I’ve seen so many movies in my life that it’s hard to choose just one that changed me. I could easily argue that film as a whole has made me the person I am today. As a child growing up in the 80s movies were a big part of my life and only got bigger as I got older. I know for a fact that not a day goes by that I don’t reference a film of some sort. Maybe that’s a normal occurrence for people these days — maybe not. But I decided that in order to really figure out what movie changed me I had to figure out which movie was the first one to make me realize that movies would become a part of me.
It was a long emotional journey down memory lane with many twists and turns. I had to unlock some pretty scary places and I’m not too proud to say I cried for a few hours each night during this self retrospective trip down film memory lane. At one point I had to climb to the top of a large mountain and meditate to find the core of my film life.
Actually, that’s crap. It took me ten seconds to come to my film that changed me: Evil Dead 2.
It all started with a selection of VHSs my best friend’s Dad brought home. He had randomly picked them up somewhere and basically left them for us to watch. We flipped through them until suddenly we saw a box with skull with eyeballs on it. Underneath that skull sat the words Evil Dead 2. To our young, freshman, high school minds there was no debate which tape we were popping in and watching. Clearly this was fate.
After watching the film both of us were shocked into disbelief at how amazingly great it was. Not just in the way we were expecting – a fun gore movie – but it was actually insanely entertaining, well done and impressively made. More importantly it was as if it was made for us. It played out exactly like we would make a movie. The hero actually said “Groovy” after strapping a chainsaw to his hand and sawing off the end of his shotgun. THAT’S EXACTLY HOW I WOULD DO IT! Someone had gotten inside our totally amazing heads and made a movie.
We of course found Evil Dead and Army of Darkness soon after this and began a love affair with the master of B movies and television (watch Jack of All Trades, you won’t regret it), Bruce Campbell. However, it wasn’t until much later, after majoring in film and becoming a critic that I actually thought about how important seeing Evil Dead 2 was. I’m sure another film would have eventually come along, but Evil Dead 2 was the one that made me realize that movies were something I could really understand. They weren’t just something other people made, but something I could get into and understand as well because, as Evil Dead 2 proved, people were making movies that were exactly how I would make a movie.
There’s no way I would have fallen so in love with film if it weren’t for Evil Dead 2. I can sit here and actually debate the merits of the film as a film until the death, but that really wasn’t what was important to me then or now. What is important is proof that film and movies can succeed even if it’s being made by a bunch of people who consider the Three Stooges to be some of the smartest people on earth (they were, by the way). This movie proved to me that movies don’t have to be out of reach or impossible to get to because you have a different idea of what awesome is. And yes, there were plenty of other “awesome” movies before this, but for me Evil Dead 2 spoke out louder than all the rest.
What I really hope is that everyone has a film like this, no matter how dumb and immaterial it is. Once you find that movie that makes you realize that film isn’t theirs, but is in fact yours and everyone’s then you’re golden. If you don’t have it yet I hope Flixist can help you find it.