Bruce Campbell held court here at Wondercon, holding a huge auditorium full of people in his rugged manly hands, while showing us just how disgusting and insane the new Evil Dead really is. The glee on Bruce Campbell's face was palpable as he said things like, "They put the inverted umbrella in back of her throat and then the blood comes out." Even though he's not in it, this film is clearly a joyful thing for Bruce Campbell. Minor spoilers ahead...
So at this point, Evil Dead is coming out next week (and we're giving away free passes to see it in San Francisco.) And there have already been a lot of screenings of it, including at South By Southwest — so there's not much point in giving a blow-by-blow on the footage we saw, except to say that it is seriously revolting and insane, with gallons of blood and women bifurcating their own tongues and cutting their own lips off. And that's just the movie warming up, apparently.
Campbell said that he and Sam Raimi had talked about doing an Evil Dead sequel for years, but Raimi was always busy doing things like his Spider-Man trilogy. And then they met Fede Alvarez, whose short film Panic Attack had become an internet sensation, and he mentioned Evil Dead. "You can tell someone who's a real Evil Dead fan because they won't fucking shut up about it," said Campbell. The full-length Panic Attack film got stuck in development hell, but Fede pitched an Evil Dead film without Ash. Alvarez had heard there might be an Evil Dead remake — and he got incredibly pissed at the idea of anybody else making it happen.
Eventually, said Bruce Campbell, he wants there to be seven Evil Dead movies — four in the original series, and a brand new trilogy. Seven is a good round number.
And Alvarez confessed his ultimate dream would be to make a sequel to his Evil Dead, while Raimi is making Army of Darkness 2, and eventually the two sagas get combined into a single film where the characters from both series meet up. Including an Ash-Mia team-up!
Bruce Campbell said the difference between these films and torture porn is, after an Evil Dead movie you're talking with lots of nervous energy — after a torture porn movie, you just want to go home alone and hug yourself. Added Fede Alvarez, "There's always a hero in an Evil Dead movie, instead of the characters being just victims, somebody's always going to take a stand at the end and fight back."
And as you've probably heard, the film shoot was completely horrific. "I think the hardest thing I had to do in this movie was get buried alive," said Jane Levy. "We did it a couple of ways, and one way was with a plastic bag tied around my head with an oxygen tube [snaking] around my ear. They [put me in a ditch and] threw dirt on me, until I was completely buried."
Alvarez was incredibly passionate when talking about his desire to do all practical effects in this film. "I don't want to see fake stuff, I want to see real stuff. I don't want to see people faking it." He made a big point of saying ahead of time, "I don't want to hear the word CGI on this set." But during shooting, he came to regret those words a little, as shots took hours to set up. "Once you cut off someone's arm, it's hard to glue it back on and do another shot." But Alvarez added: "I know my friends, and I know the kind of movie they want to see: a very violent, non-CGI crazy movie."
Said Campbell, "How do you research cutting your face off with a piece of glass? Trial and error. You don't." Campbell became very animated talking about the tube they put down Jane Levy's throat to allow her to vomit gallons of blood onto Jessica Lucas' face. "You shove an inverted umbrella into the back of your throat," said Campbell, and the blood "this the inverted umbrella and then it pours out again. It's genius."
"A movie that's easy to make is actually kind of hard to watch," added Campbell. "These movies push it a little harder than the average movie, the director works a little harder, the actors work a little harder, and you guys seem to appreciate that." He added that it was was fantastic to see other actors go through the carnage, instead of him. When they got the first photo from the set, showing Jane Levy in a tanktop having blue stuff poured over her, Campbell and Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert passed the photo around going, "Heh heh, heh heh, she's in the suit." (It was practically a Beavis and Butthead laugh.)
Campbell also revealed, in response to a fan question, that he was approached about doing an Ash Vs. Freddy Vs. Jason movie. Said Campbell:
We had a conversation about that with New Line Cinema. They were like, "We want to see Ash go against Jason and Freddy." We were like, "Great. Now Ash can kill both of them." And they were like, "Actually, you can't." And were like, click. [Mimes hanging up the phone.] That was the whole conversation in a nutshell — because if you can't kill those two losers, what's the point of it?
Campbell sort of summed up his whole feelings of being happy to see Evil Dead back again: he's pleased they were able to shoot a movie in one go, without having to stop and start over and over, over a period of four years. He's pleased the equipment didn’t freeze or break down. He's pleased they had "actors who had an actual thing called 'experience.'" And he's pleased none of the actors were injured that badly. And most of all, he's very pleased that the film will be in actual theaters, and audiences might have a chance to see it now — rather than finally seeing it on video 15 years later.