Evil Dead: Interview with Sam Raimi

Why remake of Evil Dead?

Sam Raimi: When my partners, Robert Tapert, Bruce Campbell and myself made the original EVIL DEAD film, it was back in 1979, 1980 and 1981. We could only afford to shoot it in sixteen millimeter. The sound was mono. We couldn’t afford stereo, let alone 5.1 surround sound. And it was released in very few theaters, probably sixty prints were made. It only showed in certain markets on the big screen because it was an unrated picture. So very few people saw it on the big screen. And those that did, saw a compromised picture with compromised sound. And we really felt it was a good ghost story and deserved to be told once on the big screen with high quality visuals and great acoustic treatment. So, we decided to remake it because it is, after all, just a ghost story. It’s like a campfire ghost story that is best if somebody retells every generation. And, in this case, that storyteller is Fede Alvarez. He’s a great filmmaker, and I really loved the short film that he made. When I started to work with him on a different film which we never made, I saw what a great, talented individual he was and what a precise storyteller he was. And I thought, this is the guy I want to tell my ghost story, for the new generation, with pristine sound and picture, on the big screen – seen for the first time, like it was meant to be.

How important are the fans for this is a cult classic.

SR: It’s really important. The original EVIL DEAD almost never caught on. It was only through a group of individuals who found

it on video and then began to tell their friends about it and insist that they see it that the picture survived. And it allowed us to make a sequel, and then a part three called ARMY OF DARKNESS. And, in fact, this remake, some thirty years later. So the fans are everything in the case of EVIL DEAD. They’re the reason the picture survived, the reason we can remake it, and that’s the crowd we want to please. And I think this picture will give them what they seek in bloody spades.

Any surprises in store for these fans?

SR: There’s a lot of surprises because the picture isn’t a literal remake of the original. It’s inspired by, it’s based upon, but it’s got a whole new storyline. The situation’s similar: five kids go up to the cabin, they find the ancient Necronomicon, and one by one, they’re possessed. How they’re possessed, who they are, what their interactions are – are all new. So it’s going to be constantly surprising to the audience. And I think it’s going to deliver great shots and scares.

One of the key differences is that the central character was male in all the films he was in, and is now female.

SR: Well, in the case of the original EVIL DEAD, Bruce was my best friend back in high school and college, and I simply wanted him to star in the movie. So even though the norm was and still is to star females in horror pictures, I really wanted to work with the actor that I most trusted and knew would be great at it. In Fede’s new version of Evil Dead, he decided to have the female character be the lead. And he has both male and female possessed.

How closely did you work with Fede on this?

SR: I worked very closely with him, but gave him room to create everything he needed. For instance, I asked Fede and Rodo to give us a pitch of the treatment that they wanted to tell, and then I told them that I was planning to get another writer to write the screenplay. But their draft was so good, we decided to let them write the first draft screenplay. Rob, Bruce and myself gave them notes and they took those notes and incorporated them into a second draft. I think the same is true with the cut of the picture. I always maintained final cut, but Bruce, Rob and I really gave notes but never overrode Fede artistically, because we so respected his vision. And I think there has to be only one director on a picture. And it was him, always him.

Why New Zealand?

SR: My partner, Robert Tapert lives in New Zealand now. And, he’s got an excellent production crew that he has worked with on “XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS,” and “HERCULES”. Many of those people went on to Rob’s newest show, “SPARTACUS.” So he’s got a trusted crew that he works with.. And he knows the locations and, it just seemed to be the most logical thing to do, since he was the on-set producer.

Fede said that he wanted to do as much practical effect work as possible. The effects of the movie?

SR: Fede really did as much as possible with physical effects. I think he knows, because he owns that visual effects company, he knows that it’s a very valuable tool and when to apply that tool. And I think he felt that in this movie, EVIL DEAD, to make it gut wrenchingly real, he had to stay away as much as possible from CGI and really show the audience it was happening on screen. I think that was why he chose the route he did.

Fans that have never seen EVIL DEAD. What do you tell them to get to go to this movie?
SR: It’s the ultimate experience in grueling terror. I dare ya.