The Project: The Evil Dead, the remake of the low-budget Saim Raimi gorefest which kickstarted one of the great cult-film horror franchises.
The Panel: Star Jane Levy, director Fede Alvarez, and Bruce Campbell, star of the original Evil Dead trilogy and de facto mascot of all things Comic-Con. Moderated by Entertainment Weekly’s resident playboy Dalton Ross.
Footage Screened: An extended and extremely gory trailer for the remake debuted in front of a crowd. The beats of the film are familiar: A group of young people go into a remote cabin. But the trailer quickly descends into extremely visceral violence. Some of it looks familiar, including the saw-assisted removal of a demonic hand and a frisky tree. Some of it is all new: The trailer ended with one of the female characters cutting into her own mouth with what appeared to be a box cutter. Aesthetic-wise, it looks like they’re going for something in the neighborhood of “an orgy of bloodshed.”
Snap Judgment: The sheer extremity of the violence in the footage screened earned roars of approval from the crowd. Still, speaking as a lifelong Evil Dead fan, it was a bit disappointing to see that the film is mostly ignoring the goofy slapstick which made the later entries in the series so memorable. This Evil Dead looks like an undeniably freaky horror film – it’s just not clear how much of an Evil Dead film it is.
The Big Revelations: Alvarez explained how Diablo Cody got involved in rewriting the screenplay – she came onboard after the director and his writing partner Rodo Sayagues Mendez created the original draft, essentially to “Americanize” the dialogue. (Fellow devotees of Jennifer’s Body: Rejoice! Everyone else: Be skeptical!) Levy said that the names of the five main characters form “a play on words, if you listen to all the names together.” For what it’s worth, their names are: Mia, David, Eric, Olivia, Natalie. Solve the riddle, super-sleuths!
The Best Thing Bruce Campbell Said: Clad in a bright red jacket, Campbell started the panel off by referring to a much-lauded actress from the just-completed Carrie panel: “What the hell is Julianne Moore doing here? Where’s your art film now?”
Actually, No, This Is The Best Thing Bruce Campbell Said: Attempting to explain how the new Dead relates to the original using a straightforward visual, Campbell said, “This movie will be like putting on a comfortable shoe.”
Then Again, Maybe This Is The Best Thing Bruce Campbell Said: Noticing a lady audience member dressed like his Dead character Ash, Campbell noted, “Female Ashes are kind of hot, actually.”
Without a Doubt, This Was The Best Thing Bruce Campbell Said: When an attendee asked him to recite the iconic passage from Evil Dead’s Necronomicon, Campbell retorted immediately, “If I was your little monkey I could.”
The Dream Continues: After Campbell spent the entire panel explaining why he would not be appearing in any more Evil Dead films, and why Raimi would probably never direct another Evil Dead film, Campbell closed the session by saying: “Sam Raimi is threatening from his deathbed to make one of these movies.” Thus shall Evil Dead 4 live on forever in fanboy hearts.
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