There's plenty in the film to make you remember the originals even if the new movie is mostly trying to do its own thing. This is definitely a remake (kind of in the way Evil Dead 2 was a remake, sequel and reboot all in one) so there's the obvious stuff like the cabin, the cellar, the *ahem* tree scene, and the Necronomicon. That stuff is easy to spot. It's the little nods that really seal the deal, however. In light of that here are the 10 more subtle (if anything in this film can be considered subtle) homages to the original films.
Note: This is from a single viewing of the film. There's some we noticed that aren't listed, like the editing in the tool shed, and still more we probably missed. While this article doesn't explicitly give anything away it does hint at some plot points. If you're worried about going in fresh, see the film and then come back and read.
"The Classic" is a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that has appeared in almost all of Sam Raimi's movies including the entire Evil Dead trilogy. It pops up in the new Evil Dead at the beginning (see image below) in a bit worse for ware than we've seen it before, though not by much considering its treatment at the beginning of Army of Darkness. Even covered in rust, plants and dirt "The Classic" truly still is. Plus, it hints that this movie may be more connected to the previous films than we thought... you know, if we're desperate to make connections.
The Drawing Pad
As you can see above Mia (Jane Levy) has a drawing pad at the beginning of the film. This references back Cheryl in the original film who also does some sketching during the movie. And by sketching I mean her hand gets possessed and draws the Necronomicon. Anyway, this little nod further establishes that Mia is supposed to be the sister character from the first film and David the Ash character. It's not something everyone will pick up, but it's a great way to put fans on the wrong scent of who will eventually be leaving the cabin.
The Skull Necklace Chain
Easily one of the cheesier moments in the original film is when Ash reaches for the magnifying glass necklace in order to use it to hook the Necronomicon and throw it in the fire. The chain has magically fallen into the shape of a skull and it's so obvious that they set it up like that that it's one of the better bits of slapstick in a film that's mostly gore. While the new Evil Dead swaps the magnifying glass out for some sort circular good luck charm, sure enough when it's found on the ground near the end of the movie the chain is in the shape of a skull. It's a bit more subtly done this time around, but not by much.
The Character Arcs
This one is obvious for some of the characters and a bit less so for others. For instance Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) is pretty clearly Scott (Richard DeManincor) from the original as they both get their ass handed to them and cause all the issues in the first place with their insistence in reading/playing the text of the Book of the Dead (roughly translated). Mia/Ash's character arcs are a bit less easy to see, especially since Mia's arc is actually Ash's arc over the first two films. Ash goes from horror-struck coward to insanity to total badass by the end of Evil Dead 2 with a bit of possession thrown in. Mia's arc follows much the same story except her cowardice is drug addiction, and her possession lasts a whole lot longer. The most important thing is she's badass by the end of the film.
Life lesson: if you're in a cabin in the woods and evil is coming after you do not look into a mirror. It's simply not going to end well. In the first two Evil Dead films Ash looks into a mirror and the first time its turned into liquid and the second his reflection jumps out and starts strangling him. In the new film Olivia (Jessica Lucas) peers into a mirror and sees a glimpse of her very gory future. The mirror then shatters and she later uses the shard to do the damage you see above. Just to be clear: mirrors = bad.
The Hanging Animals
This is actually a meta-homage since it references an homage itself. See Raimi and crew were inspired by Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Hills Have Eyes. The former had a plenty of creepy stuff hanging in Leatherface's house and so they hung up creepy things from the cellar ceilingin Evil Dead to pay tribute. The new film has even more, and in the form of dead, rotting animals. Neither the original Evil Dead or Texas Chainsaw went quite as graphic as the new Evil Dead does, nor did they force any of their characters to take the hanging animals out in the trash. Just goes to show you that horror has to keep pushing the envelope.
The "Fine" Line
This one actually gets repeated twice in the new film I believe. Eric insists on two separate occasions that everything is not going to be "fine" after David, who is clad in Ash's signature blue shirt, says that everything will be just that. This references one of the classic lines in Evil Dead 2 when Ash goes to check himself in the mirror saying that he's fine. His reflection jumps out and grabs him, saying, "I don't think so. We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw. Does that sound 'fine?'" Pucci doesn't quite deliver it as brilliantly as Campbell did, but it's another hint that leads anyone who knows the original films to expect that David is the new Ash.
The Wall Slam
(I couldn't find an image of this so here's a picture of Jane Levy to break up the blood and guts.)
One of the tenants of the Raimi Evil Dead films was that Bruce Campbell had to get beaten up as much as possible on set. In fact a lot of the cast got beat up, and to hear Jane Levy talk about it she didn't get off any easier with Fede Alvarez. At one point in Evil Dead Ash gets thrown into the wall, shattering a bookshelf. This shot is duplicated almost exactly in the new film as David gets flung across a room, adding a little Raimi-style cartoonishness to the violence for a brief moment.
When first making Evil Dead Rob Tapert espoused a lesson he learned from a Michigan theater owner on how to make a successful horror film: "Just make the screen run red with blood." Raimi took him literally and not only had a project flicker on has blood dripped down its lens, but also had shots where blood coated the actual camera's lens as well. Fede Alvarez went a little less literal and made it rain blood, still clearly following the sage advice of that theater owner. It's a great example of how the new Evil Dead is the same and yet different.
The "Join Us"
As Ash and his lady friend pull up to the cabin in Evil Dead 2 things get a little anthropomorphic as the cabin gets a pair of eyes and we hear the now classic words "join us." While the new movie actually does a really good job of avoiding directly cribbing from the old one they do give this a nod as David and his girlfriend pull up to the cabin. It's not quite as obvious as there's no overlay of evil eyes, but cleverly and somewhat subtly worked into the soundtrack are the words "join us." A great nod at the start of the film to let you know how things are going to be.
Make sure you stay until after the credits for a little something groovy.
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