Bruce Campbell gets a cold embrace in 1981’s ‘The Evil Dead’
At first glance, the three movies that constitute Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy couldn’t appear more different. The original Evil Dead (1981) is vintage grindhouse horror, the 1987 sequel Evil Dead II is a gonzo-gory comedy, and the final outing, 1992’s Army of Darkness, is a goofball time-travel adventure. All they really seem to have in common is Bruce Campbell square-jawed hero Ash, and a centuries-old magical book that launches wave after wave of paranormal creatures against him.
Thanks to Josh Roush, we can see how the Evil Dead movies really do tell one story. The self-styled “multimediatician” has edited all three installments (along with a few select cut-scenes from three Evil Dead-inspired video games) into a single, nearly four-hour movie, which he bills as “The Ultimate Cut.” Roush outlines the entire process on his blog, explaining why he made certain choices — like using the ending of the theatrical version of Army of Darkness instead of the darker, funnier director’s cut — and pointing out the major sequences he had to drop to keep events on a consistent timeline.
Roush is working in the “fan edit" tradition of Topher Grace and the Vimeo-based Double Digit, both of whom produced condensed versions of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Grace’s encapsulation of Episodes I through III clocked in at a swift 85 minutes, while Double Digit’s was a more expansive three hours. Going even further back, Francis Ford Coppola himself combined his separate Godfather movies into a single picture not just once, but three times. The 1977 made-for-TV Godfather Saga combined the 1972 and 1974 movies, followed by a (slightly) shorter video version, The Godfather 1902-1959: The Complete Epic in 1981. Then, in 1992, he released The Godfather Trilogy: 1901-1980, which added The Godfather Part III into the mix. (Interestingly, neither of those single-movie cuts are currently available on DVD or Blu-ray; you have to hunt around for pricey out-of-print VHS and/or laserdisc editions.)
Campbell — brandishing his trusty “boomstick” — in ‘Army of Darkness’
In the case of both Star Wars and The Godfather, the general consensus was that the movies worked just as well — if not better — as one movie than three. But that’s an opinion that Roush doesn’t necessarily think applies to his “Ultimate Cut” of Evil Dead. “Is this a stronger movie?” he asks himself at the end of the post. “Yes and no. In the end, I personally prefer the theatrical version of the movies, but it must be said, this is a new and different way to experience them.” Hail to the king of honesty, baby.
Photo credits: Everett