Fans of the the Evil Dead franchise have been hoping for an Evil Dead 4 or Army of Darkness 2 for two decades but it looks like they will have to wait just a little bit longer (or WILL they?). For now they’ll need to settle for a remake by director Fede Alvarez – and first reactions say, that’s not a bad thing.
Alvarez and company have not only managed to produce a horror remake that isn’t awful, but they did it while including several references to the original series of Sam Raimi directed films from the 80’s and 90’s – Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, and Army of Darkness.
We’ve identified three different types of head nods – prop nods, story nods, miscellaneous nods – and have found 23 of these References to the Original Series – some subtle, others blatant – to watch for in the remake.
WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS!
In the first Evil Dead, Ash (Bruce Cambpell), Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), Scotty (Hal Delrich), Linda (Betsy Baker) and Shelly (Sarah York) are all Michigan college students going to spend the weekend in the Tennessee woods.
In the remake, Mia (Jane Levy), David (Shiloh Fernandez), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) aren’t really college students but ARE from Michigan as they reference the city of Flint, MI and Mia is first seen wearing a sweatshirt with the word “Michigan” on the front.
There have been many rundown, rickety cabins filled with unspeakable movie horrors over the years but the cabin from Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic Evil Dead is as iconic as they come.
The first thing audiences see in the Evil Dead remake is the classic wooden cabin, complete with porch swing – teasing the impending doom that awaits.
The only real difference is the location of the cabins – Evil Dead 1 and 2 were in Morristown, TN and North Carolina respectively, while the Evil Dead remake is set in Weymouth, MA.
The classic 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 was originally purchased new by Sam Raimi’s father and has, with very few exceptions, been a part of the story or background in every one of Raimi’s movies. It can even be seen in some of the Coen brothers films (the brothers helped Raimi edit the original Evil Dead).
The car shows up at the beginning of the remake when we are first introduced to Mia (Jane Levy). Though it is rusted out and doesn’t play as integral a role in the film (compared to 30 years ago), it’s still nice to see it included.
Raimi’s tracking shot through the woods to portray the movement of “Evil” has become synonymous with the Evil Dead. To leave it out would be a travesty by remake director Fede Alvarez. Fortunately, the filmmaker not only makes liberal use of the technique, it’s also quite effective.
Just like Raimi’s cabin, the Alvarez cabin has a cellar door in the floor that, not only leads to death and decay, but also serves to barricade out those possessed by the Evil.
Like Raimi’s cellar door, which was chained down to keep the possessed from entering the cabin, the Alvarez cellar requires chains as well. Too bad it wasn’t until David’s girlfriend was attacked that he decided to break out those chains.
One of the most dramatic scenes in Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn is when Ash’s hand becomes possessed by evil and he decides to cut it off with a chainsaw to save himself.
The scene is teased in the beginning of the second act of the remake as we see the campers carving up a ham with an electric knife. While Natalie is in the kitchen collecting herself after being attacked by Abomination Mia, her hand becomes possessed and the camera pans to the electric knife – and the audience knows exactly what’s about to happen next.
Raimi made significant use of quick camera cuts in Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn to speed up time and show Ash doing different tasks – such as, attaching the chainsaw to his arm.
Alvarez does the same quick cuts in his film to show David building what turns out to be a defibrelator. It’s the only time in the film he does it – and it’s clearly directly inspired by Raimi’s original editing cuts.
The chainsaw has been a dangerous and deadly weapon used by various killers throughout the years. It wasn’t until Raimi attached one to the bloody stump of his hero, that the wood-chewing machine became a symbol of being an Evil killing badass.
While Mia, who is no longer possessed by a demon, is hiding from a freshly resurrected corpse in the storage shed, she has two weapons at her disposal to choose from – a rusty machete and a chainsaw. She chooses the chainsaw and eventually dispatches the demon in extraordinarily-bloody fashion.
Ash just wouldn’t be the same if he had both of his hands. If there’s going to be an Evil Dead movie then the lone survivor MUST lose an appendage – and that’s exactly what happened to Mia after the demon-corpse crushed her hand with a Jeep.
While running for her life, Mia obviously doesn’t have the time to strap the chainsaw to her stump but as one more homage to the original film she jams it into the handle in a badass, Ash-like manner.
In the first Evil Dead, Ash and his friends stumble across the Necronomicon and a tape recorder with a voice reciting ancient words that summon an unholy demon. In the second film, it’s revealed that the voice is that of archaeologist Professor Knowby (Bob Dorian).
During the credits of the remake, the same audio recording of Professor Knowby is once again heard verbatim.
This button scene at the very end of the Evil Dead remake really needs no explanation to the fans of the franchise – and that’s who it was intended for, the fans. There’s no reason to have Bruce Campbell show up, turn slowly to look at the camera and say “Groovy” but we’re sure glad he did.
The only thing that would have made it better is if he was wearing his S-Mart uniform.
In the first film, Ash is about to dismember his girlfriend Linda in the work shed with the chainsaw. However, when he see’s the necklace he gave her as gift he decides he can’t go through with the deed.
In the remake David gives his sister Mia a similar necklace – which she picks up from the ground at the end of the film.
In the first film, Ash’s sister Cheryl is sexually assaulted in the woods by the Evil using tree limbs. The same thing happens to Bobby Jo (Kassie DePaiva) in the second film.
In the remake, David’s sister Mia goes through a similarly shocking and horrible experience.
In the first film, Ash attempts to drive his possessed sister, Cheryl, back to town – only to find the bridge has been destroyed by something sinister.
In the remake, David discovers the bridge is also blocked – it has been flooded by rising water due from a rainstorm (instead of Evil directly having a hand).
In the first film, Ash discovers that burning the Necronomicon will “kill” the demons – forcing them back into Hell.
In the remake, David finds Eric trying to burn the Necronomicon in a trash can saying “For some reason, I thought this would end it all.” It didn’t.
The only thing more iconic than Ash’s chainsaw is his “Boomstick” – the Stoeger IGA 20″ 12-gauge shotgun from Army of Darkness. In the original Evil Dead, the shotgun was an H&R Pardner 20-gauge single barrel. In the second film, the shotgun was a Stevens 311-C 12-gauge double barrell
Though the firearm doesn’t receive a nickname in the remake, the same sawed off version of the gun from Army of Darkness appears in multiple scenes of the remake.
In the first film, Ash’s best friend Scotty is severely injured in a fight with possessed trees – then tries to kill Ash.
In the remake, Eric (David’s one-time best friend) is severely injured on multiple occasions. He also returns as possessed to kill David.
In the first film, after unsuccessfully attempting to dismember his girlfriend Linda with a chainsaw, Ash decides to bury her instead – he ends up chopping her head off with a shovel and watching her decapitated body prance off into the woods.
In the remake, David also comes to the realization that he can’t burn his sister Mia alive in the house. He decides that burying her alive would be a much better choice.
*It’s all Science – In the Army of Darkness, Ash is carrying science books in the trunk of his car. In the remake, Eric is a high school science teacher.
*Boiling Water – In Army of Darkness, Ash fights off mini-evil versions of himself with boiling hot water. In the remake, boiling water is introduced as a sign of possession in the Necronomicon – Mia scalds herself in a boiling hot shower.
*Low on Gas – In Army of Darkness, Ash’s ’73 Olds Delta 88 runs out of gas, as does his chainsaw. Even the tagline on the poster for the film says, “Trapped in Time. Surrounded by Evil. Low of Gas.” In the remake, when Mia is trying to fight the demon in the work shed she grabs the chainsaw but realizes it is out of gas.
*Dismemberment – In the first film Scotty dismembers his possessed girlfriend Shelly with an ax. In the remake, as Eric is flipping through the pages of the Necronomicon looking for a way to destroy the Evil, one of the pages suggests death by dismemberment.
*Fake Shemps – The use of “Fake Shemps” in films has been around since the era of The Three Stooges when Joe Palma was a stand-in for the suddenly deceased Shemp Howard. Raimi is such a huge fan of both The Three Stooges and using Fake Shemps that he lists 40 of them between all three films. In the remake, Alvarez continues that tradition by listing Fake Shemps in the credits.
*Man Playing a Woman – In second film, Professor Knowby’s possessed wife Henriette is played by a guy, Lou Hancock. In the remake, Abomination Mia is also played by a guy, Randal Wilson.
There may be more nods to the original series in the Evil Dead remake that we missed but these were the 23 that we noticed.
Were there any more that you saw? Share them with us in the comment section.
Want more Evil Dead? Stay tuned for our written review and an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors on the SR Underground podcast.
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