“Evil Dead” vs “Evil Dead”: Remake or original?

To anyone who has read one of my previous articles, you know how much of a Sam Raimi fanboy I am. On April 5, the remake of the 1981 cult classic “Evil Dead” was released and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. This comparison may have some slight spoilers, but nothing so detrimental that it will ruin the film.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love the original and those who just don’t get it. I know it’s very pretentious to claim someone doesn’t “get” a movie, but it’s so deliciously insane it’s hard not to love.

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The original on the left. Poster from Brainermagazine.com. The remake on the right. Poster from Filmschoolrejects.com.

The story of “Evil Dead” is simple. Five college-aged kids visit an isolated cabin where they find “The Book of the Dead” or the “Necronomicon.” A few verses get read and before they know it, demons start possessing them and causing chaos.

The remake changes the story around slightly. Instead of the kids being on spring break, they go to the cabin to help a friend go cold turkey from her heroin addiction. Though remakes often change things around, Fede Alverez’s version is able to stay faithful to the original version while also making some really interesting choices that will keep fans of the series more invested. Raimi directed the first version and had a producing job on the new release, so fans of Raimi can definitely tell where his influence began to pop in.

Both films aren’t necessarily scary as much as they are mind-blowingly gory. The 1981 version was commonly referred to as one of the most violent films of its time. It received top spot on a list known as “Number One Nasty,” beating films like “Cannibal Holocaust” and “Spit On Your Grave.” Rewatching this film recently, it still holds up as an incredibly violent film. It’s caked in cheesiness though. There are some very silly line reads and it’s obvious where the special effects lack, but because of its over-the-top absurdity, it has stood the test of time, grabbing many good reviews throughout the years.

The new version also has some silly moments, but because the cinematography is modernized and very appealing, that comes off less campy and more as actors’ mistakes. In terms of violence, though, the remake is miles ahead. Not only are there some unique forms of killing and torture that haven’t been used in many other films, but the amount of blood never reached a Tarentino level. Perhaps I’m more spoiled as a modern moviegoer, but most of the bloodiest moments actually seemed appropriate in terms of blood loss– minus a few scenes, of course.

Which movie is a better film? It’s very hard to choose a winner. I go with Sam Raimi’s version, solely for the reason that it’s arguably one of the greatest cult classics of all time. But for those who have never seen the 80’s film, they will most likely be bigger fans of the newest release.  Both films are absolutely worth watching.

One more thing for the fans: there are plenty of references and nods to the series that will be more than appreciated.

I give both films a solid 4 stars.