It’s not really a popular opinion, but I like to give every remake an opportunity to be good. When it comes to a classic like The Evil Dead, you just kind of have to ask yourself how that formula could possibly be improved or at the very least, reinvented? As you can read in my Evil Dead remake review, the filmmakers were able to make a highly entertaining, incredibly gory movie that comes about as close to as fun as the source material as could be expected. You can also read in my interview with producers Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, co-writer Rodo Sayagues, and writer/director Fede Alvarez, it felt like they were able to pinpoint what the soul (pun intended) of the original film was in hopes of paying the film its proper dues. One of the biggest differences, and probably the best idea for all parties involved, was completely skipping the idea of trying to recreate Bruce Campbell’s performance as Ash and not even having that character in the film. Even though this means there weren’t any shoes to fill, that doesn’t mean the cast had a walk in the park with all of the practical effects involved. At SXSW, I was able to speak with cast members Shiloh Fernandez, Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore. As a warning, there are some mild spoilers in this interview, but if you’re going to see Evil Dead and think that ANYONE will survive, you might want to revisit the original film.
WolfMan: Going into the movie, did you guys have any connection with the source material? Did you have ANY idea what you were in store for, with the amount of practical effects?
Jane Levy: No, not really.
Shiloh Fernandez: I knew the movie, because it was wildly popular with some of my family and friends, but for me, it’s pretty scary thinking about all of the things that the Deadites do. All the makeup and all the crazy stuff. I felt pretty lucky that I didn’t have to do all of that so that made it a little easier to sign that line.
WM: Looking at the script, and not necessarily being that familiar with the original, were there any moments where you thought, “No, this can’t happen, this is too insane, too ridiculous”?
JL: No, not for me.
SF: It was ridiculous for sure. For me, I couldn’t picture what would happen on-screen. I don’t really watch horror movies so I didn’t really have that connection. It sounded crazy, but I didn’t actually realize how crazy it would be. Was the kiss in the script?
JL: The blood kiss?
SF: Was it in the script? And you cutting your tongue?
WM: Blood kiss? Is that the affectionate name for it?
JL: It’s the technical term. That’s the sex term.
WM: Got it. Was last night the first time you saw it with an audience of that size? Being in all that makeup, did you ever detach from the movie and forget that it was you?
JL: I remember every single second. I remember how I was feeling, what the day was like, I remember everything.
WM: Which was the most difficult effect that you remember trying to pull off?
JL: The two hardest were trying to be buried alive, and the blood rain was really hard. It was winter and I was the only actor working every night, night shoots, and it was freezing cold.
WM: They don’t warm up the blood for you?
JL: They try to, but it just doesn’t work. How far it has to travel, it can’t stay warm for that long. I’m in the mud, outside, rolling around every single take, and sitting there with wet clothes for 8 hours. But it looked good.
WM: And you (Shiloh), you got off kind of lucky as far as being maimed and mutilated and tortured…
SF: Oh I know. Honestly, the hardest things were scenes with a dog dying. Fede (Alvarez, director) wanted me to cry over my dead dog, and I was thinking that my sister just bashed its head in and I wanted to go smack her around a little bit. It was moments like that which were the most difficult for me because I didn’t have to endure the stuff that Jane did.
JL: That was a really fun scene, with the flash of me killing the dog. It was a sponge with fake blood with a bunch of fake dog hair on it and I was just smacking that thing and it was so fun! It was so terrible.
SF: The dog was this stuffed THING, and it was mulching the whole time and it was falling apart the whole time. I had to hold it together. It was so horrible. Fede’s saying, “Cry! Cry! It’s your dog, it’s your best friend, you have to cry.” Yeah, that thing was disgusting. Wet, blood…they never changed it. They just had one. We shot some of it inside the studio and some of it outside and the outside stuff, by then…it was so terrible. That was the worst thing I had to deal with.
WM: Jane had it pretty bad, but the effects that you guys had to go through…you’re bodies are just completely obliterated in this movie. What special effect did you see other people go through that you were most glad to not have to do?
Jessica Lucas: We shot it in chronological order, so we were just shooting the story before any of the gore. I remember the first time seeing Jane go through the whole prosthetic thing and was thinking, “Oh my god, we’re all going to have to go through that soon.”
Elizabeth Blackmore: I think that last night was the best time that we saw it. We shot it chronologically so when we died, we were out of it. So seeing Jane have to go through all that stuff and the blood rain…it was so cold in New Zealand and they were outside at night in the woods. I can’t quite imagine what she was going through.
Lou Taylor Pucci: Well we CAN though, even though we didn’t go through the exact same thing. There were nails in your face!
EB: Well then I got to go home, Jane just had to keep going.
LTP: I think just, honestly, seeing Liz all the time with the whole nail thing, I would just always look at you and think “I’m so glad I have my part and you have your part because I do NOT want to go through that.”
EB: And I was sad.
LTP: It was so sad! You had the tooth thing in? You had the tooth thing in so you couldn’t even talk. A nail was hooked in through the teeth and, I mean, even your underwear was caked with blood. (laughs) It was disgusting!
EB: Before the scenes, they’d say “Are you ready? Are you ready?” and then they’d just tip a bucket of cold water on you and it was freezing!
JL: That was the worst part, getting prepped for it. Having them come up to you and say “We;re going to put a ton of blood and vomit on it.”
LTP: Well they would do a spray down. It would start getting dry, and once it was dried, you’d wake up with your shoulder attached, and you’d say “Okay, spray me.” Then they’d spritz you down fully, pretty much with a hose. You’re freezing cold. But then when you go on, you’re shivering, so it was perfect.
JL: We were really in that much pain, what you’re seeing. We didn’t have to act that much.
Lou Taylor Pucci
WM: How prepared are you (Lou) for everyone to be incredibly pissed off at you? You’re the reason why ALL of it happened. If you just didn’t invite this guy, you’d still have your arm.
JL: And Olivia was the one telling him to stop it!
EB: And I didn’t even know you guys!
LTP: I don’t know, you’d do it. If it was a book, a BOOK? In a bag? Wrapped in barbed wire? You’d take a look.
WM: Fair enough. That is one of my weaknesses. I explore every bag that there might be a book in.
LTP: It was cool and smart that they didn’t try to cover it up, that they didn’t try to cover it up. They didn’t try to comment on it. It was just “he reads the book”.
WM: Because in the original, it’s kind of an accident, where they push “play” and that’s when it happens. I didn’t feel AS bad when you died, no offense, but I thought “Well, he’s the guy reading ‘DO NO READ THIS’ and trying to figure out what it says.”
EB: But you would, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t think demons wouldn’t come out of the ground.
WM: I don’t know, I’ve seen stuff like that before. You can never be too careful.
LTP: If I was really in a cabin, would I do it? Not anymore. Not ever again.
WM: You’ve learned your lesson, that’s what’s important. Was the beard fake?
LTP: No, that was real. That was MY beard
JL: When I saw him, I didn’t even recognize him.
LTP: I had to chop it off a week ago. I was rocking out.
WM: It was a very convincing effect. It did really feel real.
Evil Dead is in theaters now!
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awesome interview man!