Why I Like Evil Dead The Best

A few nights ago I went to the Ford-Wyoming Drive-Inlink1 to attend a double feature2 -- The Evil Dead (1981) and I Drink Your Blood (1971).

It was outstanding.

Nothing increases your horror cred like seeing classic grindhouse horror at the drive-in. Granted
I Drink Your Blood was a ridiculous movie that could have been about a group of Satanic hippie murder cultists OR a town plagued by an outbreak of rabies that turns the people into killers but instead it decided to try and be both. Fun for anyone who loves old horror, but definitely not a family night out.

Before I go on to the main chunk of this particular rant, let me state that I was very impressed with the precautions that the Ford-Wyoming is taking to reduce the risk of anyone passing on COVID-19. They have essentially halved their audience. Instead of two cars between each set of speaker posts3, they make sure that it is only one car per area. Naturally, the speakers are covered and not being used. Frankly, it’s pretty cool that they still pump the audio through them since just about everyone tunes into the radio frequency that the film’s audio is being broadcast on. Other than that, the rule is if you are out of your car, you are wearing a mask. Bathrooms (with limits on the number of people who can be inside at any given time), masks. Concession stand -- masks, plexiglass, marked spaces on the floor. They are taking the health of their attendees and staff seriously. Well done.

As I was sitting in the comfort of my car, windows down, sunroof open,4 I started feeling pretty proud of myself. Sure, I had seen all of the Evil Dead movies in the theater5 multiple times. I’ve seen each movie in a theater when Bruce Campbell was in attendance. I’ve seen each movie more times than I care to admit. But that’s not the reason that it is my favorite franchise. I’ve seen all of the NOES movies multiple times, some in the theater. I’ve seen all of the Hellraiser movies, although most not more than once. I love the Xenomorph. I watch
The Crow every Devil’s Night.6

The reason that the ED franchise is my favorite is, although they are very different movies,7 ithat they all
belong in the same franchise. The first film is an over the top horror movie with dismemberment, crazy stop motion decay, demonic possession, and tree rape. The second is a movie that is so far over the top that it can’t even see the top anymore. It walks that fine line between horror and humor and just plain gross out effects -- gallons upon gallons of blood. The third is a humorous action adventure movie with some horrific elements set in the, I don’t know, let’s say middle ages. Still, they feel like part of a unified whole. Let me examine the other movies I mentioned in the previous paragraph and their sequels and show you what I mean.

Except for
The Crow. There are no sequels to this film. Nada. No. I don’t care what IMDB says. It’s a stand alone film and to even consider anything else is blasphemy. No. Fucking. Sequels.

Let’s start with NOES, because it has a similar change up as the movies go on.8 Can anyone tell me what is missing from
Nightmare on Elm Street that is present in the rest of the films (although not that much in some, like the second movie)? If you said “Freddy,” you are pretty close. He only has 7 minutes of screen time in the first film. No, what I’m getting at are the quips. As the franchise progresses, not only do we get a lot more screen time for Freddy, but he turns into a stand up comedian. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, Freddy’s pretty funny. However, I think that the humor takes away from the later films. I’ve read some people who say that it makes Freddy less horrifying, and there may be something to that. I still think a dude with knives on his fingers who can kill you in your sleep is pretty terrifying. There is also an argument to be made that more Freddy time means less establishing time for the other characters. In my opinion, however, the one-liners, along with the number of films made, makes Freddy too familiar to be truly terrifying.

In this way, the ED series has one leg up, in that there are only three installments so there is not enough time to become bored with the antagonists9. Also, what our intrepid cabin goers have to deal with changes with each movie. In the first, it is pretty much demonic possession and the desire to not to have to bodily dismember ones friends. In the second, Ash has to fight his own possession (and his hand, and poor Ted Raimi in a dead grandma suit), and in the final film it is the titular Army of Darkness (go Deadites!).

Which brings us to another interesting comparison. While there are a few characters who return to Springwood, OH, the only consistently present character is Freddy. While we do learn his backstory over time, his character development, as noted above, is primarily from terror to comedy. Ash starts out as a timid, ineffectual character who gains bravado, becomes more heroic, and becomes smarmier as the films progress.

The Alien franchise has a simple, yet tragic problem. After the first two films, the rest are just varying levels of crap. I’ve gone back and forth on my opinion on the third one, but there is no doubting the drop in quality. The rest just suck.

We have a similar problem with the last franchise I wanted to discuss, but this time with an added twist. The first to Hellraiser movies are quality. The third one is goofy. The rest are like a shop vac -- they both suck and blow. The reason behind this is most of the subsequent films
are not Hellraiser films. At least all of the other movies we’ve looked at so far are actually written for the franchise. Many of the subsequent movies featuring the Cenobites started out life as a different movie and had the Hell lords shoehorned in. Some of them might even have been good scripts if they hadn’t been forced to metamorphose into a Hellraiser movie. As such, Pinhead and crew lose their original characterization and become a watered down, vaguely Judeo-Christian versions of themselves, to their detriment.

Would this have happened to the Evil Dead movies if the franchise had carried on? Who knows. Maybe will find out next year, as the fourth film has been announced. Until then, I can still say that the Evil Dead franchise wins out as my favorite because it’s the only one of my preferred series where I can watch
all of the films and enjoy them.10

1 Frequent visitors will know that I see most of my movies at the drive-in or at midnight showings.

2 The Drive-in always shows two movies for the price of one.

3 Kids, get your mom and dad to explain how the drive-in works. Better yet, make them take you to one.

4 It was a perfect night for the drive-in. I just wish I had remembered some bug repellent. Little bugger tagged me twice before I squashed them.

5 By which I mean
Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness and the 2013 remake can fuck right the hell off.

6 And anyone who wants to call it “Angel’s Night” can join the 2013 remake.

7 OK, ED and ED2 are not that different, but you know what I mean.

8 Do NOT bring up the remake. I will cut you.

9 To be fair, that’s really just Ash, who changes enough that he’s almost a different person in each film.

10 You may have noticed that I did not bring up the
Ash vs The Evil Dead television series. Part of the reason for this is that I wanted to focus on the movies and not get into other media. If I start talking about television programs, then I have to go into Freddy’s Nightmares. Then I spin off into the comic book adaptations of each franchise, which gets really weird with The Crow having been based on a comic books. Pretty soon, it’s just a mess.

The other, more important reason I did not bring up the television series is that I haven’t watched it yet. We don’t have Starz and I have not had a chance to catch it now that it is on whatever channel it’s on now. It’ll happen, eventually.