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AUSTIN — The gates of Hell were opened to a new generation of filmgoers in Austin on Friday, as South by Southwest hosted the world premiere of Evil Dead — Sony’s slick, shockingly graphic remake of Sam Raimi‘s 1981 no-budget horror masterpiece. And judging by the cheers, screams and assorted gagging sounds coming from the packed house at the Paramount Theatre, the effort was a worthwhile one.
“We’re like proud uncles of this young man,” said Bruce Campbell, star of the original and a producer on the remake, of director Fede Alverez. The 35-year-old Uruguayan was hand-selected by Raimi to resurrect his signature film on the strength of Alverez’s 2009 short, Panic Attack!. “We’re glad we got him because we won’t be able to afford him much [longer],” Campbell added.
Raimi wasn’t able to attend the screening, being otherwise preoccupied with the opening of a “tiny, little independent film” known as Oz the Great and Powerful, Alvarez joked.
In theaters April 5, Evil Dead stars Jane Levy (Suburgatory), Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood), Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Elizabeth Blackmore as the film’s requisite cabin-in-the-woods bait. Like in the original, the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads to an orgy of demonic possessions and dismemberment — plus enough blood to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. But the film’s R-rating was not hard to come by, according to producer Rob Tapert.
“It really wasn’t a fight to get it through,” Tapert said. “That was really shocking and a blessing.”
During the late-night Q&A session, Alvarez revealed that he and co-writer Rodo Sayagues have already begun work on the script for Evil Dead 2, with Campbell later adding that the team envisions the films existing as another standalone trilogy.
Campbell, a lantern-jawed fan favorite, kept the crowd in stitches with a string of off-the-cuff one-liners (at one point he described the remake as “The Big Chill with carnage and mayhem”). But most of all he wanted to dispel any notions that a remake of the beloved original was tantamount to blasphemy.
“We were a little embarrassed seeing the green garden hose shooting s–t out,” he said of one particularly sloppy FX sequence from the 1981 version. “But are we going to go back like George Lucas and fix it? No.”
The line drew some of the loudest cheers of the night.
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