Return of the Evil Dead

The evil Templar are back, and this time they’re more pissed! Rising from the grave once again 500 years after being put to death by a mob of Portuguese villagers, the Templar are back for revenge. Being blinded during their execution, the zombies must track their prey by sound. As the village revolts against their undead oppressors, a small group holes up in the local cathedral as they try to wait out the undead masses until dawn when legend says they will return to their eternal slumber.

Murdo!

A long while back (holy crap, over a year ago!), I took the plunge after I had read all of the hype surrounding this series, and sat down to watch Tombs of the Blind Dead, the first foray into blinded zombie Templar by director Amando de Ossorio, and unfortunately walked away disappointed. So with the taste of disappointment strong in my mouth, I put off my viewing of the Return of the Evil Dead, fearing much of the same. After reading Taliesin’s in depth account over at Taliesin Meets the Vampires, I learned that the subsequent films in the series are all different from the previous incarnation, and figured it was time to take the plunge once again.

Happily, he was indeed right.

Return of the Evil Dead reinvents the Templar Knights, in a completely different origin from the original, Tombs of the Blind Dead. This time around our satanic knights are run down by the villagers, tired of the Templar sacrificing their loved ones. As the last living templar vows to return to seek revenge, the villagers burn out their eyes to prevent them from being able to locate them upon their return. In the original film, the Templar’s eyes are plucked by scavenging crows as the corpses are left to rot in the sun. Minor details yes, but it’s a reinvention of the wheel for sure.

Dead Guys

Plot changes are not the only difference however, and in the end, Return of the Evil Dead was a different viewing experience as well. Whether intentional or not, there is a fare share of laughs throughout the sequel, where as the first was rather dry and a bit boring. From the Torgo inspired role of Murdo, bizarre and crippled churchyard care taker, to the directors obsession with rape and sex, there are many reasons to laugh out loud throughout this zombie fest. I would lean towards this being unintentional of course, but despite that, it can’t be helped.

Besides the aforementioned Murdo, the soundtrack its self is a bit bewildering at times. For me, a good movie soundtrack is one that blends in well with the scene, making it’s presence known, however willing and able to blend into the background almost to be forgotten, creating a ‘total package’ out of a given scene. In Evil Dead, the sound track at times was a glaring enough departure to break one’s involvement in the viewing experience. Imagine if you will a tense moment of survivors lamenting their plight to one another, trying to decide just how to get past these ruthless zombies, to the soothing strains of Little Spanish Flea. Now, of course it wasn’t actually Little Spanish Flea, but that is definitely what the soundtrack evokes in mind. WTF indeed.

The final comedic stand out for Evil Dead is director/writer Ossario’s apparent obsession with sex. While there is no real gratuitous nudity, the sexual themes are strong, and some might say a bit disturbing in them selves, and definitely out of place. With two attempted rapes in both of the films I’ve seen so far, the man seems to like him some rape. Not a genuine plot devise in our tale of zombie revenge, one has to question just what exactly is the point? Both times are women on the run from the zombies, holed up with a fellow evacuee and both times it is thrown in as an aside that holds no direct bearing on our plot. In Evil Dead, we also see an apparent fetish for older men/younger women and the classic boss/secretary scenario. From the small villages mayor and his jealousy over his young (well…she’s ‘acting’ young) ‘private’ secretary flirting with her ex boyfriend (the fireworks specialist hired for the festival, natch) we catch a strong glimpse of an old man wanting in the pants of his young (remember, she’s ‘acting’ young) secretary. Throw in the mayor’s body guards attempted rape of said secretary mentioned above, and this poor woman has men pawing at her left and right, literally! From here we jump to the governor’s mansion as the mayor calls for help, and guess what? The governor has himself a sexy young secretary too! With a bizarre comedic nod from the ditzy secretary as she adjusts her pj’s and bends over to plug in the phone, we’re right back to the boss/secretary fetish once again. (We see her sleeping in bed with the governor later on of course.) While I’m all for sexy secretaries and boobage, there’s a time and a place for sex scenes, but not in the middle of a zombie Templar onslaught. If they are going to die in the classic rule of ‘those who have sex will die’ as seen in Friday the 13th or Scream, sure sex it up. But when you throw in the fact that the old man in the state capital is pulling tail, just for the sake of showing him pulling tail? You’re stretching it. But, maybe I’m just a prude. Maybe I’m just bitter over the lack of topless scenes presented by said secretaries. Regardless, we know one thing for sure. Amando Ossorio sure likes him some sex. And secretaries.

Natives!

Return of the Evil Dead is a departure from the original film, reinventing the Knights Templar. More enjoyable than the previous incarnation, the film stands out for its unintentional laughs. The story line is more or less the same at the roots of the film, throwing in some mild gore and unhappy zombies. Where the original concentrated out a small number of people, this time around our Knights are facing an entire village, giving us an extra dose of carnage and mayhem. Still failing to be very scary at all, the movie is a fun nomination for drunken MST3k escapades, and makes the series take a step closer to all of the internet hype floating about. Fans of horror so bad it will make you laugh, this is a good place to get them. Bottom line, this still isn’t a good film, but it was far more enjoyable that the chore of Tombs of the Blind Dead.

2.5 horny governors out of 5

Sex?

Come to think of it, I think I need a secretary too! Send resumes with included photo to the email listed above! Just uh…don’t tell the Mrs.!

I kid…I kid…unless you’re redheaded, sexy and ditzy.

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