Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 3-9: West of Evil Dead Park

In Theaters

This week may be on the slack side — in fact, it is on the slack side — but it cannot possibly be as bad as last week. Last week’s three mainstream pictures marked a trilogy of tripe the likes of which I don’t need to see again any time soon (as in this century). I don’t even like thinking about last weekend, so let’s get on with this one.

There are only three movies opening this week — unless you count the Fine Arts bringing Chasing Ice back an opening. For that matter, it’s debatable whether or not Jurassic Park with a shiny new 3-D paint job really qualifies as a new release. (I can’t claim any great interest in rushing out to see it myself. Even in 2-D I mostly remember it as headache-inducing.) So a case could be made that there are only two movies opening this week.

One of the week’s movies is Amy Berg’s documentary West of Memphis, which I’ve already seen. It was the single bright spot in last weekend’s viewing — and that’s coming from someone who isn’t known for being wild about documentaries. The review is in this week’s paper. I’ll point out here — as I do in the review — that part of my enjoyment of the film may be due to knowing very little about the case under consideration and, as a result, the movie played like a suspense drama for me. (Mr. Souther tells me that if you grew up paying attention to music in the 1990s — which I obviously didn’t — not knowing about the West Memphis Three would be unthinkable.)

That brings us down to one movie, so let’s break out the Magic 8-Ball and take a look at it.

That one movie is the remake — or something like that (who knows these days?) — of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult favorite The Evil Dead. (This new film is merely called Evil Dead, so you can immediately tell it’s different.) It’s been some considerable time since I saw Raimi’s film, but my original memory of it — before it was any big deal — was that it was cleverly cheesy on a really low budget. (I may have reviewed it in The Official Splatter Movie Guide, but I don’t remember and I don’t know where the book is offhand. Five or six moves take their toll.) The new film isn’t by Raimi (he and Bruce Campbell are producers), but by someone named Fede Alvarez, a filmmaker from Uruguay known for his short films. At least two of these — Panic Attack! and El Cojonudo — are available on YouTube. The former is the more impressive (hey, it even gets an Odessa Steps Potemkin reference in its short running time). The latter, however, has more obvious connection to Evil Dead and it suffers from bad acting. Hopefully, the presence of better actors in Evil Dead will help. The plot — or at least the set-up — of young people in a secluded foolishly reading aloud from an old book is in keeping with Raimi’s original. The fact that Alvarez boasts of using floor effects rather than CGI is encouraging, as are the early reviews. Plus, it’s not like there’s an abundance of choices this weekend.

This week the Fine Arts is cutting Stoker to one show at 7 p.m., but The Carolina is holding steady on it. However, The Carolina is dropping Spring Breakers, which predictably dropped like a rock in its second week. (No word yet on whether the Biltmore Grande is holding onto it.) Somewhat surprisingly, On the Road did well enough at The Carolina to justify a second week, but I would not expect a third, especially with all the art titles slated for April 12.

Special Screenings

This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Edward L. Cahn’s It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) — a film that qualifies as the original, much cheesier, version of Alien — at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 4 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 (1963) on Friday, April 5 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Leo McCarey’s An Affair to Remember (1957) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 7 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Orbit DVD is running Jack Sholder’s The Hidden (1987) on Sunday, April 7 at 10:30 p.m. at the Admiral. The Asheville Film Society leads into next Friday’s release of Danny Boyle’s new film with his first film Shallow Grave (1994) on Tuesday, April 9 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all movies in this week’s Xpress with extended reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

Well, if you missed it when it was in the theater — and most of you seemed to — Don Coscarelli’s pretty darn wonderful John Dies at the End comes out on DVD this week. I’ll be adding it to my shelves for sure. Otherwise, this week on DVD is even more slack than the theatrical releases.

Notable TV Screenings

Continuing the pattern established by new releases and DVDs, this is just not a compelling week on TCM. In other words, you are on your own.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

12 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 3-9: West of Evil Dead Park

  1. Xanadon't

    Took me a while to come around on the Evil Dead remake, but after watching the trailer yesterday I think I’m ready to cough up my bucks.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Well, it pretty much looks like the original. I don’t have any particular reverence for the Raimi picture, but I suspect that was a wise move — at least for the trailer. And I like Jane Levy (Suburgatory is one of the few things I’ll at least half-assedly watch if it comes on TV when I’m around).

  3. Jeremy Dylan

    The 7th. Picking up the middle-aged anti-hero slack after JUSTIFIED wraps up it’s fourth season this week.

  4. Orbit DVD

    Have you heard anything about local theaters carrying UPSTREAM COLOR?

  5. Ken Hanke

    It’s likely for The Carolina. It might even be set, but I don’t think there’s a date yet.

  6. DrSerizawa

    ITTFBS has a neat little lesson about the dangers of smoking. And did you know that IN THE FUTURE that women scientists, no matter how qualified, will be required to serve the men their coffee on space voyages?

    This is out of left field, but last weekend I took my wife and daughter to a local Community College production of “The Evil Dead Musical”. I don’t know if it was any good because the sound was so bad that it was hard to make out much of the lyrics or dialog.

    The original Evil Dead though is an example of how much can be achieved with a 16mm camera and a few thousand dollars. It isn’t a great horror movie but it’s a good little horror movie. That’s more than you can say for most of the horror output in recent years…. most costing millions.

  7. Xanadon't

    It isn’t a great horror movie but it’s a good little horror movie. That’s more than you can say for most of the horror output in recent years…. most costing millions.

    Just finished watching it for the first time in a dozen or so years, and I agree. There are some nice touches when it comes to camera technique and creative use of props/imagery (the light-bulb filling up with blood was neat, for example). I was a bit surprised that it basically plays as straight-horror (though often of the gross-out, B-horror variety) and that what humor does exist in the original is mostly incidental. I guess it’s more so the sequel that explicitly goes for laughs.

    I probably don’t need to go out of my way to ever watch it again, but I was happy enough with my viewing selection for the evening and will almost certainly catch the remake sooner or later to see how it compares.

  8. Ken Hanke

    My memory of the original Evil Dead is that most of its humor is of the unintentional variety, with occasional splatstick intrusions. I really should watch it again…sometime.

  9. Me

    Cant wait for Upstream Color, have you heard anything about Simon Killer?

  10. Ken Hanke

    Till you mentioned it, I’d never even heard of it. It’s IFC. If it plays here, it’ll probably be at The Carolina.

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