The cinematic “rebirth” of the ’80s cult horror classic Evil Dead premiered late Friday night at the SXSW Film Festival to a raucous reception from the bloodthirsty crowd. And good grief, did they get a lot of blood — two tanker-trucks of it, according to director Fede Alvarez. That’s 100,000 gallons of fake blood, and it’s not the only unsettling revelation we learned about this movie while in Austin. Here are seven (well, more like six) more.
(WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!)
1. Being covered in blood really is the worst.
The film follows the unfortunate exploits of five twentysomethings in a ramshackle cabin in the woods who gather to help their friend Mia (Jane Levy) kick her drug habit. When Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) comes across a book of the dead and reads from it, he unleashes a demonic force that possesses Mia’s body and rips up her soul.
Which meant everyone was constantly bombarded with jets of blood.
So. What was that like? “Sticky,” says actress Elizabeth Blackmore (Legend of the Seeker), pictured above.
“It’s actually the most uncomfortable part about [making the film],” adds Levy (Suburgatory). “I swam through a swamp. I got buried alive. But the constant blood on your chest and under your chin and on your neck and crusted to your skin? Not fun.”
The experience was especially difficult for Pucci (Southland Tales), who had fought for his academically inclined character to sport long hair and a grad-student beard. “The dumbest idea ever,” he says with a laugh. “It looked really good, but man, that beard was caked in blood every single day.”
2. The book of the dead had hair on it. HAIR!
Called the Necronomicon in original 1981 The Evil Dead, the literally devilish book that causes everyone in the film such heartache had a slightly different look in the new version. Rather than sporting a goulish demonic face, explains Pucci, “it was just this disgusting, sewn-together skin that had hair on it.” He laughs. “It was so nasty. It’s hard to see [the hair] because it’s only in a couple shots, but man, that thing was nasty.” He pauses. “I really want to grab a page out of it take it home. Frame it. But I didn’t.”
Did he learn nothing from the movie?!
3. Actress Jessica Lucas was resurrected to attack Lou Taylor Pucci.
It’s no shock to learn that each character dies off one by one as they are possessed by the demon unleashed by Pucci’s character. For Lucas’ character, it meant at one point she had to crawl along a bathroom floor attacking her onetime best friend.
“She was so angry,” says Pucci with a laugh.
“Well, you do it for the 20th time, it gets a little uncomfortable,” says Lucas with a smile.
Actually, Lucas wasn’t initially supposed to do it at all. “The second half of the bathroom scene where you see me crawling was [shot] months later,” she says. “I was there [on set] for six weeks. I had wrapped the film. I went home. And right near the end [of production] I got a call saying, ‘You have to come back. We want to extend [the scene].’”
“It was so worth it,” adds Pucci.
4. Jane Levy was really crying when trapped in the evil molesting tree.
Fans of the original film know of the creepy living brambled tree that molests one of the female characters — a fate that befalls Levy’s Mia in the new film.
“I was actually crying during that whole entire thing, like really crying,” says Levy. “Not because, ‘Oh, poor me!’ But I was in it, and it hurt. It was scary.” She smiles. “But I’m a toughie.”
5. Actress Elizabeth Blackmore enjoyed slicing off her own arm.
“It was really fun!” says Blackmore of having to slice off her demon-possessed arm (another shout-out to the original Evil Dead series). “It was great! When do you get to do that?!”
6. Shiloh Fernandez arrived in Austin with a righteous shiner.
“Bruce Campbell punched me,” says Fernandez (Red Riding Hood), who plays Mia’s older brother.
“He’s kidding,” says Levy.
Fernandez shrugs. “It’s a better answer than ‘I fell.’”
7. Bruce Campbell, star of the original “Evil Dead” movies, contributed to the new film’s sound design.
OK, this isn’t disturbing — it’s just damn cool.
“We always like sound,” says Campbell, who produced the film with Evil Dead’s first director Sam Raimi and his producing partner Rob Tapert. “The first Evil Dead, we spent more time on the sound than on the picture. It’s a massive component to your movie. The visuals are half, but in a horror movie, the sound is the other half. It’s just fun to go back now and to play with the things we can do in a soundstage now that you couldn’t do back then. It’s just a personal interest.”
So what did Campbell do for the film? “I tormented Fede [Alvarez, the director],” he says. “I would present things to Fede and let him reject them. That’s basically the deal. That’s his job. He’s the acceptor or rejector. I sat with an editor. We’d spend four days coming up with what Fede called the ‘nostalgic’ effects. We digitized all the old sound effects [from the first film], so we had sheets available to put in. Some of it Fede was like, ‘Yeah, cool, put that in.’ Others, he’d go (laughing), ‘No! No, get rid of that.’ It was part of the homages to the original. There are a couple little sounds in there that most people won’t notice.”
Campbell is most proud of getting in the sound of a fly that opens and closes the film. “That was the idea of the original sound editor — if you were a fly on the wall, what story would you have seen? So it’s at the beginning of the movie and the end.”
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