Daring To Be Different: Why The Evil Dead Can't Be Beaten
There are many horror movies that become instant classics - those that are so far ahead of the time they were created that they are prized for bringing much needed value to the genre.
It could be for production value, story ideas, unique killer, or even for the sheer entertainment of it, but movies like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, The Omen, Pyscho, and Children on the Corn become so paramount for revolutionising horror that all other projects after them pay homage to these die-hard horror classics.
While those listed are all definetly horror classics, a cult classic tends to be adored by certain audiences - those whose tastes are usually a little wackier, and the sentimental value is placed on a project for quirky reasons rather than production ones. For these quirky and crazy reasons, The Evil Dead cemented itself as a B-grade cult classic almost instaneously, with its campy low-budget take, quirky Deadite characters, and bumbling yet suave hero Ash Williams, played by equally as bumbling and suave Bruce Campbell.
The idea was that The Evil Dead was so B-Grade that it ended up being horror A-Grade.
The Evil Dead was a pet project by young director Sam Raimi, who later went on to direct big budget movies such as the Spiderman trilogies starring Toby McGuire, Oz: The Great and Powerful starring James Franco, and gypsey horror Drag Me To Hell. Starring comedic friend of Raimi's Bruce Campbell he later went on to cameo in many of Raimi's other projects, but also establish a pretty good acting career as well.
The Evil Dead was a low-budget, low-tech, crude campy masterpiece that was a high-intensity, blood-splattered and unique take on a genre stuck in slasher mode. Stephen King heiled it "the most ferociously original horror film of the year" and with that thumbs up, a classic was born.
Despite the non-stop horror that never let up in The Evil Dead, Raimi and Campbell brought a unique vibe to the movie by incorporating constant humour and wild slapstick routines that are paramount through all of The Evil Dead movies and was half the reason that the movie ended up with a "cult classic" tag. The use of slapstick in a way that is so reminiscent of black and white comedy classics such as The Marx Brothers movies and The Three Stooges was in the end what made The Evil Dead so wacky and different.
In fact, watching the recent Starz TV series entitled Ash Vs The Evil Dead, the slapstick is so on over-the-top and on-point that it is completely reminiscent of the original film. There are several scenes where Bruce Campbell is at the mercy of slapstick to the point where you can hardly believe he was happy to act out several of the scenes included in the show.
I mean, he ends up being pulled demonically through the rectum of a deceased, headless corpse in the middle of the morgue and runs around with a corpse on his head ala Mr Bean and that Thanksgiving turkey episode. You have to have a pretty wicked sense of humour to be involved in that!
Bruce Campbell completely embraced the personality and iconic role that is Ash Williams to the point where it is hard to see where Ash ends and Bruce begins. Moving on to have a pretty successful B-grade movie hero career, Bruce played the fun-loving sidekick in the TV show Burn Notice, as well as even embracing the hilarious idea that HE IS Ash in the extremely B movie My Name Is Bruce. He's written several hilarious memoirs called "If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Grade Actor" and "Heil to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Grade Actor", clearly proving he is totally on board with the B grade actor schtick.
But get Bruce in a room with horror cult classic fans and you'll see that he is way more than that. The Evil Dead was so popular that it went on to become a three part movie series with The Evil Dead Two and Army of Darkness. They were both so campy and plasticine filled as the first, and were so popular that even as years rolled by it was impossible to leave well enough alone. Starz joined forces with Campbell and Raimi in 2015 to bring back the world of Ash and the Deadites with Ash vs the Evil Dead.
With the TV show having just announced it's cancellation shy of a month ago at the end of it's third season there was an outcry from fans having to say goodbye to Williams again. The cast were unbelievably thankful for the show "resurrecting their careers" but the cancellation only highlighted that there is a demand for this kind of fun, quirky cult horrors in this world.
Because in a world of Freddies and Jasons, why not dare to be a Deadite?
I'd watch this space if I were you... something tells me Ash Williams is just too "groovy" for this to be the end...