At NYCC I was able to fulfill one of my life goals: interview Bruce Campbell. The man did not disappoint. In a red sports jacket and black shirt he was walking around like he owned the joint (he basically did) and brashly declaring the new Evil Dead film, which I got to check the trailer out for, as amazing. Even when he wasn’t up on stage at the panel he was on, and as he sat down to be interviewed you could tell he was excited about the new movie.
The new Evil Dead takes another group of teens into a small cabin in the woods, but this time the reason for heading up there is an intervention for one of the girls who is a heroin addict. Aside from the new plot we got to chat about why he thinks the new film needed to be made, how they went about re-imagining a horror classic with new director Fede Alvarez, and how much pain they put lead actor Jane Levy through with every torture they could. It was, in short, everything I could have hoped for, and coupled with the brutal trailer it has me believing in this new Evil Dead.
Were you starting to doubt you’d ever get to revisit this material again?
A little bit. We’re getting older and the idea is getting older. Sam (Raimi) is making big movies now and he may not always be able to take the time to do an Evil Dead movie. We’re glad that Sam ran into Fede (Alvarez) and what they were working on originally got bogged down. Turns out Fede was a big Evil Dead fan and pitched a couple ideas to Sam that were very interesting. Then myself and Rob Tapert started to pay attention, and he pitched a full story and we liked that, and then he pitched a script and we liked that. We kept liking everything that was happening, and here we are today.
How important was it for you to be one of the producers and how hands-on were you?
Well I was a producer of the first one and so I was a producer on all three of them, so it was just natural that we would all be back again. We really enjoyed it. You have a lot of boring conference calls when you make movies most times, but the three of us agreed it was just really fun to be working together again. We’ve always had a really good association… and now Fede is the new sucker.
You’ve said that this one is not funny like the others are.
Can you compare…
It’s more like the first one. The first one was only funny because it was melodramatic dialog delivered by bad actors.
You’re not a bad actor.
Uhhhh… yea. I’m less worse now. I have more experience now. But, you know, that had its own feel. You have to make a decision: how scary are we? Are we real scary? Are we funny scary? Are we just torture porn? Which, thankfully there’s not a frame of torture porn in this movie. I feel that aside from just being offensive — it’s not scary — that’s bad film making. I hope we’re coming out the ass end of torture porn and that it will never return.
What made you think the film needed to be remade in the first place?
We didn’t. It sort of grew on us like a wort. Plus, when you see the chances of making a sequel receding every year like our hairlines you think maybe there’s a better way. Let’s get some young punks here and torment a whole new group. We’ll use our experience from making three of them to help guide them to a new balls out movie that will torment people for the rest of their lives. And we think he did it. That’s the funny thing.
You’re not worried that the shift away from the more comedic angle will…
No, because the first one wasn’t at all. The first one was not designed at all to be really funny. Just as filmmakers we wanted to evolve so on the second one one of the writers named Scott Spiegel was just the funniest man alive. He and Sam would sit in a room writing Evil Dead 2 and just start cackling. They’d sit down the hallway from our old dentist’s office and just start laughing. We’d ask if they were writing a horror film or a comedy and they’d say, “We don’t know!” It’s just what it became, but Fede pitched a straight version and that’s what we made. I think it’s great. The movie is very adult. There’s nothing childish or immature or MTV-ish about its style. So what happens is when the shit hits the fan you start taking it much more seriously because the whole movie is. It’s like “When Interventions Go Bad.” That should be the tagline for this movie.
That’s the premise. Fede came up with this unique premise of why they are at the cabin in the first place and we thought that was pretty organic. This chick is trying to shake a little habit and go back to the family cabin where she can scream and let it out for a couple of bad days. Problem is by the time things get too far along they’ve been thinking she’s only in withdraw. It’s a bit worse than that, you know.
So what would you say the tone is? Is it a slow creeper? A jumper?
It’s not racing along at the beginning, it’s a pretty straight opening. You know, it’s a strong retelling of them visiting this old cabin and settling in while this girl solves her problems. Then when the dead is released it just gets relentless. You’re going to wish you were watching the earlier part of the movie.
How many monsters are we looking at?
Well there’s five kid so potentially five monsters.
Where do you feel like this will fall in the pantheon of horror films?
I hope that I am invited for the next 30 years to attend double bills at the Alamo Drafthouse. Show the first Evil Dead first then this one second at midnight for decades. I think they’re great companion pieces. They’re just two different versions of this creepy story.
Fede was very respectful to the original. There’s a lot you’ll get. You’ll be putting on a nice comfortable leather shoe here. It’s going to feel real familiar.
Are there Easter eggs?
No because the tone wouldn’t fit. There’s no jokey cameo from me as the ice cream guy going, “Here’s your two dollars back. You kids be careful at that cabin.” That’s not the movie. If it was Army of Darkness maybe — that kind of tone. No, this is a throwback. This movie scared the hell out of us the first time we saw it.
As producer what sort of involvement did you have day to day?
Well, when we were casting I felt as an actor I was a pretty good judge of actors. I also got to ask the question of how are you with special effects make up. Can you work in this stuff for extensive amounts of time. It’s a serious question that boils down to how tough they are. Jane Levy is a tough little chick. I hope she becomes the new Ash. I hope she gets considered with the same respect and admiration that that idiot Ash does. People enjoy that character and we didn’t want to put some unnatural burden on some new actor saying, “I’m the new Ash.” No you’re not. We didn’t want to put him in that position. Just tell a new story. It’s another bad night with a creepy book that they should have left alone.
Have you seen Cabin in the Woods?
I have not. I’ve heard there are references. It’s all good.
So how violent is the movie?
Yes. I know you said torture porn is crap so…
It’s fucking violent. This is a really fucking violent movie (ed. Judging from the trailer he is not lying).
You’re going to see it pretty damn soon. I mean how’s a nail gun fight sound? Like with lots of nails. How about blood rain?
Since you’d been through this before with all the make up and physical stuff did you talk to the actors about how to do it?
I sent them an email at the very beginning letting them know what they were going to get into. I was being very fatherly. Don’t party because you’re going to wear out. It’s going to be a long, long haul. We pushed every actor right to the brink… poor bastards. But it’s good. They worked hard for their entertainment value. And Jane Levy is going to be a little… she’s going to get work. She’s a little hotty and real tough.
Will there be anymore after this?
There damn well better be.