Today's Box Office: Evil Dead

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- THV Film Critic Jonathan Nettles on the remake of the 1981 classic horror film, Evil Dead.

In 1981, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell gave the world, a horror film called Evil Dead. It would go on to be a cult classic spawning two sequels and be considered one of the best horror films of all time. Now, Raimi, Tapert, and Campbell become Executive Producers of the film's remake. Don't be turned away by the word "remake". The producers worked very closely on the story with director Fede Alvarez to make sure it was the done the way they would have done it, if they had the budget and the effects to pull it off.

Evil Dead is the classic cabin-in-the-woods horror story about a group of friends in a rundown cabin who release a demonic spirit that takes them down one by one. That's all the plot you really need to know.

If you are a fan of the original film, it's a safe bet to say you won't like this one as much. Not because it's a less superior film but because of the nostalgia for the original. That's the category I fall into. I hate horror films. I don't like watching them. I don't like being scared. However, there is something about Raimi's Evil Dead that has endeared itself to me. It's probably because of the perceived campiness of it, the charm of Bruce Campbell wielding a chainsaw, or maybe it's the way it takes itself seriously but not too serious. This version has the same horror pitfalls of the original but it's updated and more frightening. It gives you enough story to like the characters but doesn't stretch to point out why you should care.

On its' own Alvarez's Evil Dead is a very good horror film. Did I mention the blood? Oh my, the blood! It's everywhere in this film and it's on everyone. At times the scenes are unsettling, disturbing, and uncomfortable but they're always awesome, leaving you wondering what they'll do next. It doesn't go to the point of being a torture type film but it's bloody and full of gore with all the scares you'd expect and so many more that you don't expect. Fans of the 1981 film will appreciate it when I say the film is "groovy".

Not being a fan of horror films, I was curious how fast this movie would get my heart pumping, so I wore my exercise heart rate monitor. My average heart rate was 103 bpm, the peak was 124 bpm, and I burned 1,716 calories. It doesn't get you anywhere near what's considered a target heart rate and you certainly don't feel like your heart is about to beat out of your chest but that didn't stop me from covering my eyes when I thought something bad was about to happen.

The biggest lesson we can all learn from Evil Dead is that if you go to a rundown cabin in the woods and find a book that is bound by barbed wire, wrapped in heavy plastic, bound in human flesh, and someone has actually written "do not read these words aloud"; then don't read the words aloud. In fact, it's probably best to leave the cabin and find a nice hotel.

Also this week, Steven Spielberg's 1993 dinosaur movie gets the 3D rerelease treatment. Jurassic Park 3D is the story of a theme park full of cloned dinosaurs that suffers a major power breakdown, letting its' dangerous exhibits run amok. It's a great movie that taught if nothing else, taught us not to move when face to face with a Tyrannosaurus Rex but to run like hell from a Velociraptor. I can't wait to take my boys to see it.

The Little Rock Film Festival announced this week that it is headed downtown with screenings at Argenta Community Theater in North Little Rock as well as The Rep in Little Rock. The idea is to make the festival more pedestrian friendly and keep it in the downtown areas that are experiencing arts revitalization. The festival is also placing an emphasis on local Arkansas musicians by featuring live music before and after screenings, as well as hosting several parties and events at the legendary Whitewater Tavern. The full lineup will be announced soon.

The circle of film critics lost one of its' greatest this week, Roger Ebert passed away on Thursday after a long battle with cancer the day after announcing he was taking a "leave of presence". Growing up, I would watch him on one of his weekly movie review shows and think about how the best job in the world would be to watch and talk about movies before anyone else had seen them. I'm sure God is anxiously awaiting Ebert to give heaven "two thumbs up".

"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough" - Roger Ebert


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