Friday, October 22, 2010

31 Days of Halloween - Day 22: Freaked! & The Evil Dead on Blu-Ray

October is going to be all horror, all the time (unless we’re hanging out with Lil’ Troublemaker; but even then we’ll watch kid-friendly Halloween stuff) and I’m going to give you mini-reviews of every movie I watch rather than churn out more lazy (notice I said “more” – that doesn’t mean I won’t keep re-posting old ones) Top Ten lists.
Along with our annual viewing of THINGS this past Saturday night, we also showed The Evil Dead (Blu-Ray) and Freaked. Freaked won out over C.H.U.D. by popular vote. Sadly.
Freaked is a terrible piece of shit that was apparently made to remind the world that Ted was the more successful of the two for a reason. Like, any time somebody says, “Gee, Keanu Reeves has made all those movies and all that money. I wonder whatever happened to Alex Winter?”, you simply say, “Remember Freaked?”, and they’ll be all like, “Oh, fuck.”
And God forbid you have to actually show them Freaked as evidence.
Here is a list of good things about Freaked:
  1. It features the guy who played Blossom’s oldest brother – the one with the coke habit.
  2. The hammer’s origin.
  3. There was a hand under there all along!”
  4. It is under ninety minutes.
There you go. Everything else about the movie is terrible, and if you don’t get those references it’s probably because you haven’t seen the movie. That makes you a lucky little boy (or girl).
I was really excited about seeing The Evil Dead on Blu-Ray. I am very cautious about buying older movies in Hi-Def after the travesty that was Ghostbusters on Blu-Ray, but I had read reviews that said the transfer was outstanding, so I decided to pick it up.
Was The Evil Dead on Blu-Ray worth it? Since Freaked was such a wretched piece of crap that I don’t want to talk about it, let alone review it; let’s find out… NEXT!
The Evil Dead is one of my favorite movies. I don’t love it as much as I do Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, but it is still near and dear to me.
The story – if you don’t know it - is about Ash. There are some other folks in there, too; but Ash is the main character.
Ash and his friends go up to a cabin in the woods to do a little drinking and harmless carousing. Unlike other horror movies, there are no real archetypes here – these are all just regular kids. I think that’s part of the reason The Evil Dead is so effective as a horror movie. You really don’t want anything bad to happen to any of these guys.
Once the crew gets to the cabin, they find a tape recorder and a book in the cellar. They read from the book and play the tape recorder and shit goes HORRIBLY wrong. Starting with one of the girls getting raped by a tree.
I’d like to pause a moment and say that it bothers me just a little bit how much I’ve had to discuss rape this year for Halloween. It bothers me more that 2/3rds of that rape discussion has involved a tree and a snowman.
Anyway, the trees have their way with the poor girl (I would like to point out that I fell this scene should be accompanied by Rush’s The Trees), but she escapes and returns to her friends in the cabin. After she calms down (It’s just a little tree love, baby) we find out that she’s possessed by a demon so her friends throw her in the cellar and chain it shut.
One by one the rest of Ash’s crew get possessed by demons. It’s actually pretty horrible to witness him losing his friends one by one, and you could almost rationalize him becoming such a douchebag in the later movies.
Ash fights and/or dismembers all of his friends – including his girlfriend that he sort of proposed to or something before he had to decapitate her – but eventually ends up overpowered by the evil of multiple unkillable demons. While being dragged to Hell (get it?) he manages to snag the Necronomicon with the little necklace he tried to give his girlfriend before she became a foot shorter. He knows that destroying the Necronomicon will dispel the demons, so he throws it in the fire. This makes the demons stop moving. And then turn into much larger, more horrible demons which explode into geysers of goo.
And then Ash gets grabbed by an evil force, spun around a bunch and thrown into a puddle.
That’s kind of as good a synopsis as you get right now because we’re here to discuss whether or not the Blu-Ray is worth your money.
I already own what could be considered the definitive version of The Evil Dead – the Book of the Dead edition. It has a beautiful transfer, a new commentary and just a raging shitload of other bonus features; even including a documentary about making the film. And it is all packaged in a very convincing replica of the Necronomicon, complete with illustrated pages from the movie.
This Blu-Ray was going to have pretty fucking heavy-duty to make that set obsolete. Actually, to be honest, it never had a chance of doing that. I don’t care what kind of release The Evil Dead gets, I’m not getting rid of that Book of the dead edition. But I did think it was possible the Blu-Ray was a worthy addition.
This hi-def release features a new 1:85 enhanced transfer (as well as the old 1:33), all of the bonus features from the other edition and a new commentary recorded in December of 2009.
Honestly, the picture isn’t a whole lot better than the DVD. I mean, the movie is old as fuck. More importantly, it's indy as fuck. I think the cameras were grainy. There’s only so much you can do with the thing. As far as picture quality goes, it’s going to take a much bigger movie asshole than me to really notice a difference. I watched the same 10 minutes of each release back-to-back and the improvement is miniscule.
As far as that new commentary goes – I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t listen to the whole thing because it was fucking boring. Despite the fact that it features Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell; it just kind of sucks. You already know all of the good stories about this movie from the older commentaries and Campbell’s book, so all that was really left for this legendary crew to discuss was the financial aspects of making the movie. And that is dull as dull can be.
All in all, I would say if you don’t already own this movie, you should track down the Book of the Dead edition. But, if you are big into Blu-Ray and don’t care as much about gimmickry, go ahead and get this. It was only eighteen bucks at Walmart, which is a bargain.
3 out of 5 exploding demon eyeballs

Until tomorrow, stay creepy

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