Archive for Bruce Campbell

Evil Dead Is Awesome

Posted in movies, Stuff I think is cool with tags , , on April 5, 2013 by bradellison

I was initially skeptical at best about the idea of remaking one of the best horror b-movies ever filmed, especially since so much of what’s great about the original revolves around the unique sensibilities of its director and star. As it turns out though, the new film is superb, inspired by the original but very much its own thing, a very different and much more brutal beast.

This is the most exhilarating horror movie I’ve seen since Cabin In the Woods, the most brutally gruesome gorefest I’ve seen on the big screen since maybe Hostel, and the first straight horror movie I’ve seen in a long time that really surprised me. Evil Dead lovingly reconstructs what Cabin In the Woods deconstructed, and the stitched-together reanimated corpse of that autopsied revenant is as scary and gross as you’d imagine it could be, even if I couldn’t watch the Eric-Stoltz-looking dude examing the forbidden book without thinking of Fran Kranz desperately telling everyone to not read the Latin. This is a no-holds-barred old-school spam-in-a-cabin picture that, like its namesake, actually delivers all the thrills and chills all those drive-in trailers promised.

Unlike its namesake, however, there is no sense of humor or gleam in the eye as it goes about its bloody business (barring maybe a couple of clever winks to the original). A lot of people forget that Raimi, Tapert, and Campbell were primarily comic filmmakers before they set out to make a horror picture for their first feature, and ardent disciples of the Three Stooges, as their use of the “fake shemp” label implies (and that term does appear in the credits of this new film, warming my heart). By The Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn they were going all-out Looney Tunes zany, but even in the first one there’s an element of madcap comic energy. The guys making Evil Dead are horror fans inspired by a horror film, and the wackiness is gone. The energy is still there, but it’s all channeled into darker avenues.

Just about every awful thing that can be done to a human body gets done in this film, and done on the screen. There’s tongue stuff, eyeball stuff, limbs coming off in all kinds of rough ways, blunt trauma, fire, water, tree-rape, chunky blood-vomit, nail-gunning, and what kind of an Evil Dead movie would it be without that trusty sawed-off shotgun and chainsaw? There is a spectacular amount of blood onscreen, more than you’d think would fit inside these five peoples’ bodies by a long sight.

There’s more to this than gore, though. Part of the genius of The Evil Dead is that it extracted and combined the active ingredients of The Night of the Living Dead and The Exorcist into a single high-intensity dose. It’s not just that people get torn up, it’s that something gets inside them, and then makes them tear themselves and their friends apart. Possession, damnation, friends trying to rip your face off, having to take a shotgun to your girlfriend, and ruthless flesh-bound killing machines that just will not lay down and die.  These five people are trapped in the worst kind of hell, where something is taking them over and driving them to do horrible, horrible things to each other. And it’s even more intense here because these guys aren’t just out for a nice vacation in an old abandoned cabin in the woods. They’re here because this is their last-ditch attempt to get our leading man’s sister to kick heroin, out where she’ll have no choice but to go cold turkey. No matter what agonizing contortions her body goes through, no matter what terrible hallucinations she suffers, no matter what insane lies she tells to convince them otherwise, they’re going to keep her here until the junk is out of her system.

You can imagine how much worse that makes things.

This is a lean, unapolagetic, brutally bloody scare machine, and it delivers the red meat with a ferocious vengeance, if you have the stomach for it. The rusted-out hulk of the familiar Oldsmobile outside the very familiar cabin (It’s still the same layout as featured in the originals, and in Cabin In the Woods, meaning by this point I’m more familiar with this piece of real estate than I am with some actual houses I’ve lived in) and the fact that they provide a satisfactory answer to the troubling question “why don’t they just burn that goddamned book?” that inevitably crosses the mind as soon as they stumble across it, well, those are just the cherries on top.

Speaking of which, fans will want to stick around through the credits, just because.

 

Seriously, I barely even use a TV anymore

Posted in Stuff I think is cool with tags , , , on March 22, 2009 by bradellison

Even though Ed Brubaker’s awesome Angel of Death has concluded, there’s still plenty to watch on the internet.  For starters, you can just rewatch Angel of Death.

But if somehow your appetite for Zoe Bell brutally killing mobsters is satiated, you could always try a little absurdist syndicated comicd strip parody:

It may not be as funny if you haven’t familiarized yourself with the Mark Trail, Mary Worth and Rex Morgan MD running gags on the Comics Curmudgeon’s blog, but seriously, you should be reading that anyway.  weird little showlets like that are one of the best uses to which YouTube has been put, aside from parkour videos, creepy probably-faked ghost videos, and episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000*.

A while back, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, who together made Army of Darkness, which is the greatest film ever made by human hands, decided to make a TV show where Bruce Campbell played a secret agent fighting Napoleon’s evil plans to take over the world while making as many double entendres as humanly possible.  The end result was Jack of All Trades, and it’s all available for free on Hulu.com.  It’s basically Bruce Campbell playing dress-up and being the world’s biggest ten-year-old boy.

To sum up the show, there’s an episode where Bruce Campbell and his pretty British inventor partner have to use an experimental submarine to rescue Benjamin Franklin from Blackbeard’s ship (which, for reasons never adequately explained, is a Chinese junk, but then they never explain why Blackbeard is around in 1801 either) before Blackbeard can deliver Franklin to Napoleon who intends to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction based on his lightning kite experiment.  Also, Blackbeard swigs kerosene, which allows him to belch huge fireballs.

On a more serious note, Hulu also has the Oscar-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, which chronicles the life and death of the ground-breaking politician and activist.  That should be enough of a downer to counteract the effects of Bruce Campbell.

*Of course, The Man keeps pulling the full episodes of MST3K off of YouTube, apparently feeling that you should pay them money to watch the television show they made and have made available on DVD instead of watching it for free.  I can see their point.  Still, many episodes are not and may never be available on DVD since they no longer have the rights to the movies, and “keep circulating the tapes” is a philosophy very near and dear to my heart.