On Friday, August 28th, I attended an EVIL DEAD triple feature at the New Beverly Cinema in L.A. and it was a very “groovy” time. The theatre was completely sold out and filled with EVIL DEADHEADS anxious to watch the greatest horror-comedy trilogy ever conceived by humans! I’ve been lucky enough to have seen all three of these movies in the theatre on their initial runs and I’ve also seen them screened individually over the years at the various revival houses around town, but have never seen them all back to back, till now.
First up was the original, THE EVIL DEAD from 1982. I saw this film for the first time back in ’83 on a double date in high school. It was the second movie on a double bill with David Cronenberg’s THE DEAD ZONE at the Norridge Theatre in suburban Chicago, Ill. After the first movie was over, we all debated on if we should stay for the second feature or not. The girls wanted to go, but I suggested watching the first 20 minutes and if it sucked, we could leave. At about the time of the “tree rape” scene, I turned to my friend Mark and he gave me a thumbs up on staying for the rest, which we did. I have not seen THE EVIL DEAD projected on a screen since then and we were now all treated to a pristine 35mm print that belonged to none other than Mr. Sam Raimi himself. How cool is that?! THE EVIL DEAD is the ultimate experience in grueling terror and seeing it again with a big audience drove that fact home even harder. If I were to choose a favorite, it would have to be this one. But the next one is a damn close runner up…
I love, love, love the shit out of EVIL DEAD II! It is the greatest gore-comedy ever created. Bruce Campbell really knocked my socks off when I first saw it back in ’87 and you know what? He still does! Like the Buster Keaton/W.C Fields of horror, Campbell’s physical slapstick combined with the most spot-on line delivery imaginable has always been well deserving of all the praise he’s received. The motherfucker is awesome!! Watching him kick the living shit out of himself for this little horror movie makes me understand why he became such an icon.
Sam Raimi deserves a special 18k gold director’s chair in Heaven for this one! The frenetic style of this benchmark movie is one of the most influential in all of horror, no doubt. It was great fun seeing it with the enthusiastic New Bev audience. Then it was time for, BRUCE CAMPBELL VS.
ARMY OF DARKNESS is the perfect way to wrap up a trilogy and an evening of movie watching. Phil Blankenship played this as a midnight movie in ’07 and the place was packed with fans who quoted the movie out loud and applauded in all the right spots. Ditto on this night as well. AOD is a “party” movie for sure. It’s the zaniest of the three and not at all bashful about letting you know it. I love the humor and the nods to Ray Harryhausen with the skeleton army. I also think it’s great that the character of Ash becomes a total dick in this movie. His disdain for everyone around him is hilarious and totally justified. If I had been through all the shit that he’s had to deal with, I’d be an asshole to all those “medieval screwheads” too.
Seeing the whole EVIL DEAD trilogy back to back was another amazing time at my favorite movie theatre in all the world, The New Beverly Cinema. They have serious revival house “game” and their programming “pimp hand” is very strong. Check out the John Hughes memorial festival this week. You know where I’ll be.