Allow your skepticism about the new Evil Dead movie to die now. This weekend, New York Comic Con attendees were treated to exclusive footage of the movie that is not a reboot, nor a remake, but a new entry in the classic horror franchise. And it was sick. I'll admit, I got a little choked up like a mother watching her daughter nail a ballet recital. A bootleg version of the footage is floating around today (for the moment), but when I tell you it doesn't come near the impact felt by those of us in the IGN audience, I'm not exaggerating. We felt collectively punched in the face. And then, there was Bruce Fucking Campbell.
I wasn't entirely happy about this new Evil Dead movie in the beginning, especially when I heard Sam Raimi was not going to direct, nor was Bruce Campbell going to be Ash. But then we all found out that Raimi and Campbell would be directly involved in its production and hand-pick its director, Fede Alvarez. It still didn't feel quite right. But after this panel, even if it still doesn't feel like an Evil Dead movie, that doesn't mean it's going to be a bad movie. In fact, I think this is going to be a great movie.
Let's start out by acknowledging how effortlessly and robustly Bruce Campbell owns a large room. Most of the people in the IGN theater had been there for hours (present company included), securing their seat for a number of spotlight panels that day. I don't doubt that some of us were there just to see Evil Dead, especially if we were going to get a wholehearted endorsement of this movie from Ashley J. Williams himself.
After a long standing ovation, Campbell sat down and told us all that we, Evil Dead fans, were "rude, crass, impatient people," and that if we wanted him to "crown" Jane Levy as the new Ash, "I will do it my fucking self." He and Levy discussed the casting process, Levy revealing that Campbell was either trying to talk her out of it or make sure she was prepared to take a Raimi-style beating from Alvarez. (Because what is an Evil Dead movie without its director abusing its lead actor? Not an Evil Dead movie.) Later, he and Alvarez also defended the hiring of Diablo Cody to brush up the script. Alvarez, who pointed out that he wasn't American, said that Cody's work on the script was really to make sure the young American characters sounded right. But also, Campbell added, "she won an Academy Award." So, there's that.
And even though Cody's job was to give the characters some silly quips amongst the horror, it was made very clear to us that this Evil Dead was going back to the very first movie, which was straight-up horror, and not the second or third movies, which were more "splatstick," a phrase coined by Campbell and Raimi. Before the video footage, we saw the full image that I teased above, which is of Jane Levy as a Deadite. Here is the full picture, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly:
This is really the first glimpse of the movie that we were getting, and it was pretty impressive. (As in, the audience made audible sounds of shocked approval.) But it was about to get better, because the footage we were shown had a palpable impact on the audience. This movie is not messing around -- it looks terrifying. We were sideswiped by this thing.
We have the Necronomicon. We have an idiot reading the Necronomicon. We have tree rape. And we have chainsaw. We have a new Evil Dead movie, and it is here to swallow our souls.
After giving a gaspy fan five dollars following a kiss on her hand, Campbell offered a final benediction:
"We don't want to screw this up... I know a lot of you were pissed... I will accept all of your collective apologies."
Legend has it that Bruce Campbell then dropped the mic and vaporized into thin air that day, but I had to scurry away to be on another panel, so I can't say for sure if this happened. But I'd like to believe it did.
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