The horror genre is full of remakes. Some films bring something new to the respective franchise, while others are better in theory. Your friendly neighborhood GGA horror girl is here to help you determine which remakes are worth the effort and which ones to avoid. I watch the terrible remakes, so you don’t have to. Once a month, on the second Saturday, I will be here talking about different horror movies that have seen at least one redo, possibly more. In this inaugural entry, I bring the Evil Dead franchise. Let’s look at the original 1981 film, the 2013 one and the latest 2023 addition. Of course, there will also be a mention of Evil Dead II.
There are spoilers ahead for all of the Evil Dead movies, including the 2023 film. Proceed with caution.
The Evil Dead 1981
Written and directed by Sam Raimi, this movie follows a group of five friends as they travel to a cabin in the woods for a vacation. While there, they inadvertently release flesh-eating demons, the Deadites. The friends discover a creepy-looking book, the Necronomicon. They make the mistake of reading from the book which releases the Deadites.
This is one of those movies that sticks with you for several reasons. It is brutal, and yet, there is a humorous side. Fans of Sam Raimi are familiar with this style of horror. It is one thing that sets The Evil Dead apart from other similar films. There are layers to the experience. Moments like the pencil in the hand scene have made horror junkies heave. I say this with personal knowledge. I come from a long line of horror fans, including my beloved grandfather, who introduced me to the genre. When this movie first came to video, my grandfather, father and two cousins decided to watch it together. They all ended the session feeling sick, but none more than Grandpa, who almost threw up. They all vowed never to watch it again.
The original Evil Dead is available to buy or rent on VUDU and Prime Video.
Evil Dead 2013
Directed by Fede Alvarez, the 2013 Evil Dead is similar to its predecessor in many ways. However, it is considered by some fans to be even better than the original. It is more fleshed out, horrific and intense. The story is essentially the same as the original: five friends go to a cabin in the woods, but the reason for the trip differs. This change does not affect the effectiveness of the story. Once at the house, they find the Necronomicon, aka the Book of the Dead. After reading from the book, the Deadites are released, and a battle to survive ensues.
I love this version. It has everything I look for in the franchise. It is bloody and brutal, with moments of comic relief. The vine scene is one of the few that have made me cringe, iykyk. Not to mention all the Easter eggs that tie it to the original. Of course, when it comes to the Evil Dead movies, it is difficult to call any of them a “true” remake. Any of the films mentioned here could be seen as both a sequel and a remake. I will dive into that a bit more in the Rise section.
Evil Dead 2013 is available to stream for free on Tubi. It is also available to rent or buy from YouTube, Redbox, VUDU and Prime Video.
Evil Dead Rise
The latest addition to the world of the Deadites, Evil Dead Rise, takes place in an urban setting. Unlike the previous films, this one is not set in a cabin in the woods. Instead, the story is placed in a crappy apartment in Los Angeles. Otherwise, it is a familiar tale. Someone finds the Book of the Dead, reads through it and plays the records stored with it. Subsequently, the Deadites come out to play. Then, each of the characters must strive to survive.
In the grand scheme of things, this franchise is incredibly unique for one primary reason. With the information revealed in Rise, many fans believe all of the films are connected. If this is accurate, none of the movies are remakes; they all exist within the same universe. In Army of Darkness, viewers see Ash (Bruce Campbell) faced with three Necronomicons, and he must choose the correct one. Now, with Rise, we discover that there are, in fact, three Books of the Dead. By that logic, we can assume that one is in the original movies, another in the 2013 film and the third in this one. This knowledge begs the question, are any of these actually remakes or are they all sequels? Perhaps they are something in between.
As for my thoughts on Rise, it falls short of the previous entries. It is obvious that a valiant attempt was made, and some scenes were incredible. However, it lost something compared to the others. The humor fell flat, the discovery of the book was weird and the Deadite mass at the end was ridiculous. There are two negatives for every good thing I can say about this movie. It is worth watching if you are a fan of the franchise, but don’t expect it to hold to the previous balance between gory, horrific and funny.
Evil Dead Rise is still in theaters and is available to purchase on all of the major digital platforms.
Evil Dead II
Finally, I have to touch on Evil Dead II. Is it a sequel, or is it a remake? Generally, this one is considered a sequel, but many elements indicate it could also be considered a remake. In an interview, Bruce Campbell seems to settle the debate by calling it a “re-quel.” This term has been popularized in the last few years to describe a horror movie that is somehow both a reboot and a sequel. Looking at the current requirements for a requel, Evil Dead II checks all boxes. It brings back one or more legacy characters, puts them with a whole new cast, follows the theme of the original and adds in more details. So, according to Ash himself, it is both a sequel and a remake.
You will not often hear me say this, but I recommend watching all these movies. They each have their place in the franchise, and fans can look at them in a whole new way since learning about the multiple Necronomicons.
Which Evil Dead is your favorite? Let us know in the comments. Also, leave your ideas for which franchise I should discuss next. Stay spooky, horror fans!