Essentially the first remake of Evil Dead, the 1987 movie retraces and revises the story of cult icon Bruce Campbell’s Ash as he heads to that famous cabin in the woods and then adds a whole new set of victims alongside our hero. The mark of a great film is that it doesn’t show its age and Raimi’s movie still feels as fresh as ever.
Campbell is at his cartoon caricature best as the bug-eyed Ash trying to retain his sanity when fighting zombies, spirits sent forth by the Book of the Dead and even his own murderous hand! With chainsaw antics and physical comedy inspired by The Three Stooges as well as brilliantly creative special effects, Raimi’s film remains a class act and a genre classic.
Also on the radar for a modern remake, though apparently having got no further than rumours a few years ago about Saw director Darren Lynn Bousman being hired, David Cronenberg’s dystopian favourite Scanners also gets a re-release this month. One of Cronenberg’s very best movies, 1981’s Scanners also stands the test of time.
Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers star Stephen Lack plays Cameron, a troubled drifter with psychokinetic powers who is convinced to take part in a government programme by the shady Dr Ruth (The Prisoner’s Patrick McGoohan). The perma-villain Michael Ironside, though, as bad apple psychic Darryl Revok, has other ideas.
Nicely creepy and with some great squirmy moments involving skin melting, bodies breaking and heads, well, you’ll know when you get to that famous scene, Cronenberg’s film, with a brilliantly ‘80s score by a young Howard Shore, retains all its diabolic power.
Sadly moving on from the nostalgia of two greats, we now have to focus on two new releases that badly let the side down. First of these is writer and director Stuart Urban’s unwanted Kevin Bishop vehicle, the widely-panned May i Kill U?
Supposedly a comedy horror about a murderous bicycle-riding policeman, there is plenty of horror (script, direction and plot are all pretty shocking), though very little to laugh about.
TV comedian Bishop (Star Stories, The Kevin Bishop Show) is adequate as a policeman turned vigilante, taking out ASBO-types in violent ways and tweeting updates for his ghoulish online fanbase. There are hints of relatively intelligent satire regarding social media and crime mixed with Psycho-style mother-hate emotional insight, though unfortunately this is too far buried beneath irritating visual gimmicks and unrelentingly boring grimness.
Rounding off this lineup, we have the irredeemably bad Australian Saw-alike 6 Plots. A teen-slasher flick featuring six friends locked in coffins in mystery locations across a small town as our hero tries to work out where they are, this comes across like one of those bonkers episodes of Neighbours where an evil offspring of Paul Robinson has turned evil as the music gets slightly dramatic.
Flimsy characters you really don’t care about in the slightest are bumped off one by one in cheap, un-showy TV movie-fashion as the viewer drifts off to sleep, dreaming about further re-releases of decades-old classics.
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