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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Evil Dead Companion

The Evil Dead Companion is about the movie, Evil Dead. If you haven't seen it, you should see Evil Dead II (funnier and not quite as disturbing). Then, if you're drunk, see Army of Darkness. Then come back to this review -- it won't make much sense otherwise.

In the bookstore, I picked up the Evil Dead Companion, flipped through it, and put it back down. It seemed mildly interesting, but it didn't have enough to hold my attention. I forgot about it.

Then for Christmas, lo and behold, Maleficent bought it for me. So I figured it'd be worth a good read, especially in fleshing out my D20 Modern supplement, Evil Dead: Swallow This! If you don't know what that is, 1) shame on you, 2) visit my web site for more details.

Bill Warren's a fan of Raimi and Bruce and co. A big fan. In fact, he's so much of a fan, there's a slant to the material that wasn't quite hard-hitting enough for my tastes. I submit this evidence at the end of the book:

These guys from Detroit are among the most decent, likeable people this writer has ever met, and it has been an enormous pleasure, one of the greatest of my professional life, to have been associated with them.
Okay, WHOA. I really like Bruce Campbell. When I finally do meet him, I'll proably make a stuttering idiot of myself. But come on now. Even if this is true, and I'm sure it is, would you be quite so effusive with the praise?

Also, a good chunk of the book -- pages 180 through 251 -- is a summary of the script with commentary from Bruce. Some if it's interesting. Some of it is irritating in its lack of specifics. It's not the REAL script, it's a summary.

But I'm griping about things that ultimately should be meaningless to a true-blue (true-red?) fan of Evil Dead. The book actually is more about the first movie, Evil Dead, than Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness because...well because that's what Sam and Bruce wanted to talk about most.

The stories are funny. Sam takes a wicked glee in abusing Bruce. And the early days of filming were hell -- literally and cinematically. The behind the scenes stuff is interesting.

The writer makes a half-hearted attempt to make the book an inspirational tale. The idea being that if Sam can do it, you can do it. But that isn't true at all. These friends were all connected to other people who were hell-bent on making movies too. In short, the average hopeful filmmaker is probably NOT working with a bunch of other guys who were ultimately making it on their own. In my experience, the average filmmaker is a kid in a basement trying to film stuff on his own. Sam and Bruce were talented guys with a level of desperation and daring most sane people aren't willing to go. And oh yeah, they don't appear to have had long-term relationships at the time either.

The book's becoming rapidly outdated. I checked all the web sites listed in the back and over 50% of them are gone. The game mentioned, Hail to the King, came and went.

In short, if you're an Evil Dead fan, you will enjoy this book. A lot of the quotes are taken from other sources vs. interviewing (I can write a book that way too, duh), but there's enough hidden gems that make it worthwhile. If you're not that big a fan, this book will probably bore you pretty quickly.



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