That project never got made. But in one of their meetings, Alvarez let slip that he saw The Evil Dead on video when he was 12 and it remained his favorite scary movie of all time. Raimi, who had long wanted to make another Evil Dead movie but was too busy making giant films ( Spider-Man, Oz the Great and Powerful), asked Alvarez if he’d be interested in a remake.
The script he and writing partner Rodo Sayagues turned in landed them the job.
“The story that they came up with is much more serious than the original’s,” Tapert says. “Audiences today are much more educated about movies. The first Evil Dead is still a hard-hitting horror film, but audiences had never seen anything like it and didn’t know how to respond to it, so they laughed as a protective device. Plus the relationships between the characters were very sketchy. Since then they’ve seen so many outrageous movies, so the drama in this movie supports itself. The audience takes the story about a brother and a sister seriously. In the first Evil Dead, they were just waiting for something crazy to happen.”
Another sign of the times: While the original film received the equivalent of an “X” rating for its violence and gore, the new version — which is infinitely more violent and grotesque — passed with an “R” after the removal of three or four frames, never an entire scene.
“The ratings board has changed over the years,” Campbell says. “What once might have been an R is now a PG-13. We were concerned with this one, because two of the three Evil Dead movies went out unrated. But the ratings board understood our concept that some carnage and mayhem can be exuberant and not depressing. It’s so over the top, you can’t help but laugh. We’re not showing you a guy with a drill drilling into someone’s eye for two hours. This is not one of those movies where you feel like going home and hanging yourself.”
Evil Dead is hitting screens just a week short of a year after The Cabin in the Woods, the deconstruction of the horror film genre by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard that seemed to guarantee no one would ever be able to take one of these kids-alone-in-the-woods thrillers seriously again. But Alvarez, who says he loved Cabin, thinks that movie actually did the genre a big favor.
“ Cabin is such a fun movie, made by people who really understand horror,” he says. “There are a lot of things in that film that echo things in our movie. But I don’t think it hurts us on any level. If anything, Cabin makes you want to go out and see a real horror movie. And we’re not kidding around with ours.”