If you’re a horror fan like me, one franchise that is probably very near and dear to your heart is The Evil Dead. After checking out the franchises newest offering, the remake if you will, titled simply Evil Dead, I got some time to speak with Fede Alvarez the first-time feature director about his experiences directing the film.
It was great chatting with Fede, who is a big fan of the series in a way you rarely see when it comes to these sorts of things. It was very apparent he was just as much of a fan of the series as I was and I really think that shows on screen. So enjoy the interview and I really hope you check out Evil Dead when it hits theaters next week! Trust me you WON’T be disappointed.
So, you were originally signed to do just any picture with Ghost House when did the decision get made to transition that into Evil Dead?
First it was anything, it was a blind deal.
Then that ended up being an adaptation of my short into a feature, which we are actually still developing it and that maybe my next movie actually. It’s this super hard R, violent alien invasion movie, because the alien invasion movies are done in this friendly PG-13 way. I want to see the brutal and realistic one that has never been done before. That is what we want to do and hopefully it’s going to be the next one.
Through that process we had so much fun at the table talking about how that film should be and talking ideas and scenes in general and Sam offered me Evil Dead because of that relationship. But he said I should write it, because Evil Dead is a filmmaker film. What makes the original great is it’s a guy going to the woods with his friends to go bananas and try to make the scariest movie ever. Its completely an author film, the guy who writes it, directs it.
That is why he never thought it would work under the studio system. Five different writers doing five different drafts and then some director would come in shoot the film, do his cut and disappear. That is how it’s done and he wanted someone to stay with the film to the last minute, that is what I did.
How excited were you to be working on Evil Dead?
Well, I have to admit it was both exciting and scary at the same time. But it was awesome. I remember in the early stages, somehow I ended up at Bruce Campbell’s house in Miami staying with him for a week. We were at the pool and he is just telling me Evil Dead stories, it was insane.
It was so bizarre and super surreal. I have been a fan of Sam Raimi’s films since I was a kid, and if you’re a fan of his films you’re always looking for Ted Raimi or the car. You know his entourage of actors.
Knowing that universe and suddenly working on one of those films and being part of that family has been great. Getting really close to Bruce, Rob and Sam has been a blast.
You’re obviously a genre fan, what was it like being a fan and going into this process doing a big Hollywood film?
It’s something I never expected.
For starters there is this one thing I always thought especially as a fan, is that Hollywood chooses to make these bad movies before good ones. They have all these great scripts and they still make the bad ones just to make money. They have to make a lot of movies, because they have a lot of people who work in that industry and there are not enough good scripts.
Those movies that get made are guaranteed the best ones, so just imagine the bad ones. (Laughs) You don’t want to know.
So that is something I was always bitching about, like why aren’t they making better things? But that option doesn’t exist, you have to come in and do it yourself. They are very eager and desperate for new talent and new ideas. That is something that really changed my perspective. No one tries to make bad stuff, good stuff is just so hard to find.
When writing The Evil Dead was it tough to decide what to homage and what you are trying to say with your film?
The whole process is tough. Writing a film is tough. If it was easy there would be awesome films every weekend. At the end of the day it was a challenge, but being a fan of the films I naturally wanted to bring so many things from the original films all of the time.
I think they were trying to stop me at some point from bringing so many things. But for me I thought it was important to have many different references to the original film.
How intense was the casting process and what were you looking for in the actors chosen?
It was a lot of fun, but really intense. Bruce Campbell was with me all the time, which was great, because he was intimidating to some of the actors when they would walk into the room. He would scare everybody when he would start talking about what it mean for an actor to make an Evil Dead film, which is a really tough thing, believe me.
I wasn’t just looking for the best actors I could find, but the people who had the balls to do it. There are people in Hollywood you know could be great, but just aren’t up to the challenge.
Finally, I really saw this film as more of a sequel than simply a remake, was that at all intentional?
Yeah, I didn’t want this film to override anything that was done before and take the place of the original Evil Dead in the mythology at all. We were very careful not to do anything in this film that would contradict the original film.
In my mind, I don’t want to geek out about this too much, but the first film is one thing and the second and third is another film. Because it kind of rebooted, it’s not about Ash with his friends, its about Ash with his girlfriend on this romantic getaway; which is completely different from going with your friends.
Then he plays the tape and she turns and there are all these other characters that come in, so its quite different story. If you watch it again you will realize it’s completely different. Then he goes to medieval times and comes back, at least in the theatrical version.
But in the first film everyone dies. Ash is coming out of the house and the camera runs to him and he screams, so he never left the cabin and the car is still there. So in a way you can take this film as 30 years later and new characters show up. Maybe someone bought the cabin at some point, and the car was always there and that is why the book was there and found it’s way back to the cabin again.
But it’s definitely crafted that way, in a way it is definitely a retelling and you have so many coincidences if you compare their story with the original. But the book is involved so it would have created that situation in a way.