After many, many years of keeping their rabid fan base guessing about whether an Evil Dead 4 or an Evil Dead remake (or both, or neither) would ever arrive, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell announced this week that a remake is in production. This isn't good news for those who had their hearts set on seeing Raimi inflict some punishment on Campbell once again but I, for one, feel relieved.
The idea of Campbell reprising his signature role in another Evil Dead film strikes me as a depressing prospect, one best avoided. Career-wise, Campbell doesn't need to play Ash again - he's part of a successful show as a cast member of USA's Burn Notice in addition to doing voice work for animated films like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Cars 2. At this point it'd be a mistake for him to strap on the chainsaw again. I'm sure that some fans will keep clamoring for a sequel for as long as horror conventions are held but I'm hoping that ship has permanently sailed.
As for the remake, this is definitely a case where age, experience, and added resources could lead to an improved film. As a shining example of DIY resourcefulness, the original remains admirable but as a movie it isn't so thrilling anymore. Raimi already left it in the dust with Evil Dead 2 but that was, by design, a jollier, jokier take on the material. A new Evil Dead that's hellbent on scaring audiences rather than mixing gore and guffaws is something I want to see.
Writer/director Fede Alvarez is an untested commodity but I have faith that Raimi, Tapert, and Campbell have entrusted their film to the right guy. And the idea of Diablo Cody contributing to the script sounds fine to me. If nothing else, it's funny to think of an Oscar winning screenwriter penning an Evil Dead movie. I actually liked Cody's uneven but interesting Jennifer's Body so I do believe she has some credentials as a horror buff.
Once the classic - and even not-so-classic - horror films of the '70s and '80s began to be remade, it wasn't a question of whether The Evil Dead would be remade but when. But unlike the botch jobs that films like Halloween or A Nightmare on Elm Street endured, I think that the new Evil Dead has a better-than-average chance of actually surpassing the original.