Evil Dead: Theatrical & Unrated (2013) (Blu-ray Review)
Release Date(s)2013 (October 23, 2018)
Studio(s)TriStar Pictures/FilmDistrict/Ghost House Pictures/Sony Pictures Releasing (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: C+
- Overall Grade: B-
The very thought of remaking one of the most popular horror films ever made was initially met with, and justifiably so, a large amount of backlash from the horror fan community. Quite often, the scheme behind remakes is simply to profit off of the marquee value, regardless of the quality. Occasionally, there are filmmakers with producer, studio, and marketing support behind them who try their best to make something worthwhile and promote it well. So heading into a local multiplex in 2013 and seeing a large banner on the wall for Evil Dead with the words “The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience” plastered across it, made us all sit up and take notice.
In the end, Evil Dead managed to rake in a tidy profit for TriStar and Sony Pictures when it was released. Besides the trailers, the word-of-mouth that it was one of the hardest R-rated horror movies to come along in quite some time, that it relied almost exclusively on practical make-up and special effects, and that it wasn’t going to attempt to recreate the character of Ash with another actor, made it go into the stratosphere, bringing in a princely $100 million dollar profit worldwide, which for a $19 million dollar horror film at that time, was respectable business.
Fast forward to now. After having finally revisited the character of Ash in the Ash vs Evil Dead TV series, going back and taking another look at the Evil Dead remake has been an interesting experience. The first time around, you’re caught off guard by just how brutal it is. No one had made such an aggressively visceral, wide-release horror film in a while, and to tell you the truth, not really since then. Even I, who prides himself on usually being able to stomach these things, was taken slightly aback by it. The second time around, I found myself noticing more of the humor in it. Whether I’m simply jaded by this kind of material or it’s grown slightly tame in the intervening years, I’m not sure, but I honestly had more fun with it than I was expecting.
As far as its status as a remake, many things make it a worthy successor. For starters, director Fede Álvarez has proven himself to be a capable filmmaker. His second feature, Don’t Breathe, was also memorable and entertaining. Jane Levy, who leads the cast of Evil Dead, also turned out to be a modern day scream queen, handing in a dynamite performance as Mia. The film also expands upon the mythology of the original films, but never takes anything away from them. It also manages to be its own entity, offering incredibly subtle nods to those paying attention, but never sacrificing itself to do so. In the newly-offered Unrated version, we’re given 6 minutes’ worth of new scenes, including David having to dismember Natalie in the shed with a chainsaw, Mia’s mid-credits roadside pick-up, and some additional and alternate gore moments. It just adds a little bit more flavor to an already appetizing stew.
However, it’s not a perfect film. It does have a bit more of a Hollywood edge to it, using the Necronomicon as basically a way of explaining what’s happening in the story, whereas in the original, everything simply happened without any exposition. It doesn’t fully clarify everything, but it needlessly attempts to keep the audience on track. I also find that some of the dialogue choices to be underwhelming, particularly anything coming out of anyone who’s possessed. And that prologue, which really offers nothing to the rest of the film, probably could have been excised. Regardless of these flaws, Evil Dead still manages to be as potent an experience as you could want from a horror film.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment re-releases Evil Dead in a 2-disc set. For the first time in the U.S., it includes the Unrated version of the film. For the Theatrical version, it’s the exact same disc found in the 2013 release, meaning that you’re still getting great A/V quality, which Todd Doogan previously covered. As for the Unrated version, it’s presented on a separate disc, but is clearly a lesser quality presentation than the Theatrical version. Everything is clean and clear, but it’s much lower resolution with some cross-hatching and pixelization. Nothing is quite as sharp or as detailed, but the color palette is still strong and contrast is still excellent. The audio for the Unrated version is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH and French. I honestly don’t notice much of a difference between it and the Theatrical audio. It’s perfect in all respects with strong dialogue, sound effects, and score, and frequent low end, ambient, and panning activity. No complaints here. The Theatrical disc comes with audio in English and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD, English DVS, and French, Spanish, & Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, all with optional subtitles in English, English SDH, Chinese, French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.
The only new extras on the Unrated disc are 2 red band trailers and a green band theatrical trailer for the film. The rest consist of what’s on the Theatrical disc, including a great audio commentary with actors Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, director Fede Álvarez, and writer Rodo Sayagues (with optional subtitles in English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai); 5 featurettes (Directing the Dead, Evil Dead The Reboot, Making Life Difficult, Unleashing the Evil Force, Being Mia); and a set of previews, some of which also open the disc: Olympus Has Fallen, Breakout, Magic Magic, Dead Man Down, The Call, and The Last Exorcism Part II. For a future release, I’d love to see more of the film’s deleted and alternate scenes, pieces of which are scattered all over the film’s trailers and TV spots, as well as a long-form documentary about the making and impact of the film.
THEATRICAL VERSION (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/A+/A+
UNRATED VERSION (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B-/A+
For those who missed picking this up the first time, this is a no-brainer. Everyone else who already has it, you’re definitely ok retiring your previous Blu-ray if you want to save some shelf space. I personally enjoyed revisiting Evil Dead, especially the Unrated version. Casual viewers likely aren’t missing much, but if you’re a fan and want more, this is a disc worth checking out.
- Tim Salmons