Welcome back, dear readers, to Voodoo Farming: A Not-Quite In-Depth Look At Zombies In Popular Culture.
So far I’ve covered a bunch of games and one book. I never intended VF to stick to any one particular medium – if it has zombies on it, then it’s potential material. So here we are at our very first movie review.
A lot of the material that I have covered so far has already been reviewed at one point or another. I don’t think I’m really doing anything particularly new here in the sense of reviewing games, books, movies, etc. – that’s been done for as long as these forms of entertainment have existed.
What I am doing different, however, is trying to present whatever I am viewing as if the situation really were to happen – as if the reader him/herself were there. I guess you could call it “Immersive Reviewing”. Sometimes I look at things from the perspective of being in the universe, and sometimes I look at things from an outsider perspective. (I find that if I don’t change things up a bit, I can get bored with a project quickly.)
Seven issues in, and I’ve already become bored with videogames and covered a book, music videos, and now, finally, a movie.
I wanted to pick a really good one, because if I mess this up than this is going to sully my reputation more than the time I ran down the street pantless, playing a flute and claiming to be the Pied Piper. So, I did.
Oh fuck yes, it’s The Evil Dead.
Five unassuming college students (Ash, Scotty, Cheryl, Shelly and Linda) decide to spend a little time in a cabin out in the boonies.
First, their car mysteriously tries to drive itself into an oncoming car, and Scotty just barely avoids an accident.
They then cross over a bridge that can only be described as ramshackle.
The preceding events happen in the first five minutes of the film. Slow, dramatic buildup this isn’t.
Despite the environment itself trying to off our five protagonists, they make it to the cabin just fine.
A cursory exploration of the place shows that the bridge was in much better condition than this house. It’s less of a cabin and more of a pile of wood that happens to be standing upright in the shape of a cabin.
The students all chill out. One of our ladies decides to sketch a picture, and her arm decides to flip the fuck out on her and draw a ragged picture of some kind of book.
So far, our heroes have had both their car and a bridge try to kill them. Now one of the girls is drawing something and not entirely under her own power. She is obviously freaked out by this.
At this point, any zombie movie aficionado would be gathering weapons, boarding up the house, never going anywhere alone, and sitting quietly on the floor in an outward-facing circle until daylight comes. Unfortunately, none of our protagonists seem to put the pieces together.
A trap door leading to the basement starts jumping up and down on its own. (Apparently, a severely crippled fight-or-flight response is a requirement for being a character in a horror movie.) After that, the lovable Ash heads downstairs and uncovers a book that has a cover that can only be described as “covered in flesh” and a tape recorder.
So of course, Ash does what any sane man would do: he cracks the mysterious book open, browses through it, and then starts playing the tape recorder. In the dead of night. In the middle of nowhere.
Curiosity didn’t just kill the cat, it killed a whole group of idiot college students.
Apparently, there were some demons who were taking a catnap for a few years or so, and they just woke them the fuck up.
Well, despite all the bad stuff that’s happened so far, at least everyone is smart enough to stay inside until the morning. I mean, nobody would be that stupi-
Oh son of a bitch. Hey, let’s investigate the mysterious, creepy sounds that are coming from outside! Surely this bathrobe and childlike curiosity will protect me!
After walking a fair enough distance from the cabin, the forest decides that it would like to cop a feel on Cheryl.
The Evil Dead may very well have the distinct pleasure of being the first horror movie that features tentacle rape.
Seriously. The forest grabs Cheryl, spreads her legs, and just outright rapes her. This is probably the most unpleasant scene to watch in the entire film, largely because of the mixing elements of crippling terror and sadomasochistic erotica.
If you believe another horror movie – or any movie – featured live action tentacle rape first, feel free to prove me wrong. I’m sure as hell not going to spend time searching online for tentacle rape, or watching movies to see if there’s tentacle rape, or even typing “tentacle rape” in Google. That’s the kind of shit that gets you put on government watchlists.
Cheryl smartly runs back to the house and tells her story to the other four housemates who have conveniently avoided being raped.
They think that she just got scared and freaked out a bit. Maybe she fell the wrong way on a whole pile of branches! Sure guys.
I have to step back from the movie a minute here. One of the most important things about a movie – or any story, for that matter – is suspension of disbelief. I have never in my life seen or met any people who possess such an extreme lack of common sense yet retain the fine motor skills to perform activities like driving, talking, and breathing.
To be fair, this movie was made in the early ’80s, so I’m just assuming that all five of these people are stoned and/or drunk out of their goddamned minds. That would certainly explain their very, very, very, very, very faulty reasoning up to this point. (Whoa, for a second there I channeled Commandant Lassard.)
So what does it take for them all to wake the fuck up and realize that shit’s getting freaky?
When Cheryl starts guessing playing cards being held up (that classic test of psychic ability) with statistically improbable accuracy and turns into a fucking hellspawn demon, then the remaining four college students think, “Hey, something might be wrong here.”
Cheryl stabs Linda in the ankle with a pencil. Instead of immediately disabling, dismembering, and burning her body, they lock her in the basement.
Then Shelly decides to flip the fuck out on them. Scotty takes things into his own hands and disarms (and dislegs, and dishands, and disfoots, and…) her with a wood ax. Finally, the boys stop taking shit from some emo Sumerian demons who are pissed about being woken up early from their nap.
Interestingly enough, the women seem more susceptable to falling under the influence of the evil forces. However, it may just be that it was transmitted somehow by touch – first Cheryl (who was raped), then Shelly, and finally Linda.
The boys bury Shelly and Scotty decides to go and look for a trail that will get them out of there, completely ignoring what happened to Cheryl a short time earlier.
Of course, Scotty’s dumb ass gets fucked up proper.
It’s not explicitly stated whether or not he was raped, but I’m gonna say yes judging by the way he walked.
Now we have two confirmed zombiedemons, one woman halfway there and rolling along like a sleepy trucker down an exit ramp, one guy who got the shit kicked out of him by some trees, and Ash.
Linda (Ash’s girlfriend) finally turns and starts spouting out the creepy shit so prevalent in the movie. Ash has several opportunities to off her.
Instead, he wusses the fuck out and takes her outside. Then he tries to dismember her with a chainsaw, but he wusses out again.
Kudos are in order to this man for maintaining a modicum of civility amidst a crisis. Sure, civility is useless as hell when you need to fuck up hellspawn, but thankfully Ash learns his lesson eventually. You’ll get to read more about that in my inevitable review of Army of Darkness.
Ash’s formerly human friends – even though they’ve been beaten halfway to death – try to off him several more times. Ol’ Ash barricades the doors and goes into the basement to get more shotgun shells.
When everything starts going haywire and a film projector starts bleeding, no one is going to blame you for shitting your pants.
The one place that was marginally safe – the House – starts to come alive. Lightbulbs bleed from the inside. Window shutters slam open and close. Ash, for some reason, is compelled to touch a mirror on the wall. His hand goes through as if the surface were water, and he pulls it back screaming franitically. Shit is officially 100% fucked to high Hell.
The house is raided by a grand total of four zombies – everyone but Ash who hasn’t survived. Ash finally grows a pair and offs each one of those fuckers. I guess when it comes down to “us or them”, Ash has no problem choosing “us” (well, in this case, “me”).
Despite all the ass-kicking that he’s done, he gets laid out on the cabin floor. Cheryl beats his sorry ass with a fireplace poker. Ash smartly notices that while the naughty bad book is one fire, the zombies exhibit symptoms of burning as well. He manages to chuck it into the fire…
And the book proceeds to try its best to imitate the “surprise” emoticon ( i.e. O: ):
Ash’s former friends proceed to fall apart while demons try to give them a high five from the inside out:
After all he’s been through, Ash stands outside. He’s filthy as hell, his friends are dead, and he’s probably come closer to Hell than any living man ever should. But he’s alive. He survived.
And just as Ash lets his guard down, something comes out of the forest and presumably kills him:
Evil Dead is considered a classic, and rightfully so. It was banned in many countries when it first came out (largely for the infamous “tree rape” scene), and is still technically illegal in Germany. (It came out on DVD in 2001, but they were ordered to be seized in 2002.)
As much as I admonish the characters for their many, many, many, many, many poor choices (damn, I went a-Lassardin’ again), I think the horror movie genre would suffer a bit without this particular narrative technique. Even so, this particular element has been relaxed in recent years. In 28 Days Later, for instance, our hero Jim realizes that things are pretty fucked rather quickly. (You can bet your ass that I’ll be getting to that one real soon.) You can still create tension, pressure, and drama without making your characters complete fucking idiots.
It’s easy to look back on older works and criticize them heavily, and I did give The Evil Dead a pretty heavy whipping. If you didn’t pick it up from the review, I actually loved this movie. The special effects were pretty damn good, the acting was cheesy (which goes hand-in-hand with the horror genre), and despite our heroes’ lack of common sense the film does a really good job at drawing you in.
What can we learn from The Evil Dead?
If you find a creepy book with strange writing, leave it the fuck alone and run.
Vooding Farming #6: Killing Floor
I can has reader mail?
July 21st, 2009 at 7:38 am
About time this game gets some attention. Mainstream and underground alike, it’s pretty much ignore.
Nothing against L4D, but…it’s not THAT great a game.
I bought L4D, I played L4D, and I got bored of L4D. Waste of 40 bucks IMO. I’ll probably buy L4D2, but only when I can catch it on sale for like $25. Killing Floor has way more bang for its buck.
July 21st, 2009 at 8:14 am
Small note: some servers have upto fifty players on them but six is the normal amount.
Yeah, but you won’t get any perks on those servers. In patch… 1003, I think, it was hardcoded in where servers can only have 6 player slots or less (even though the game can technically support more).
See you guys next week!
Ihmhi is a developer for Fortress Forever, a free, fast paced Team Fortress mod for Half-Life 2.