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Watch: This Is How You Make a Low-Budget Horror Film–Err, Comedy: A Video Essay on Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD 2

Watch: This Is How You Make a Low-Budget Horror Film--Err, Comedy: A Video Essay on EVIL DEAD 2

To say I laughed until I cried while watching Kevin B. Lee’s video essay on the low-budget Sam Raimi horror film Evil Dead 2 would be a misstatement, since I don’t recall any actual tears rolling down my face. But: there are a lot of laughs here. In this installment of his Shooting Down Pictures project, in which Lee (the former Editor of this very blog!) chronicled his viewing of the 1000 greatest films of all time, Lee uses the director’s admittedly over-acted, mawkishly fake, chaotic quasi-masterpiece of after-dinner-theater style horror as a basis for discussion of the value of such films. And in so doing, Lee instructs us on the way this kind of film is actually made. As one fairly artificially constructed special effect is piled on top of another, the scenes we see here acquire a level of absurdity which could be said to be next to artfulness. We laugh, but we’re also genuinely unsettled at certain moments. The drive, the singular energy behind what we’re watching, the focus of the director’s animus, is what causes the disturbance. The giggles come when the car goes off the road a bit–which happens quite often in this film, and others of its type. Lee provides helpful nuggets of information onscreen along the way, such as “fake hand filled with gelatin,” as a knife plunges into flesh, or “440 gallons of fake blood used for this scene,” as a powerful gusher of blood erupts, wholly spontaneously. And, viewed in this light, with the seams of the film exposed, somewhat, the question is raised: what was Raimi doing here? Is it what it seems like he was doing, or something more complex? And beyond that: at what point could we say that what would seem on the surface to be the opposite of artfulness is actually pushing, perhaps in spite of itself, towards something which is poetic and profound in its own right?

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