There’s more than a little pressure on director Fede Alvarez. Not only is he making his first feature length with two of the biggest legends in the horror business, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, but he’s remaking one of horror’s most precious films, Evil Dead.
“I watched it when I was twelve and it was one of the movies that traumatized me the most. You’re not supposed to watch that,” Alvarez said.
In his opinion the most visually shocking part was the rape.
“When you’re 12 you go, ‘Oh mama, what’s going on?’ You barely know what that is and the worst part is, it seems like she’s enjoying it. So, I got everything upside down.
Honestly, that was shocking, but the thing that really scared me back then was the idea of going with your loved ones to some place isolated from society. You go with your best friends and family and they all turn against you and they want to kill you. It is a very, very scary feeling … that feeling of being lonely and hopeless and everyone’s against me. When I was a kid that hit me very hard. Oh my god, he’s alone and helpless. That’s exactly what our movie’s about,” he said.
His take on the story has a female lead, played by Jane Levy, but despite the change in sexes, it draws thematically from The Evil Dead.
“I wouldn’t call Jane the female Ash,” he said. “Not at all; it’s a completely different story. The way the story evolved is different, but the themes are the same … The original one is a lot about women driving men crazy. Most horror movies are the other way around, a girl running and a guy with an axe chasing her and the lead is a girl. Evil Dead, if you think about big horror movies, is one of the few where the protagonist is a man. And we kept all of that. You have to see the movie, the men are still terrorized and traumatized by women. Attacked and brutalized on every level.”
Alvarez said that though Raimi directed the original, he and Campbell were hugely supportive of the new vision and gave him almost complete control over the process.
“They really gave me all the freedom any director could want ... It was all about do it, yes, go for it. So, we made a movie that was very different from the everyday remake a studio makes.”
That freedom included using practical effects almost exclusively and creating several new tools to make those effects look as real as possible.
“All the effects are 100% practical. We didn’t do any CGI. Everything you’re going to watch - all the gore and the horror - everything you’re going to see is real.
We investigated a lot of magic tricks and how magicians play illusions. We approached most of the things like that. We created new techniques … We didn’t want to create anything that was fake. You’re never going to see anything in the movie that is not real. We did a mix of real illusions and when we had to do some effect it’s very old school. It’s more about deleting things, which is way different than creating a CG creature … There’s never going to be something in front of your eyes in the movie that you’re like, ‘Ah that’s fake,’” he said.
As for the ongoing debate about a possible Bruce Campbell cameo in Evil Dead, Alvarez was uncertain. It’s really a case of he said, he said, but it should be noted that his answer is definitely different than Campbell’s “no.”
“They’re saying many things but I definitely want him to be in it. It’s not because of me. That’s still a thing that remains to be seen,” Alvarez said.