hearing from Scott for a little too long Ash goes down to see if anything is wrong. Scott has found a journal, a tape recorder and a disgusting looking old book and a dagger left there by an archaeologist. They take it all upstairs and Asht turns on the tape recorder.

They sit listening to the archaeologist’s tape where he talks about Sumerian demons and a book bound in human skin that contained spells for summoning them. He then start reading these spells out loud and after while Cheryl starts freaking and demanding they stop the tape just when this party was getting started. Later that night Cheryl goes outside into the woods to see what’s making noises she get chased by the wild camera then attacked by the trees. Rob Tapert you are dirty.

Cheryl escapes the trees and wakes everyone up and demands that someone takes her back to town. Ash tries to but when they get to the bridge it has been torn apart by some powerful force and they have to return to the cabin. Ash listens to more of the tape on a head phone and finds out that the spell for summoning demons summoned a demon and it possessed the voice on the tape’s wife and dismemberment was the only answer.

Shelly is playing a game of “lets convince the retard she’s psychic” with Linda while Cheryl is staring out through the window at the woods and her voice goes all witchy and possessed sounding and every card Shelly turns over Cheryl gets right. Then she flies up and floats around with an ugly demon face and white eyes and complains about getting woken up.

Cheryl then gets very violent and shoves a pencil into Linda’s ankle and immobilises Ash with a book-case. Scott fights her and manages to get her into the cellar and chains the door closed. The wild camera comes for Shelly next while she is alone in the bedroom. Scott hears her screams and goes to look for her but he can’t find her. Then he gets jumped by someone in evil make up and a wig. They struggle into the sitting room where Ash leans helplessly on a axe watching on in horror. The Shelly demon’s head falls into the fire but Scott pulls her out. Scott repeatedly tells Ash to hit it with the axe but his pleas fall on daft ears so he grabs the axe from Ash and does it himself, chopping Shelly up into several wriggling body parts which they bury outside.

Scott wants to leave and see if there is another way down to town But Ash wants to stay and take care of Linda which is a bit of change for both characters. Scott runs off into the woods and Ash goes to see how Linda is getting on with the hole in her foot. It turns out that it’s got a bit infected with demons and it has spread a bit and she’s all evil face and white eyes and she attacks him. He hits her back and is about to blast her with a shotgun when she changes back. In the cellar he also hears Cheryl begging to be set free in her normal voice. Ash bends down closer and demon Cheryl grabs him through the floor boards. Demon Linda also laughs at him for his gullibility.

Scott comes back from the woods all ripped up by the trees and fatally injured. Linda attacks Ash again and in the struggle she gets stabbed right through with the big evil dagger. Ash takes her body out to the tool shed to cut it up but wimps out and buries her whole, so when of course she comes back to life and attacks him again Ash decapitates her with a spade.

The final battle between Ash and various members of the crew and the Raimi family dressed in monster make up is grisly and messy and involves a lot nasty looking liquids. This involves a nice blend of stop motion and live effects which must have been tricky to pull off.

This film feels very rough but Sam Raimi just about pulls it together to create something really disturbing. The POV camera shots are really well-used and of course spawned many copiers. The main cast are all pretty good and most of the time you don’t even notice when they’ve turned into monster with different build, hair colour or gender. I think this film will probably not have broad appeal of the sequels but it is definitely much more of a horror film than those are.

Rating 8/10

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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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