Apr 24, 2023

Saturday Of The Dead

The Pope's Exorcist and Evil Dead Rise
Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
A theater chain in Belgium called Pathé Cinémas are having a Horror Night with back-to-back screenings of The Pope's Exorcist and Evil Dead Rise.  It's not something that our local Regal Cinema is promoting as a double feature, but they are showing both films on the same day, so we went ahead and had our own Saturday Of The Dead double feature, with an hour long intermission in between to have some Italian food at the mall.

The Pope's Exorcist is based on the allegedly true stores written by Father Gabriele Amorth, who claimed to have performed over 160,000 for the Roman Catholic Church before his death in 2016.  I don't believe for a second that there is any truth to what he has to say, but it does make for a hell of a good story and a pretty damn good movie.  With the exception of the 1973 classic, I can't think of an exorcism-related movie that I enjoyed more than this.

Russell Crowe and Daniel Zovatto both do an excellent job, and without giving away too much of the story, the end of the movie makes it seem like the goal of this film was to start a new supernatural action franchise that blends elements of The Exorcist, National Treasure, and The Da Vinci Code.  It's something that I'd be interested in seeing, but whether or not that happens depends on how successful this film is at the box office.  I hope that it does well.

I've been looking forward to Evil Dead Rise since the first time I saw the trailer, but I was concerned that this was one of those times where all of the good parts are in the trailer.  Thankfully, that is not the case.  In fact, the trailer does a fantastic job of selling what this movie is all about while not giving any of the story away.

Before I say what I want to say about this movie, it's only fair that you have a little background on where I'm coming from with this franchise.  I have loved horror movies since I was six years old, but I wouldn't classify myself as a superfan of Bruce Campbell, The Evil Dead, or Evil Dead II.  I like them very much, but I don't put them on the same pedestal as the rest of the community of horror fans.  Army Of Darkness is my favorite movie of the original Evil Dead trilogy and I enjoyed Evil Dead: The Musical more than any of them.  I still haven't watched the 2013 reboot, but I did the beginning of the Ash vs The Evil Dead series on Netflix, which I enjoyed at first, but I lost interest in it after a few episodes.

My intention in saying all of this is not to rip on the Evil Dead franchise, but to give some context to my thoughts on Evil Dead Rise, which I believe is the best true horror film in the franchise by a wide margin.  The acting performances are better, the writing is better, and there's a lot more character development.  It traps the main characters in a way that isn't obvious as it's happening, so the audience learns just how truly screwed they all are at the same time that the characters are learning it themselves.  The movie is genuinely scary, which is not something I can say about any other Evil Dead movie that I've seen.  In the other films, the gore and the kills are campy or played for laughs.  In Evil Dead Rise, it's done to scare you, and it's done effectively.

In short, Evil Dead Rise slams the door on horror/comedy and runs headfirst into absolute terror.  Obviously I don't speak for the horror community, but I couldn't be happier.