Alvarez insists that this isn't a remake in the generic sense; rather, it's just another movie in the "Evil Dead" universe. Moviefone chatted with the first-time "big" film director about how he approached this cult favourite, what tone he sought to achieve and what disgusting effects he's most proud of.
Moviefone: Watching this iteration of "Evil Dead" brought back all these memories of the original, which is funny because I could have sworn I'd never seen it. It turns out I repressed the entire thing. Your movie helped open the floodgates of horror. Alvarez: [Laughs] It's so funny that you say that. I've never confessed it, but it was the exact same for me. When I watched it for the first time, I must've been about 12, but then I completely forgot about it. It was such a bad, scary memory that I blocked it out. Then when I was 18, when "Dark Man" and "Army of Darkness" came out, I went to watch the first movie and I was like -- oh man, this one!
Particularly horrifying is the "tree rape" scene. Did you ever balk at including that? Actually, yeah, it wasn't in the original script. Originally we had the scene end where Mia [Jane Levy] looks up at the tree. But then, in post-production, Rob Tapert said, "We need the rape scene. It won't work without that scene." He convinced me to put it in, and I'm glad he did because I think it would have been lame without that in there. If she didn't get raped by the woods, I think people would have been disappointed.
The audience is definitely a force to be reckoned with -- how much pressure did you feel taking on this movie? I was more focusing on the fun part -- let's make an "Evil Dead" movie. I never thought about it as a remake. I never thought I'd take the place of the original film. I thought, "Let's make a movie in the 'Evil Dead' universe." I can use the book, I can use the curse ... but then I can get creative with some new characters. I was so happy to know that I was going to be a part of this amazing horror family. When you have Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert with you creating the film, there's no pressure at all about disappointing the makers of the original. They were right there with me!
That collaboration seems to work in this case -- the entire theatre was laughing and cowering in their seats. Obviously it's not a laughing movie, but you laugh if you "get" it. It depends on the audience and the mood at the screening. I've been to several different showings of the movie, and some audiences have been intense, and others have been laughing. At SXSW, for example, the gore fans were having a blast. It's the spirit of the film, too. It absolutely had to be outrageous. The trailer really highlights the serious part, so people have come up to me and asked, "Why did you make it serious?" It's hard to explain unless you've seen it, but it's not wholly serious. We decided not to take a side; let's just go out to the woods and film a very scary movie, but let's try to be as outrageous as we can, just like the original movie. If some people find it funny, great. If some people find it terrifying, awesome. It doesn't matter.
I think we're standing right on the line. If we went a little too far, it would be too comedic and the point would have been lost. I think we're right in between over-the-top gore and serious horror. I'm happy with the balance we achieve.
I think you've hit a perfect balance -- the movie is grotesque yet hilarious. What aspects (aside from the cabin and the tree rape) did you absolutely want to include in this version? Well, of course the book needed to be in there. And the one-by-one death element, too. It's such a good plot device, and it's in the original film. When Mia walks into the living room and says, "You're all going to die tonight," it's so effective and such a scary thing. When she starts screaming, you can hear -- we put it in the audio track -- the original omen from Cheryl screaming "One by one we will take you!" That was important for us to bring back.
The idea was to craft the movie in a way that a person who's never seen the original will enjoy it anyway, and the fans will enjoy it because of all the nods to the original and the details we included. We didn't want to use all the elements of the original just because.
You and I could talk about the amazing effects in this movie for over an hour, but are there any particular special effects that you're proud of? There were two or three. The cutting of the tongue was one. I didn't enjoy it while I was shooting it, because it looked so fake with this rubber tongue. It was fun to cut, but not to shoot, and ended up looking great. The cutting of the arm was awesome too, because it was my creation. What you see on film is exactly what everyone else saw on set. No special effects were used in post-production for that one. Lastly, the final scene is something I'm very proud of -- the rain blood. It's not part of the original and it's something completely new. And I think it's an iconic sort of image, with her at the end, covered in blood, fighting this demon.
Can you confirm that there will indeed be a sequel to your "Evil Dead"? Yes, definitely. We're already writing a new one, yes. It's going to be something you don't expect -- it's going to be something completely different. That's the nature of this saga; each "Evil Dead" is different from the previous one. These guys were always very brave to put out movies that were nothing like what people would expect. That's the goal with the next one, that we're not repeating the formula and going to a completely different place. That's what I think we're going to do.
"Evil Dead" opens in theatres on April 5.