Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bloody Good Fun

Well, I haven't finished anything actually relevant for this blog, what with life, summer and all, but one reason I haven't was our trip across two counties to see Evil Dead - the Musical. Yes, that's right. A two-act hi-bleedin'-larious homage to Sam Raimi's classic horror-comedies. And I mean bleedin'. My totally good-sport wife and I were rained upon with the spurting blood of the various dismemberments, gun-shots and staggering headless and armless corpses. Fortunately we were wearing our handy $7 splatter-zone t-shirts, which we may never wash.

If you're as out of touch with pop culture as I know some of you are, you may have missed the 1981 classic blood-and-demon fest of The Evil Dead. Sam Raimi's first success (decades before Spiderman) was a pretty serious frightener, though you could see Raimi's sense of comic timing already working. It was also the premier film of Bruce Campbell, one of my favorite almost-a-leading-man actors. (See him old and grizzled in the cool spy TV thing Burn Notice).

In ED, five college-age friends head up to an old cabin in the woods for a weekend of booze and sex. There they discover that an Old Professor has found the Necronomicon and has awakened some Kandarian Demons. Hijinx ensue. If that sounds hackneyed just realize that Raimi did it first - lots of fanboys had their fist hearing of 'Necronomicon' in these flicks.
Evil Dead was made on a shoestring and made some money, which Raimi used to make Evil Dead 2 - a much more overt comedy, with Bruce Campbell in the first and still best Fight With Your Own Hand scene. The third flick (don't ask me how, just now) becomes a medieval fantasy, with Bruce's character, Ash, forced to brave the Army of Darkness to secure the Necronomicon.

The three movies are mashed up into the mere excuse of a plot in the musical comedy. The events of the first film are followed pretty closely, and some of the best stuff from the second film gets used. The third film mainly gives us some of the choice lines of Ash dialogue... "This is my boomstick!" But the story is really just an excuse for the musical numbers. It's all singing, all dancing as the kids and various other characters either become demons themselves or madly kill and dismember demons. The few remaining living people must save the world from the dancing demon revue, and of course they do, reciting the ancient Sumerian incantation after the climactic dance in which the demons reverence the Necronomicon in various popstar drag.

This little evening of theater had 400 performances in Canada, and has already had it's Cleveland run extended. Presented at the Beck Center, in Lakewood, we were in the Studio Theater, with about 120 seats. Good use was made of the little stage, with curtains to take us into the woods, etc, and the interior set of the cabin was nicely tricked out with special effects. All the singing voices were top-notch. I had gotten the soundtrack from the bigger Canadian production some time ago, and this local cast (with just one equity actor, as Ash) did the material nicely.
But it's the script and lyrics that keep the laughs coming. It's a cheek-buster, and even people who aren't geeked-out on the original movies will find plenty to laugh at. Totally profane, as well. Ash finds several occasions to exclaim 'fuckwaffle!'. If this comes near you, you should go out of your way to see it. A fine excuse to watch the flicks again first, too...

1 comment:

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