Note: I get a pivotal quote in this piece wrong.
There was a mathematical study done recently, assigning values to tension, gore etc. to work out the perfect horror ratio and The Shining came out on top. I do not like The Shining. In fact, I dislike most horror films; they all fail either to scare or to entertain me. They’re rarely longer than ninety minutes, and this means they have to start killing characters as quickly as possible so there’s no room for any character development. Even those around long enough to have a chance are too busy screaming to come anywhere close to acquiring more than one dimension to their personality. All of this would be forgivable if any of them had even the slightest sliver of charm, but they don’t. There are some examples of the genre where there is a subtext, the consumer culture satire in ‘Dawn of the Dead’ for example, but more often than not this is again lost in the monotony. An honourable mention has to go to Spaced’s Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s simultaneous send-up and homage, the brilliantly titled “Shaun of the Dead”. Despite the previous paragraph there are some horror films that I enjoy. This is because they have the intrinsic thing missing from all other pretenders: Bruce Campbell.
Bruce Campbell is literally the coolest man on the planet and one of the most entertaining on-screen actors of the last twenty years. His work in the genre is mostly the well-known Evil Dead series by Spiderman director Sam Raimi. The first film in the trilogy is basically a straight-up horror film, but as I said, Bruce is in it. Also, it is the first place we see the famous “Evil” camera, where our hero is chased with the shot through the eyes of the monster, so we never see the horror that he the flees. This was due more to budget constraints than concept, but it worked better than any creature model ever could have. The first sequel, “Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn”, never took itself seriously and was much better for it. They let Campbell shine, any other characters were never meant to be anything more than expendable. It also features the immortal line “Groovy.” It’s pure geek entertainment, but it’s marvellous.The second sequel, “Army of Darkness”, was more of the same but with a bigger budget and a theme by Danny Elfman (‘Batman’, ‘Nightmare before Christmas’). It has some unforgettable moments including more than one Campbell on screen at once. Bliss. It features full-blown battle scenes and one of the greatest anti-hero moments of all time: “Clatto Verata Nicto”. You’ll get all this when you and watch it, and you will watch it.
The Evil Dead Trilogy is something everyone should see. It’s cheese, but it’s beautiful and it does have the requisite amount of gore for any horror film. Finally, just to let you know truly how awe-inspiring Bruce Campbell is I’ll leave you with this. He’s currently working on a film called “My Name is Bruce” where it’s actually Bruce Campbell, himself, fighting the zombies. The man doesn’t even need a character anymore; he’s too much of one himself already.
Originally Published in 2006.