Evil Dead on DVD and Blu-ray

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 12:46
Posted in Blu-Ray
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Evil Dead - a new version out on Blu-ray and DVD“Evil Dead” is a reboot of the hugely popular, trend-setting and enormously controversial (at the time of release) horror classic. It is produced by three key figures associated with the original: Sam Raimi, Robert G Tapert and Bruce Campbell, who of course played Ash in the original trilogy. Five young adults take a trip to a cabin in the woods and fatefully uncover a book that unleashes an all-out assault by an evil spirit.

Mia (Jane Levy – Suburgatory) hopes to take advantage of the remote location to shake off a drug addiction with the help of her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez – “Red Riding Hood”), and friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci – “Carriers”), Olivia (Jessica Lucas – “Cloverfield”) and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore – Legend of the Seeker). When Mia starts to behave erratically the others assume it is a bad case of cold turkey…Until the bloodletting starts!

Fans of the original trilogy will find much that they recognise in this reimaging, and quite a lot they do not. Familiar aspects include the decaying cabin setting, the notorious Book of the Dead, the trapdoor leading to the cellar, the disembodied camera flying through the forest and the disturbing woodland rape scene.

Features unique to this new version include a complete lack of humour, no Ash character (the two go hand-in-hand really), a much larger budget that affords massively improved special effects and some plot twists.

Just as the original bated the sensors, so the 2013 version pushes the boundaries of gore and human mutilation as far as they can possibly go. In 1981 the horrific violence was cartoony and often slapstick; this time around the possessed characters do terrible harm to each other and the effects are so believable that it is quite hard to stomach, bringing to mind the “Saw” movies in terms of ghastly imagery.

Modern audiences expect this level of body-horror and if that is what you like, you will get a kick out of this film. Nail guns, electric carving knives, shards of glass and of course chainsaws are used with extreme prejudice, and despite the more realistic atmosphere, the characters withstand crazy amounts of punishment before they perish.

It is difficult to rate remakes, especially when you are a fan of the original; my personal opinion is that this is not going to be another lasting or rediscovered classic. There is nothing particularly wrong with the new edition but it seems to be so obsessed with covering its cast in buckets of blood and horrifying the audience that it forgets to scare them in the process. The characters are not that likeable despite some perfectly good acting, and the twists are not big enough to make it unpredictable.

Fede Alvarez’s direction is solid but not as adventurous as Sam Raimi’s was thirty-plus years ago. In light of Alvarez’s YouTube hit “Panic Attack” (seven million views and counting), you might have expected more from him. Joss Whedon’s “The Cabin in the Woods” shook up the genre but this film returns to tried-and-tested techniques and as a consequence feels a bit flat and unadventurous.

The Blu-ray version reviewed depicts the gloomy, dark setting in the best possible manner, and shows off the excellent low-level lighting and meticulous sets. The effects soundtrack boosts the clarify all of the creaking, scraping, squelching and screaming such that, if anything, the sounds are more disturbing than the images!

  • Special features bundled with both versions include:
  • Making Life Difficult - The intense and physically exhausting creation of the film
  • Being Mia - The physical and psychological transformation into ‘Evil Mia’
  • Directing The Dead - Director Fede Alvarez re-imagines a cult horror classic
  • Commentary featuring Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, director Fede Alvarez and writer Rodo Sayagues
  • Featurette - Unleashing The Evil Force - Exploring the origins and design of the new ‘Book of the Dead’
  • Featurette - Evil Dead: The Reboot - Cast rehearsals, Bruce Campbell, Deadites and more.

 

The featurettes may be quite short (under 10 minutes each), but they are professionally produced and full of great interviews and behind-the-scenes clips. ‘Being Mia’ is my favourite because it reveals how gutsy, patient and amiable actress Jane Levy is, sitting in make-up for hours every day and being immersed in gallon upon gallon of cold fake blood during the shoot. Finally, I recommend you watch to the end of the credits for a brief, fun and slightly incongruous extra scene.

“Evil Dead” (2013) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Studiocanal. The main feature has a running time of 91 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £17.99 on DVD and £22.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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