To celebrate the home entertainment release of Fede Alvarez EVIL DEAD, THN were lucky enough to put some questions to the director of the controversial reboot of Sam Raimi’s notorious 1980 splatterfest. The film was a huge theatrical hit that was both genuinely refreshing, while paying homage to the beloved (and bloody) cult franchise. Having the original filmmaking team of Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell producing, we were sure we’d be well rewarded with another hit of horror and as such, EVIL DEAD was arguably one of, if not the best, genre effort of 2013.
How were you approached for the film and what was it that made accept the challenge?
It was basically through Sam himself. He saw a short or mine that I did back home in Uruguay in 2009 called PANIC ATTACK and he loved it. He started talking about the short and that he wanted to do something with me. About developing a film based on the short but asked at the same time if I’d like to do an EVIL DEAD film for him. He was looking for a director to do a new EVIL DEAD film for a long time and we get along pretty well and he thought I was the right person to do it, I don’t know why, that’s a question to ask him but basically he asked if I would like to do it and me being a big Sam Raimi fan and as a kid being a big EVIL DEAD lover, it was something I would never have been able to say no. He gave me a chance to tell a story about the cabin, the kids and the book and gave me all the freedom in the world and said you can do whatever you want as long as you have the book and the cabin I think the rest is your responsibility. So it fascinated him to go to that place and tell a new story.
Was there any pressure from the studio or Sam even himself to include the beloved character of Ash?
They didn’t want to have Ash in the film and it came from my idea of the film too when Sam asked me what to do with it. What was the story that I felt to be the right one necessary to today and I thought as a fan of the original EVIL DEAD that I would never want another actor playing Ash. It was something that just felt wrong and Bruce wasn’t a well known actor at least, maybe today but not back then but I just thought it was an impossibility. So we decided to create a new group of characters and there was never pressure on that side, simply because they all agreed, and Bruce Campbell himself as a producer didn’t want to have a new actor jumping into his shoes trying to imitate Ash, right. So it felt the right choice not to have Ash in this one and just try and create the characters. I think eventually, in fact Sam always says he wants to make a new one. He wants to make another EVIL DEAD and that’s the one I think we’ll see Ash coming back to the screen.
Was it always your intention to go with practical effects as opposed to CGI?
Oh Yes! I think as we were writing the story I wanted it to have the same feel as if it was filmed back in the 70s. I wanted to have something that felt classic and timeless, and that would mean not having any super-fancy modern visual effects. That’s why when we finally came down to pre-production and really shoot the movie, that’s what I felt. We can pull this off without using CGI. It’s what we ultimately did and I think it worked great. At the beginning I just thought it was going to be a ‘romantic’ concept, with just me and the people involved in the film would see it that way. But fortunately, it was a surprise to see there was a big audience out there that really appreciated that we did it that way and cared about that.
The whole cast went through some intense scenes, which must surely have been gruelling. Did they have any clue as to what they were in for?
I don’t think they knew, no. First of all, not all of them were familiar with the original EVIL DEAD. Which I thought was a good thing, you know. In a way it was easier for the actors to jump into the story and create their own characters without knowing where to step in. If I were to tell them, that would be like stepping on sacred ground and scare the shit out of them. So it was better, I think, for some of them to not really know what was an EVIL DEAD movie all about but some of them were fans. Jane Levy, particularly, didn’t know what it all was. She’s really cute right, so that’s certainly understandable (laughs) but no, I don’t think they had any idea about what to expect. I remember during pre-production, Bruce Campbell sent them all an email explaining what they were going to go through and I remember them thinking Bruce was just being Bruce, being funny, joking at how brutal the shoot was going to be. But by day 10, they all realised how harsh and demanding it was to shoot.
With so much blood and wince-inducing scenes, were any of the cast or crew close to becoming involved in ‘accidents’ themselves?
Well, we all have to be as safe as possible during this thing. There was no accidents thank God (laughs). Everybody was worried about those things because it’s a horror movie and they are always stories of things going wrong but again thank God no body got hurt.
Bruce Campbell makes an appearance during the end credits. Was that your way of establishing your own version set in the same universe if you like, or just a playful nod for fans?
Basically, we wanted to say that Ash is part of that universe, right. Wherever he is, we’re unsure. We don’t know where he’s at. I thought it was interesting to let the audience know this guy exists in this universe and he’s aware of what’s going on, maybe. For me, it was a good way to let people understand this is not a remake or that it’s overriding any past stories. That this is something that’s happened over 30 years since the first one. It was kind of a parallel universe and its a story that feels like a remake but is more of a sequel, right. It helps having Ash at the end to understand that.
You’re working on a sequel at the moment. Can you give us hints as what to expect or where the story will go?
It’s still in the early stages. We’re just trying to figure out what is the best story to tell right now after this one. More importantly, we’re trying to figure out if there really is an actual relevant story to be told because all good sequels are the stories that needed to be told. It’s like when you finish the first ALIEN, you’re kind of reaching out at where she’s going to go after that even more. You want to see that character and follow that character wherever she goes after that. There are other stories that are ended and then they’re force a new story to start again, only in order to have a sequel. For us, it’s more important for the universe to tell them stories than just making a sequel for the sake of it. Like, “Oh the first one worked so lets make another one”. None of the people involved in this film think that way. It’s all about finding the right story and realising if it’s a story that need to be told. If we do that, there is going to be a sequel, if we don’t, there is probably not going to be one.
There is also word that you’re working on your own project titled MACHINA. Can you give any details on that?
That really is early and I’d prefer not to talk about it. We’re keeping all the details under wraps and that’s basically a movie we’re (partner Rodo Sayagues) writing. That’s all I can tell you.
Are there still plans or would you like to direct a full-length feature film based on your PANIC ATTACK short?
Yea. It something that’s always, and is actually, still being developed. Sam is attached as a producer. We want to find a way to do it but there have been so many alien invasion movies in the past couple of years, that’s why we said lets wait a little bit. It’s always about the right time with these things. I definitely want to do it and Sam wants to too because he loved the short and it will be great to find a way to tell that story in a longer, future version.
Finally, you obviously have a love for Sam’s EVIL DEAD trilogy. Is there a favourite?
Yea, the first one for me no doubt. It’s where it all started and it’s the first one I say and really made such a big impression for me when I saw it the first time. I was 12 years old and was a film like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was so unique and so different on many levels. I was never exposed to something like that in my life. It made such an impact out of the EVIL DEAD trilogy.
THN would like to thank Fede for his time. EVIL DEAD is released on DVD/Blu-ray from 12th August.