Hail to the Deadites! On Fandom & The Evil Dead

21 Aug

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Playing at Fantasia Digital Film Festival 2020 On Demand till Sept 2. Buy your virtual ticket here.

We have plenty of documentaries made about how Sam Raimi‘s Evil Dead franchise still influences the horror genre. The latest, Hail to the Deadites, is specific about this famous film trilogy and goes in a different direction–it’s about the fandom than the films itself.

I wish there was more to the segment on Evil Dead the Musical instead of the cursory look. It’s rare to get an insight to why some theatre producers adapt a franchise to a live stage show and I’m just one of the lucky ones to know of a regional troupe who let me down the basement and reveal how they manage as they tour and perform in the Pacific Northwest. Strangely, Chris Bond, one of the creators behind this musical, was not interviewed. Instead, we have horror historian Michael Gingold, film professor Andre Loiselle and filmmaker Chris Alexander break down other parts of the fandom.

Hail_ONv01.10_12_08_14.Still043 copyMakeup artist Tom Sullivan (pictured right) and The Man with the Chin Bruce Campbell have significant screen time over Ted Raimi, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Sarah Berry, Rick Domeier and Bill Moseley. They all talk about how impressed they are with how big the fandom has grown.

Interestingly, Campbell laments about how some fans who wait hours to meet him don’t always chat when it’s their turn. At conventions, he makes the time to interact. At book signings, it’s understandable to keep the queue going. He surmises some folks are shy. Whether imitation is the sincerest form of flattery when considering those who love to dress up as their favourite character, that’s tough to say. Bri Cummings won the “Ultimate Evil Dead Fan Contest” and some fans are not always accepting. That’s also true for when the media reported the news of Ash being replaced by a female lead in Fede Alvarez’s remake. This documentary by writer/director Steve Villeneuve could have been a touch better had it spent more time on this subject.

He must have spent at least three years filming this work. Part of it included finding folks of interest as he’s interviewed many people and had to whittle the documentary down to key figures. Some of these folks are interesting, like the couple who fell in love at a horror convention, and others are not. The end credits cap off with a few afterwards inter-titles to update viewers on what has happened since. The takeaway here is in how the lasting power of any fandom persists good as long as we have new generations discovering a product line for the first time–which is the beating heart of this documentary.

4 Deadites out of 5

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