As opening day for Evil Dead draws near – Fede Alvarez’s remake of Sam Raimi’s iconic 1981 video nasty – fans are inching closer and closer to also seeing the latter return to the beloved series he created back in 1981.

Recently, word got out that Raimi and his brother (ostensibly Ivan) were planning to start work on a script for Evil Dead 4 this summer – news that became a little more real courtesy of Robert Tapert, the man who produced not only the original Evil Dead films but many other entries in Raimi’s filmography.

Speaking with Shock Til You Drop this weekend at South By Southwest, Tapert, Raimi’s long-time collaborator cleared up any concerns about the existence of two Evil Dead franchises competing with one another and amended Raimi’s original remark with a statement of his own. It turns out that the Raimi brothers’ intention wasn’t to write a treatment for Evil Dead 4, but rather a direct sequel to the medieval fantasy-influenced Army of Darkness– which for some fans represents the pinnacle of the Evil Dead series.

Here’s the direct quote from Tabert:

“That would be Army of Darkness 2 […] Everybody calls it Evil Dead 4 but Army of Darkness wasn’t called Evil Dead anywhere except by the fans.”

For Evil Dead enthusiasts, the distinction matters. While all three of Raimi’s Deadite-strewn splatterfests tie together on common themes and a continuous narrative, each entry has its own style and character that separates the three films from one another. The Evil Dead strives to unsettle its audience with unfeeling brutality and copious amounts of gore; Evil Dead 2 straddles the line between gore and comedy, and to this day remains one of the best examples of the “splatstick” genre; and Army of Darkness goes all the way over that boundary, playing far more to Raimi’s comedic proclivities than his habits as a horror filmmaker.

The potential for a second Army of Darkness film raises one very important question: if the movie does happen, will Bruce Campbell come back to serve as hapless protagonist Ashley J. “Ash” Williams once more? More than the films themselves, Ash has risen to the loftiest peaks of genre iconography over the last thirty plus years, so the idea of revisiting that world without him seems unthinkable. Fortunately, STYD also had the opportunity to pick Campbell’s brain at SXSW, too, and he had this to say:

“Sam threatens this every six months […] I’ve heard this a thousand times, because in the back of his mind, he never wants to let go, because he loved making these movies. We all loved making them together. They were a nightmare to make, very difficult, but they lasted the test of time, so he’s not going to let that go, and I’m never going to say ‘no.’ It’ll be me and a walker fighting some other old guy. But that’s what he does and who knows? It may happen.”

If the Raimis really are crafting a screenplay for Army of Darkness 2, and if Campbell does indeed come back (as Raimi says he must), then we may see certain long-held fan speculations about a continuation of that film come to fruition. Theoretically, a sequel could see Ash’s hilarious and bloody misadventures in the future, following up on the alternate ending (which Raimi happens to favor) where he winds up putting himself in a magical coma and snoozing through the apocalypse. At present the movie has no shape, so it’s too early to rule out the possibility that Sam’s new picture will tie into Alvarez’s – but dollars and cents likely will dictate that the two franchises remain separate in tone and sensibility.

With the rising fervor building up over Alvarez’s upcoming reinterpretation of The Evil Dead – the first reviews have already started coming in, and there’s already a sequel in the works – it’s easy to forget that more than two decades have passed since Raimi directed Army of Darkness.

All that said, it seems like the perfect time for Raimi to flex his muscles in the mode where he made his name to begin with. Tell us what you think, Screen Ranters- do you find the idea of another Army of Darkness flick tantalizing?

Evil Dead arrives in theaters April 5th, 2013.

Source: Shock Til You Drop