Old vs New - Evil Dead
March 7, 2017
(After the shortened version of Channel Awesome logo, we cut to the Nostalgia Critic 2017 opening. It is a direct homage to The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest intro: we are shown the dark, red-striped canyon with clips from various episodes, mostly from 2016, being lightened up on the rocks as the camera is moving. In the foreground, we see some recurring characters floating by: Hyper Fangirl, Chester A. Bum, Satan, Santa Christ riding in sleigh, Ralph Bakshi (with Julie Taymor and Spike Lee as wings), Devil Boner, Creepy Dad, Aunt Despair, Black Willy Wonka, Bill, Darth Vader breakdancing, Wonder Woman and Superman. The screen explodes, and the Nostalgia Critic himself walks from left to right, blowing away smoke from his handgun. After the main title forms, we are shown NC...not in the review room, but in the living room)
NC: (looking offscreen; sighs) As flattered as I am that you would use me as a couples' therapist, (he is addressing Hyper Fangirl and Devil Boner, who are looking upset) it is my nonprofessional opinion that you should seek an actual professional.
HFG: But you're the only one crazy enough to understand us.
DB: Yeah, and to be fair, we do usually get along better when we take you against your will.
NC: (revealed to be bound by chains to a chair) Well, I've been kidnapped so many times, at this point, there's probably a plumber constantly being told that I'm in another castle.
DB: (as he and HFG hold hands) What can I say? We're bound tighter when you're bound tighter.
HFG: And I can practice my arts and crafts on your manacles.
NC: (his arms are manacled together; the manacles are a girly pink) Yeah, they're lovely, thanks. So, let's get to the heart of the argument.
DB: (he and HFG abruptly withdraw their hands) I'd rather not talk about it.
NC: Good, I'd rather not hear about it. (holds out hand) Key, please.
HFG: (frustrated) It's just that we thought that we agreed on every single thing, and we found out that there's (holds up index finger) one major hiccup!
DB: The Evil Dead movies.
NC: (putting his hand on his head) Yeah, if I had a nickel for every couple who's broke up...
HFG: He prefers the remake, even though the original is the cult classic!
DB: It's gooier and more realistic!
HFG: It's demons possessing people! How is that more realistic?
DB: I can tell you some things!
(They start arguing inaudibly as the NC turns toward the camera)
NC: The funny thing is, it's kind of amazing we're having this conversation at all.
(Footage from the original Evil Dead is shown)
NC (vo): The original Evil Dead, a horror film about a group of people being possessed by spirits, is still considered a cult classic. It put (image of...) Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell on the map, led to hugely (posters of Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness pop up) entertaining sequels, and still stands as one of the most uniquely corny, yet somehow badass horror films ever made. So, when it was announced a remake was coming out, people reacted how (a shot of a crowd people giving a thumbs-down is shown) everybody reacts when they hear a remake is coming out: (a shot of a man about to smash a computer with a sledgehammer) "It was betraying what was perfect!" "Don't fix what's not broken!" Something about "fucking your mother with a chainsaw–" It's the Internet, you know somebody said that.
(Cut to footage of the remake)
NC (vo): Yet when the movie came out, many people were surprisingly open to it. They said it was different enough to be its own thing, yet had just enough callbacks and practical effects to make it a loving setup. The blood hit the fan, and a lot of people seem to have a gory good time.
NC: (gesturing toward HFG and DB) Well, most people.
(HFG is covering her ears and humming loudly, trying to block out what DB is saying)
DB: Oh, come on, that never works! I know you can hear me! I know you can hear me! Oh! (takes his gun) Hey, hey, can you not hear this?! (he fires his gun in the air repeatedly) Can you not hear that?! Oh, can you not hear that?! It's an old–
NC: (shouting) HEY!
(DB stops firing as he and HFG stare at the NC)
DB: (to HFG) Oh, you can hear him, but not me, huh?
(HFG once again covers her ears and hums loudly, while Devil Boner resumes shouting and firing his gun in the air)
NC: DOUBLE HEY!! (again, their noise stops as they look toward him) Now, a good therapist will tell you that disagreement is the core of compromise, and being open to a new point of view helps you grow as a couple. Thankfully, I'm not a good therapist, so I say fight until somebody wins. (HFG and DB cheer; NC looks toward camera) So, strap yourself in... whether you have a choice or not. (looks back toward HFG and DB) I don't have a choice, do I? (they shake their heads) Yeah, kinda figured. This is Old vs. New: The Evil Dead.
("Old vs. New" opening is shown, before cutting to footage from the original)
NC (vo): The one thing to keep in mind is we're only doing the first Evil Dead movie, not any of the sequels. (picture of Ash with chainsaw hand is shown) So put away your "foam and chainsaw hand for badass credit points" card.
HFG: Aw, but this is the literally the only time that I could ever use this.
DB: Don't worry, punches. I'll find other times.
NC: Let's start with Story.
NC (vo): In many respects, the stories are very similar: two groups of people go to a cabin in the middle of the woods where they discover the Book of the Dead, they idiotically read it out loud, summoning the evil spirits, and one by one, the people are possessed, killed off, or maimed in some sort of beautifully grotesque way.
HFG: Exactly! They're so similar. What's even the point?
NC: Well, the remake does have a few additions.
NC (vo): In the original, they're just going for a getaway, but in the new one, they're going as a means to get their friend off drugs. Not only does this already start off on an uncomfortable level, but it makes the belief of the supernatural all the more nerve-wracking because they think it's all just part of their withdrawal. On top of that, she and her brother have a mother who went crazy, so both of them have a fear of losing control and not mentally knowing what's going on. The story suddenly has more purpose, as these siblings are not only trying to stop these things, both mentally and physically, but they're also trying to figure out what's real and what's not.
DB: It also starts off as any psychologically challenging film should...
DB (vo): ...violent as hell! The first film, they just arrive at the cabin, but in this one, this chick is knocked out, her dad's gonna burn her alive, for some reason that (image of...) eraser head baby is there, and only when she's fired up does she reveal her roasting bitch face, then "POP goes the evil"!
DB: That's how you start a gory movie! BLOOD!!!
HFG: But what was the point of all that?
HFG: But it doesn't dive into anything!
NC: (holding phone) You guys don't mind if I phone for help, do you?
HFG: (not paying attention) No, go ahead.
DB: (also not paying attention) Fine.
HFG: (as NC phones for help) I know it's technically the people that were there before...
HFG (vo): ...but we barely know anything about them. Like, who was that eraser head baby guy?
DB (vo): Yeah, that was a little weird.
HFG (vo): The original starts off simple and unassuming, you have no idea what you're in for. The Book of the Dead is discovered and you have no idea what it can do, building up the suspense. You also hear more about who these people are, seemingly kind folks who stumble across something awful, which makes it even more uncomfortable building up what's coming. The remake gives away too much too soon.
DB: You think that was pointless? How about getting wood?
HFG: Oh, Schmucomes, later.
DB: No! I mean, literally, the scene of...
DB (vo): ...the woman getting wood! What was the point in that?
NC (vo): That is kind of a good point. In the remake, there is a similar scene, but it doesn't show as much detail and is clearly done to show how the character's getting possessed. The original was definitely done to play up the shock value and exploitation vibe, even though, as far as I know, it doesn't really tie into anything.
HFG: Oh, come on! Just because the guy who came up with this insisted on...
HFG (vo): ...backing form shirts, (footage of...) naked women in chains, (a shot of...) and ended up marrying Xena Warrior Princess...
HFG: Everyone thinks he has an issue or two.
NC: Well, the creators of the first one definitely said they wanted to make the most shocking horror film at the time.
NC (vo): So I guess a lot of the random gore, violence and scenes that don't really seem to have much explanation all fall under the rationale of just trying to get an uncomfortable reaction, like any horror film, I guess.
HFG: But even then, they keep it to just the people in the cabin who attack. Who the hell is this...
HFG (vo): ...girl at the end of the remake?
DB (vo): Oh, that's the girl in the book based on the girl in the poster based on the...maybe girl who got shot in the intro. Geez, do I have that right?
DB: BUT WHO CARES?! LOOK WHAT SHE DOES TO HER!
(A scene in the remake is shown, showing Mia defeating the Abomination with a chainsaw)
DB (vo): HA-HA! OH, THIS IS (???) END!!
HFG: This ending feels tabbed on, making the story feel longer, and it's a happy ending! What the hell?!
DB: Oh, I forgot. You don't believe in happy endings! [Folds his arms and turns his head away]
HFG: Oh, puppykin...
DB: YOU CAN'T PUPPYKIN YOUR WAY OUT OF THIS ONE!
NC: Actually, you're both kind of right.
NC (vo): While the ending does drag a bit, it does still give us some good gore and a literal blood storm. It makes no sense, but I think that's part of the course for these movies. In fact, the majority of the remake has good fast pacing, usually jumping from one crazy gore fest to another with little time to take a breath. The original is much slower in not only getting to the blood bath, but also in the breaks it takes. I know this is for the mood and character, but let's be honest, that's not what people are exactly here for. They're here to see crazy shit happen, and not only does the remake cut to the crazy shit faster, but they give an additional edge with two of the characters not knowing what to believe, giving them little time to regain their senses and look over the situation. While the ending does feel drawn out, the rest of the film moves arguably much smoother than the original, which moves much slower but ends exactly where it should end. Oh, I mean, leaving it open for (posters of Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness and the TV series Ash vs. Evil Dead) two sequels and a TV series, of course.
NC: So, in adding everything up, the story in the remake is better because it adds more of what's needed and takes out more of what's not.
DB: (mimics Ash) YEAH, BABY!
(He shoots his gun rapidly at the roof as HFG crosses her arms in defeat)
NC: Okay, how much of my ceiling is still standing?
DB: I don't know.
(Several bits of the ceiling fall on top of HFG and DB)
NC: It's okay. It has a long history of people crashing through and shooting at it.
(We see the room's ceiling, which is riddled with holes)
HFG: Yeah, you should really get that looked at.
NC: (gestures to his chains) I'm a little preoccupied at the moment.
Round 1 Winner - New
(HFG disappointingly looks at DB relishing in the victory)
HFG: Oh, it's like you to gloat.
DB: It's like you to GOAT!
DB: (crossing his arms) You heard me!
HFG: Yeah, I did, but I didn't get it.
DB: You didn't get it despite me!
NC: OKAY! (calmer) It's not my intention to anger the man who dresses in guns, so why don't we use the puppets that my therapy book/how to survive a hostage situation recommended?
HFG: Yeah, I guess we could do that.
(HFG takes out a puppet (that resembles Julie Taymor's puppet from the Cool World review), dressed as HFG herself, and DB takes out an action figure of himself wielding a gun)
HFG: (speaking as puppet) It just can't be the main actor in the original films. It's Bruce Campbell, for God's sakes!
DB: (shaking action figure; speaking in falsetto) Yeah, but he was barely in it, though!
HFG: Why are you using that voice?
DB: I dunno, I just feel like... that's how he should talk.
HFG: You're not supposed to use a funny voice, you're just supposed to, like, talk talk.
DB: Well, then, why are we using them at all?
HFG: USE THE PUPPET!
DB: (shaking action figure; falsetto) Why are we using them at all?
HFG: (speaking as puppet) You're doing the voice again!
DB: (to NC) How is this supposed to help?!
NC: It's supposed to help you say things that you would never say.
DB: Oh, you mean like, (shaking figure; falsetto) "The original Evil Dead is better!"
HFG: I don't like playing dolls with you!
(HFG's puppet grabs the DB action figure in its mouth, pulls it out of his hand, and spits it out on the floor; NC facepalms himself in frustration)
DB: My mini-Boner! YOU DESTROYED MY MINI-BONER!! (grabs HFG's puppet by its throat and strangles it) I'LL KILL YOU! I'LL KILL YOU! DIIIIIIE!!!
(HFG, speaking as puppet, pretends to choke and gasp, before finally making an expiring exhalation as puppet "dies")
DB: (devastated at what just happened) Oh, my God, I killed her.
HFG: You killed her.
DB: I killed puppet you!
HFG: You killed puppet me!
DB: Do we bury her in a shoebox, or how does this work?
HFG: She wanted to be cremated!
DB: Puppet you is very specific!
HFG: Well, she prepared for everything, except for you killing her ass!
DB: All right, let me find a fireplace.
NC: (frustrated) Christ! (to camera) This is Best Main Character!
Best Main Character
NC (vo): Now this is really difficult, because while one is a really good actress with a great backstory and wide range, the other is Bruce fucking Campbell.
HFG (vo): Come on! It's Bruce Campbell! Nobody can dislike anything he does. It's like a commandment.
NC (vo): But there is one major problem: this isn't really the Ash we've all come to know and love. He's not a badass, he's not a line-quoter, he's not a larger-than-life screw-up, he's just...a guy...not even a very interesting guy. When danger comes along, he usually just stands around and does nothing. His name isn't even Ash. It's Ashley, what a bizarre naming choice. (picture of Bobby Joe and Jake from the sequel) Is that why in the next one, they give one of the women two boy's names? It's like naming (pictures of named people are shown) John Wayne Daisy, or Ann Weiss Howard, or Stevie Wonder Steve-land. But what's in a name as long as the character is cool? And honestly, this is not a cool character.
(Ash gets pathetically scared by one of his friends, twice)
NC (vo): He's the dweeb, he's the loser, he's the guy you kind of forget about, so that it surprises you when he's the one who survives at the end. Mia is kind of a similar fake-out. She's the first one to get possessed, so you naturally think she's going to die. But, through some very strange demonic loophole, she ends up coming back and the brother gets axed. However, the range she has to through is amazing. She has to be pissed off, but composed, withdrawing, getting possessed, going back and forth between reality and crazy town, and then she has to be the fighting hero at the end. In a sense, she kind of plays every role you can play in a horror film. It's like a one-woman gore show.
DB: Plus, she's the greatest combination of (pictures of...) Gollum and Grima Wormtongue ever.
NC (vo): Ash, in the first film, is just kind of the victim here. He does eventually fight back, but not in a way that makes us wanna root for him. The remake surprisingly has more Ash-qualities than the original Ash, despite her not even playing the same character. Don't get me wrong, Ash has got some funny lines and he's entertaining, but in comparing the two, there's just a lot more in both writing and performing with the remake.
HFG: But this Ash gives birth to the cowardly badass that we all know and love.
NC: But that's not what's represented here.
NC (vo): If there were no other movies and we just had to judge these two on their own, Mia would be the more interesting character.
HFG: Kitten mush, what are you doing?
DB: (pointing his gun at NC) I don't know. I'm agreeing with him, and yet my hand wants to kill him based on what his outcome's gonna be.
NC: (sighs) I can't believe I'm saying this, but Mia is the much better character compared to Ashley. Not Ash, Ashley.
(NC is barely shot by DB)
DB: (fighting with his gun-weilding hand) I– I can't help it! I–I agree with him, but my hand wants to kill him for saying anything bad about Bruce Campbell!
HFG: But we need him for our counseling!
DB: I don't have control!
(DB falls to the ground)
DB: (to HFG) You know what need to be done!
(HFG gives DB a chainsaw hand)
DB: I'm gonna loff off my Bruce Campbell-loving hand!
NC: WHAT?! That's crazy!
DB: Maybe! But who's laughing now?
(DB starts the chainsaw and begins screaming along with NC and HFG as he lowers the chainsaw to his hand and...)
DB: (suddenly shutting off saw) You know, this seems excessive.
DB: L-Like I should really just grow up.
DB: Yeah, okay. T-This was silly.
(He and HFG get back onto the couch)
NC: ...Point goes to the new.
Round 2 Winner - New
NC: But you can't have a horror film without a line-up of bodies.
Offscreen voice: Or a rescue!
(Suddenly, a gun is heard firing; HFG and DB duck as the bullet whizzes over them)
DB: What the hell?!?
(They look to see Benny the Assassin (played by Malcolm) standing there, aiming his gun)
NC: Benny! Thank God you got my message! Get me outta here, man!
Benny: We can do this the easy way, or the fun way.
DB: (as he and HFG rise to their feet) Oh, no, you don't, Agent J. There's no way you're gonna get in the way of our little feud with the Evil Dead movies.
Benny: (surprised, lowering gun) Oh! You're doing the Evil Dead movies? Can I join?
HFG: Yeah, sit down.
NC: (makes a gagging sound as he facepalms himself)
Benny: (sitting on the couch with DB and HFG) I could never make up my mind of which one I like more. You know, I could talk about those movies to death.
DB and HFG: (in unison) So could we!
(They all laugh and point at NC, who sits there, with his lip in a pout)
Benny: Which part are you at?
NC: Oh, I was talking about the supportive backup that ends up being a lifeless lump on a log – or couch.
Benny: Mmm, I do love fiction.
NC: (turns to camera) Best Fucking Supporting Cast. (frowns)
Best Fucking Supporting Cast
Benny (vo): If I remember correctly, neither of these movies had particularly strong back-up characters.
NC (vo): Yeah, the support in both versions is pretty by the numbers. They both clearly exist just to be victims to either be killed off or possessed. When they get possessed, they're a lot of fun, each one with creative ways to look grotesque, gooey, and horrifying. But that still doesn't mean they have much personality before they're taken over.
Benny (vo): The closest was probably the brother in the second version, because he at least had a concern for his sister's mental health, which ties into the fear of his mental health as well. But we know he's not gonna go crazy.
HFG (vo): Yep, just bagging up (footage of...) his sister's head and burying her alive.
(DB and Benny give HFG a WTF look)
HFG: What? Your brother never did that to you?
(NC gives her a WTF look as well)
NC (vo): There's also a clever trick where just before the blonde dies, the spirit leaves her body, meaning she can go back to normal. This is great for later when the brother has no idea if Mia being buried is the real Mia or not. But aside from that, the supporting cast doesn't offer that much and aren't really very memorable. In original Evil Dead has a huge advantage, though; it has a sense of humor. Because it dose have a corny way of doing things that's both frightening and kinda funny. Their performances can be a little more hammy and not seem out of place. In a weird way, their sometimes awkward way of saying things helps them stand out more.
DB (vo): Ah come on! I remember...Nail Head and...Cutty Face and...Asshole Who Read Book Out Loud For No Reason...
DB (vo): Oh, what a bloody mess of a bloody mess! The gore in these movies are AWESOME! But it's the best in the new one! It looks more real, more painful, more disgusting!
HFG (vo): You're missing the point, though. It's not about how real it looks, it's about how creative and inspired it is, especially on such a low budget. Evil Dead has a big following, so, of course the remake is gonna have more money to make it more real.
Benny (vo): But give them credit. At a time when computers do everything, the majority of the gore is done on set.
HFG (vo): So? All of the effects of the original were done on set!
NC (vo): Both of these movies have very creative yet very different ways of doing their gore. The first film focused more on monster makeup, making them look more like demonic creatures. The remake focuses more on the avenues of mutilation. The monster stuff is mainly just context.
DB (vo): But look at all the crazy-ass ways they're chopped up! It's like a sculpture of clay that bleeds!
Benny (vo): It's kind of hard to see, though, isn't it? There's often flickering lights or too many dark shadows.
DB (vo): Oh, what? There weren't a lot of shadows in the first one?
NC (vo): They definitely were, but they were shot in a way where you can make them out better.
DB (vo): Yeah, you can make out how fake it is.
HFG: I can't even!
DB: YOU CAN AND YOU HAVE!
(Both Hyper and Devil Boner fold their arms and turn away from each other as Benny just sits there, looking at the camera)
Benny: I'm Benny.
NC (vo): It's true the film's low budget shows more in the original, but not only is that part of the fun, it also allows us to question the ingenulity. You know if anything went wrong in the remake, they could, and probably did, just digitally alter it. With the original, what you see is what you get, so there's not only a greater feeling of authenticity, but also a greater appreciation for it. (A scene in the original showing Ash looking at a victim's ankle being affected by a huge scar) This effect of the animated scars growing took an hour to animate live on set, and the weight of that time is felt in those few seconds.
Benny (vo): Being fair, the remake must have taken a lot of time, too.
NC (vo): It's true, and the efforts show. The effects look a lot more juicy and fleshy. Even the Book of the Dead actually looks like it was bound in human flesh and not...burnt...bean dip. They're still impressive and go to the extremes for their kills.
HFG (vo): But again, the original's low budget is not only impressive for what they did on so little, but it also somehow feels more painful. When somebody gets injured in the remake, it's inventive, but you don't really feel the pain. In the original, even when it looks fake, you feel how much it would've hurt.
NC: Part of that could be because a lot of the actors were getting hurt.
(Clips mainly focusing on the characters getting hurt are shown)
NC (vo): They didn't have enough for stunt people, so half the time, when someone really got hurt, they just left it in. There was less protection, and therefore, more risks, and that tension comes through the acting and makeup. If they all look like they only have one shot to fight something off, it's because mostly, they did only have only one shot.
(Tracking shots shown in both films are shown)
NC (vo): I'm sure the original actors had to go through a pain in the ass shoot, too, but compare a tracking shot from the remake to a tracking shot in the original. Branches are hitting the camera, it's shaky, it's getting gunk on it. This is the kind of unprepared feeling that follows you throughout the whole film, which surprisingly works to its advantage. The other can look dirty, too, but it's also a lot more smooth and less shaky and you feel a little bit more of the manipulation. Not a ton, just in comparison to the original. And on top of that, more variety and the different types of blood, scars, monsters and techniques, and you have a competition that's close, but still favoring the original.
NC: Point goes to the old.
Round 4 Winner - Old
(Devil Boner now has his gun pointed at NC's face)
DB: That's two that went to not my side. The next one better go to the remake, or everyone's gonna ask what's that bowl of Spaghetti-O's that used to be the Nostalgia Critic's FACE!
HFG: Or it can go to the original so I won't have to surgically remove my foot from the exploded remains of what used to be your testicles.
(A nervous NC looks at Benny, who brings out a packet of chips)
Benny: These are really good chips.
(He eats one, while Hyper also eats one. Benny, Hyper and Devil Boner all look at a nervous NC, who turns to the camera)
NC: Well, seeing how there's no way out of this without a huge amount of pain...
HFG: A lot.
DB: A lot amount of pain.
NC: ...let's just go to the final category: Atmosphere.