Saturday, September 18, 2010

Oh, the Horror: Drag Me to Hell

My horror movie odyssey begins with Drag Me to Hell, the 2009 film directed by Sam Raimi, the man who brought us the classic Evil Dead movies and also brought Spiderman to the big screen. It stars Alison Lohman, Justin Long (The I’m a Mac guy.) and Lorna Raver. It’s about a young, up and coming loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home in order to impress her boss and finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse.

I had wanted to see this movie for a while now. After all, it was the return to the horror genre for Sam Raimi. Raimi is the man behind the beloved Evil Dead trilogy, the campy horror series that mixed cheesy, over the top effects with genuine shocks and lots of humor. And he made Bruce Campbell a hero to a whole generation of horror geeks.

Drag Me to Hell was pretty much what I expected it to be. And over the top, roller-coaster ride that is almost more of a live action cartoon. You could almost call it Evil Dead: The Next Generation. There were plenty of jump-out-of-your seat moments, but there are more gross-out moments involving old lady phlegm, slime, nose bleeds and bugs than anything else. The mix of classic Raimi cartoonish special effects, outrageous fight scenes between angry spirits and their intended victims and a scene stealing goat make this movie a fun ride.

It was also funny to see what Raimi would do with the improved technology for special effects. CGI did not exist when he made the Evil Dead movies, so I found myself wondering how he would have pulled off some of those shots back in the old days. Luckily, he also sticks to some old favorites, like puppets, white contact lenses and frenetic camera work.

While I got a kick out of Drag Me to Hell I was surprised it got 92% fresh tomatoes on It’s a fun movie, and a welcome treat for the Evil Dead crowd, but I would expect the Average Joe on the street to dismiss it as a ridiculous and cheesy B movie. But maybe that’s its charm.

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