When word arose that there would be an Evil Dead reboot, fans of the franchise that made Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell cult icons denounced the very idea that anyone else would dare tackle the classic's tale. Well, Campbell has heard your complaints, and he thinks we'll all be eating our words next April when Fede Alvarez's Raimi and Campbell-approved (and produced) reboot hits theaters.
The Comic Con crowd was rowdy from the moment moderator Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly walked on stage, and while they clapped for the introductions of Alvarez and the reboot's star Jane Levy, they went wild when Campbell strode on stage, wearing a black dress shirt, black slacks, and a bright red blazer. He is the king of Comic Con, and he knows it, strolling in front of the table so that crowd could get their lusted-for photo op. While pictures were taken through all five panels I attended today, nothing was like this, where the whole room became a blanket of bursting flashes as hundreds snapped shots of the biggest name in B-movies.
When Bruce took his seat, it was clear he was holding court, and he immediately began to—not explain, exactly, but declare why it was time for "new blood" in the Evil Dead franchise. This got off to a rocky start, though. When he suggested he is too old "to strap on that chainsaw one last time," the crowd responded with booming boos! In response, Bruce shrugged and joked, if we say so, Evil Dead 4 will happen. He then praised the reboot, calling Levy and Alvarez geniuses, and told assured us, "Your shit will be just as freaked as it is in this movie, as it was in the original. And if you need me to crown her [Levy] the next official Ash, I will put that crown on her myself!"
In response, Levy beamed proudly, and went on to recount how she pursued the role of the reboot's female protagonist Mia. Of the audition where she met Bruce, she said, "[He] tried to scare me away--or at least make sure I was up for the job….Asking 'Do you know what it's like to be buried alive?!'" Levy said she did not, but was eager to learn.
Alvarez, who is making the leap from short films to feature-length with Evil Dead, said he came on to the project for reasons anyone should be able to understand. He explained when Sam Raimi asks you to do an Evil Dead movie, "You don't say, 'No thank you I don't believe in remakes.' You say, 'Fuck yeah!'"
Next came the exclusive first look at the trailer, and any questions on whether the reboot would attempt Raimi and Campbell's unique brand of "splatstick" were immediately silenced as something much darker and more disturbing unfolded on the massive screens. Devotees of Evil Dead will immediately recognize the cabin, the Necronomicon, and are sure to note a possibly possessed hand, a chainsaw, and some sexually assaulting greenery. As vines wrap their way forcefully up a girl's bare thigh, the crowd shouted. As a possessed girl savagely sliced in her own face to the horror of Levy's Mia, they screamed. By the time it cut to the name Evil Dead, we'd devolved into full on cacophony. And when the lights came up, Campbell had a proud and smug smile on his face. The man's a fucking rock star, which only became more apparent as one question after another was met with his bizarre brand of charismatic bravado.
The first question went to Levy, who confessed this is the first time she's seen the trailer, and she's in speechless awe, admitting it freaked her out. She seemed delighted by this, and so was the crowd. But after that, it was all about Bruce, a total love fest. Speaking of his cameos in Raimi's Spider-Man movies, he offered, "Just a reminder, I named Spider Man. In Spider-Man 2 I didn't let him into the theater…so technically I'm the only character who defeated Spider-Man." He told a girl cosplaying as a lady-version of chainsaw-armed Ash, "Female Ashes are kind of hot actually." Cheers and whooping ensue. When asked if he could recite "the passage," he replied coolly, "If I was your little monkey I could," which was met by boisterous cheers from the crowd and chanting of "Bruce! Bruce! BRUCE!"
Things hit a fevered pitch when one female fan took to the mic and geeked out with her unabashed crush, praising his work on a string of projects including Burn Notice. In response Campbell told her to "Come here." She rushed to the stage where he kissed her hand—while photographers swarmed around her—and gave her $5 "for her support." He returned to his seat while Levy confessed she filmed the exchange with her iPhone because, "I've never seen anything like this in my life!"
But Campbell, always the professional, brought the focus back to the new Evil Dead. When asked why Diablo Cody was brought on to polish the script, he replied with a tone that showed he is well-aware of the nasty web-lash that announcement had, saying, "As middle aged man we don't really know how young people talk." (a pause for applause.) "Oh. Oh and she won a fucking Academy Award!" Alvarez added that Cody's help with "cool dialogue" was crucial as English is not his first language, and Campbell pointed out her viewpoint was also helpful in that "she was also writing for a female protagonist."
Asked if he'd have a cameo in the reboot, he responded, "I will be there in spirit in every frame of this movie, it's time to pass the torch…Don't get me wrong, Sam Raimi is promising from his death bed to keep making these movies."
"It's time for something fresh," Campbell concluded. "We got some really talented people who kicked it out…I know you fans were pissed--don't think I didn't read about it. Just wait until you see it, then I will accept your collective apology the Monday after it opens….Get ready it's coming in April!"
Evil Dead opens April 12th, 2013.