This edition of “Original vs Remake” is going to be a different one. I have never compared films that were produced by the same people. I know a lot of people were pissed about this because they thought that Bruce Campbell was being replaced. What a few people fail to understand is that Bruce Campbell was in fact involved in this picture. He was a producer on the film and he also had a cameo at the end of the credits with his iconic line “Groovy“.
There are a lot more differences than similarities between the 1981 original and the 2013 re-imagining. Yes I am calling this a re-imagining not a remake. The first and most obvious difference is the name of the film. In 1981, the film was titled ‘The Evil Dead‘, but in 2013, they dropped the “the” and just called it ‘Evil Dead‘. That is the biggest reason I am calling the 2013 film a re-imagining.
The opening scenes of the films are also drastically different from one another. ‘The Evil Dead‘ (1981) opened with the group driving to the cabin, whereas ‘Evil Dead‘ opened with a much more intense scene of what happened to the people that were previously at the cabin. The first major similarity of course is in fact the cabin. The reasoning for going to the cabin was much different in each movie however. In 1981, the group was just out for a weekend of fun. In the new adaptation, the group was there to help the main character, Mia (Jane Levy), get over her drug addiction.
The biggest difference that most people noticed was the absence of Ash (Bruce Campbell). In 2013’s ‘Evil Dead‘, there were two characters similar to Ash, Mia and her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez). David starts out in the film as an Ash-like character, with his sister being the first to be possessed, but by the end of the film, Mia is more like Ash.
Once in the cabin in the 1981 original, attention is drawn to the cellar because the door slams open, but in the re-imagining, it is the dog and a foul smell that brings the attention to the cellar. What is found in the cellar is also different in both films. In the new adaption, the group finds dead animals hanging from the ceiling, a much more grotesque discovery than that of the gourds hanging in the original. The biggest similarity in the two films is of course what is found in the cellar, The Book of the Dead. Although The Book of the Dead was found in the cellar in both films, the condition it is found in is different in both films. In ‘The Evil Dead‘, the book is not bound by anything, it is just laying there, but in ‘Evil Dead‘, the book is bound in a trash bag and barbed wire. There are also differences in the appearance of the book. In the original, the book has a face, but in the re-imagining, the book has just a stitched together cover.
Obviously it is The Book of the Dead that is tied to the demons and the possessions, but how the demons are drawn in in the films are different from one another. In the original, the group plays a tape that they find in the cellar and that draws them in. In the 2013 version, one of the members of the group read from the book while Mia is outside. A female is the first victim of possession in both films. Another similarity is the movement of the cameras through the woods. The way the first victim is possessed is similar as well. In 1981, the first victim is wondering around the woods trying to find a way home. In 2013, Mia is possessed after she sees a girl standing in the woods and she follows her in. The possession happens after the first victim is held by some vines and basically raped, this scene is more violent in the original than in the re-imagining.
Once possessed, in the original, Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), Ash’s sister, she doesn’t do as much extreme stuff as Mia before revealing to the rest of the group that she is possessed. The first character possessed in both films is also the leading man’s sister. Although, the first possessed in the original is a supporting character, and the first possessed in the new version turns out to be the main character. Once locked in the cellar, both Cheryl and Mia say the same “We’re gonna get you” chant. The makeup for the possessed is much more extreme in the original than in the remake. They seem to retain more of their human qualities than they do in the original. The same white mucus/vomit comes from the mouth of the possessed in both films. More of the same lines are used in both films such as “one by one we will take you” and “You’re all going to die tonight“.
The endings of both films are very different from one another. “The abomination” that is named in the 2013 film is not talked about in the original. Ash burns the book to bring it to an end. Mia’s brother David buries her to “purify” her and she comes out of it. The cabin was burnt down in the new vision whereas in the original, only the book was set on fire. There is only one survivor in both films, Ash in the original and Mia in the new take. The original ending is much more open than the new one. Perhaps the biggest difference in the endings of both films has to be Mia losing her hand battling “the abomination“. We all know that Ash does not lose his hand until ‘Army of Darkness‘.
In the battle of ‘The Evil Dead‘ and ‘Evil Dead‘, I am calling a draw. Both films are amazing in their own ways. ‘The Evil Dead‘ of course is a classic, but I believe that the new vision has all the makings of becoming a classic itself. Bruce Campbell was nothing short of legendary in the original, but the performance by Jane Levy in ‘Evil Dead‘ was about as close as anyone will get to Bruce’s in the original. I think it would be incredible to see both Jane and Bruce come together in a new film, perhaps a new ‘Army of Darkness‘? The team of Mia and Ash would be incredible. I know a lot of you will disagree with me, but I simply could not definitively choose between the two. They were essentially different films and both deserve the highest recognition either of them could get.
1981 ‘The Evil Dead‘ trailer:
2013 ‘Evil Dead‘ trailer: