Remake Wars: The Evil Dead (1981) vs Evil Dead (2013)

Remakes: Waste of time or chance to put right what once went wrong? This time round in the war between remake and original, it’s The Evil Dead v Evil Dead.

The original

The Evil Dead (1981)


The Evil Dead was Sam Raimi’s debut film as a writer and director and has since become an absolute cult classic, launching Bruce Campbell’s acting career.

Made on a very small budget (around $90,000, I believe), The Evil Dead was banned in some countries and was included on the elusive ‘Video Nasty’ list due to its violent content.

So, after successfully begging my parents to let me watch it when I was not the recommended age, I was amazed by how well it was made on such a small budget. It stayed with me for such a long time and instantly became one of my favourite films.

When the film was released, there was nothing like The Evil Dead on show, so when watching it you have to have respect the make up and visual effects of the day.

You wouldn’t guess it now, but the story is original for its time. Five friends go to a cabin and find a book and tape recorder, one of them listens to it and unleashes flesh possessing demons. One by one they get taken over. Like I said, original for its time.

During the film you don’t see the demons but only how they control the people they have possessed. The demons are violent but at the same time laughing at the suffering of others, creating a cruel, sadistically humorous tone.

As the movie was filmed entirely in one location it had to be something special. The woods look very sadistic and the fog that runs through makes it hard to see what is out there, leaving you cowering in a corner waiting for something to happen.

When watching the film back now, I feel the film and acting within the film make it seem like a horror-comedy so it’s not as scary as it used to be.

Perhaps this is the reason behind the re-make, maybe Sam Raimi wanted to scare the new generation in a more creative way as we wouldn’t find his original as intensely horrifying when it was first released.

The remake

Evil Dead (2013)


As I said, the original is one of my favourite horror movies, if not, one of my favourite films in general. So when I heard about the remake, I was initially a little dubious (to say the least).

However, finding out it was being produced by Sam Raimi, the writer and director of the original, my confidence was boosted. The when The Evil Dead’s main star Bruce Campbell became the re-make’s executive producer, I had hope.

Dropping the “The” for the title is not the only change. The storyline is also different. Here three friends go to a cabin to join David in helping his sister Mia (Jane Levy) overcome her heroin addiction. One of them finds a book made from flesh that, when secret words are spoken, raises a possessive demon leaving the five of them in trouble.

The film kicks off straight away with a woman being chased through the woods, getting your adrenaline going. She is caught and a ritual is performed on her to get rid of the demon in her.

When the ritual is complete, we are taken to the main event and what follows is a gore filled extravaganza. Though it’s not just a gore film, something about it made me feel uneasy throughout.

The colours used in the film were very effective, making the woodland look serene but at the same time terrifying. The characters were played well for actors I haven’t seen before.

One of the main challenges for the film is the demon that takes over Mia and how is is portrayed, as this character in the original is one of its main stand-out points. I have to say Levy played her uniquely and just as sinister.

The original was banned in some countries due to the violent rape scene in the woods (or should I say by the woods *shudder*) and the violence throughout. Luckily, the BBFC are a tad more lenient nowadays so this allowed director Fede Alvarez to up the gallons of blood and gore used in the film.

I must say some of the scenes can be unsettling and very realistic, one that has stuck in my mind (and doesn’t look like it wants to leave) is when a possessed Mia slowly slices her tongue in half and forces the flowing blood down the throat of another girl.

What is good about this remake is that it isn’t a scene-for-scene copy and the storyline and outcomes are different. They do pay tribute to the original by including voices and sounds from the from it.

However, the film is not perfect. Throughout the film the friends one by one get taken over and instead of becoming demon-like they seem to become zombie-like, giving the film a different vibe.

Furthermore, I feel the ‘Demon voices’ that are sometimes used sound like every other generic demon in other horror films, something which could have been improved.

When going to see this film, you should not go with the original in mind, the original now seems more like a black comedy horror where as this looks more like a serious take on the cult classic.

There is a lot I want to say about this film but you could not experience the film in the same way if I did.

This isn’t a horror film that sets out to make you jump but uses the location, suspense and storyline to scare you. All in all a worthy remake and I must say it’s one of the best horror films I’ve seen in years.

Not for the faint-hearted.

The verdict


Daniel Geeves


Evil Dead is out now.

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