What's Your Favorite Scary Movie: EVIL DEAD II
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SCARY MOVIE is a new column from Ghastly Grinning where writers and contributors will give us the scoop on their favorite horror films and why.
Looking Back: How an evil book, a chainsaw and a chin changed my perspective on life.
My older brother and I are lucky enough to be able to make horror movies. And we are even luckier when we get to go to the festivals they are playing at. In every interview we’ve ever done, at some point, we are always asked the same question. “What’s your favorite Horror movie?” And every time, my answer flies out of my mouth without even having to think.
Much like some of you, if not most of you, I discovered a love for horror movies at a young age. Some of my earliest memories are of hiding behind the couch as our old friend Freddy K. broke his way out of poor Jesse’s chest to eviscerate his totally straight best friend, Grady. (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 was one of the few VHS tapes I owned at the time, but I was three, so give me a break.)
It was on a Winter’s night in 1992, when I was seven, that it happened . My step mom knew that my older brother and I were forming a small obsession with all things horror and was delighted to discover that we had never seen one of her favorites. So she started the Jiffy Pop and pulled out what looked like a blank VHS tape. I’ll never forget that moment, when she slid the tape out of its faded rainbow casing. Written on the label in thick, black Sharpie were the words, “Evil Dead 2.”
From the moment it started, I was hooked. I found myself being terrified to look at the screen, but laughing hysterically moments later. I was enamoured of the practical effects by Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger. My mind was blown by the wild, but masterful, camera work and direction from Sam Raimi. But most of all, I had found my childhood hero. Ash Williams. And I know what you’re thinking, “DUH! Ash is fucking badass!” But at that time, none of my friends knew what Evil Dead even was. They were busy watching Power Rangers and Tiny Toons (by the way, I am in no way looking down on either of those. Trust me, I had my fair share of mighty morphin fun!) But Ash and Evil Dead 2 felt like my little secret. And I cherished that.
Needless to say, I became obsessed. My stepmom, bless her (or should I say “swallow her”) soul, let me keep that tape and I watched it EVERY NIGHT for months on end. I made Ash’s costumes and props, just to wear during my nightly viewing. I guess I was a cosplayer before I even knew what it was. I would pretend to be Ash and fight invisible Deadites in my room and, inevitably, I would be waking my mom and step dad up in the middle of the night when Henrietta would be waiting for me in the fruit cellar of my nightmares. I even got my first concussion trying to flip myself over like Ash and his possessed hand!
I recently went through a great loss, so I decided it was time for some horror movie therapy. I popped my old friend in (unfortunately I don’t have the VHS anymore, but DVDs are just as good!) and lost myself in the magnificence that is Evil Dead 2. Then something hit me. While I didn’t realize it as a child, Evil Dead 2 was in actuality a metaphor for life.
Let’s take a look at Ash Williams. At the beginning of the film, he’s pretty simple, with one goal in mind. He wants to get laid. Now, I know this sounds silly, but stay with me here. Ash is a young guy, just trying to have fun and live his life before the pressures of the adult world kick in. Now, I admit, opening up the Book of the Dead and listening to the recording was a really stupid thing to do. But haven’t we all made stupid decisions in life? I know I certainly have. It’s how we deal with those decisions that define who we are.
Unfortunately, in Ash’s case, his stupid decision summoned pure evil. He tries to run at first, speeding down the dirt road only to be foiled by a mangled bridge. But that’s life. You can’t run from it. There are “mangled bridges” everywhere! So what does Ash do? What do we do? There’s really only one true option. We go back to that fucking cabin and face our lives head on. On your journey, people will come and go, just like Linda, Annie, Ed, Jake and Bobby Joe. And even though they are important to the story and can help you along the way, they can’t be the ones to save you. You are the only one going to get you through your own life. (Read the Latin a little faster, Annie! Jesus!)
There will be times in our lives when things are thrown our way that we don’t want to deal with. Or things that we don’t even think we have the capacity to deal with. Whether it be chopping off your own hand with a chainsaw, or separating with the love of your life (I know that sounds rather specific... It’s personal.) The point is, when life seems a little too tough, and it will, we have to be a little bit more like Ash Williams. Strap on that chainsaw and cut down any Deadite stopping you from living the life you want. And when that giant slimy monster head of life bursts through the front door, grabbing you with its tree hands, reminding you of all of your dead friends (mistakes and regrets...) Stay groovy and stab it in the fucking eye! Just don’t forget your chemistry books when you get sucked back to the dark ages. You’re really going to want those...
Now, I’d like to know, did you have a similar relationship with any particular film? What horror movie inspires you the most in your daily life?
REMEMBER: Deadites are not people. Please don’t actually use a chainsaw to kill anyone...