The original film: The Evil Dead (d. Sam Raimi, 1981)
The story: A group of college students are partying it up at an isolated cabin when they accidentally resurrect a plethora of demonic spirits, which then go on a killing spree. Only one man can turn the tide: Bruce Campbell’s iconic Ashley J. Williams. Also, there’s tree rape.
Existing permutations: Two sequels — Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992)
Proposed new incarnation: Sounds like a straight-forward reboot, though it could slip into rebootquel territory if Campbell reprises his role as Ash. The new film is expected to be released in 2013.
Argument for: The Evil Dead and its two sequels comprise one of the cherished horror series of all time, though unlike most horror franchises spawned in the ’80s, this one never ran itself into the ground with umpteen sequels. Plus, it’s been nearly two decades (!) since Army of Darkness hit theaters, so it’s not like we’re beating a dead(ite) horse here. The earlier films were made on a shoestring budget, and it could be interesting to see what kind of craziness Raimi and company would put on screen with a bigger wad of dough. The sequels veered off into extreme horror/comedy hybrid territory, so it might be nice for the series to return to its straight-horror roots. Seeing The Chin portray Ash one more time, even in just a short cameo, would be a gift long hoped for.
Argument against: The cabin in the woods scenario has pretty much been done to death at this point. (In fact, a flick called The Cabin in the Woods, which apparently goes all meta on the concept, opens this April.) Raimi doesn’t intend to get behind the camera for the new Evil Dead, passing the reins on to Federico Alvarez, who’s only directed a few shorts (including this much-heralded one). Alvarez may make a competent feature director, but these films were distinctly Raimi’s. So if Sam is only producing and not shooting it, what’s the point? Many think the low-budget charm of the original three films only contributes to their greatness and that a bigger budget would just fuck things up. Tree rape isn’t going to fly in today’s mainstream cinema, and it’s going to be awfully hard to top it in terms of shock value. Lastly, making a new Evil Dead movie without Bruce Campbell or Ash at the center of it? Uh, yeah, good luck with that.
The verdict: Not so groovy. A legitimate Evil Dead 4 with an aging Campbell fighting the deadites one more time could work. (Or it could be the Crystal Skull of horror, but you never know until you try.) However, a reboot with only peripheral involvement by Raimi and Campbell sounds like something the Book of the Dead should have warned about.