Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Evil Dead, an all-nighter 22 years ago, and wanting Steve C. to come back

The very first time I watched THE EVIL DEAD was in 1988 (or possibly 1989 or around that time anyway) at an all-nighter at the Scala Cinema Club, located in the King's Cross in London. The all-nighter consisted of THE EVIL DEAD, THE EVIL DEAD II, HELLRAISER, and HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2.
Ahh, what a night. Apart from my (then) girlfriend being annoyed (you could actually feel the temperature going down in the cinema) about my bringing her to see a film with "that" scene in it (the tree rape scene, you know) it was a night to remember. And FILMS to remember. Three of them were BIG classics to remember (and Hellraiser 2 is a guilty pleasure, lol).

I was living in London at the time and my entire film foundation was laid by going to all those all-nighters during those years in the late 80s/early 90s. As I'm sure you're aware, no matter where on the globe you're located, that the UK had very strict censorship regulations in those days (or "censorshit" as IN THE FLESH would refer to it). They've loosened up quite a bit although the BBFC still ban a movie once in a while.
The good thing about going to the old Scala Cinema Club was exactly that: It was a cinema club! There was a loophole in the censorship regulations that allowed clubs with members to show films that were otherwise cut on video tape or had to be shown cut in ordinary cinemas (all you had to do to become a member was buy a member's card that cost ya 50p and which was valid for a whole year and you were even allowed to bring a friend, LOL).
THE EVIL DEAD had been cut (about a minute) when it came out on rental tape (even though it was a pre-certification tape, i.e. before the British Board of Classification [BBFC] was introduced). So in other words, the version I got to watch on that cold and rainy dark night was a fully uncut version. Of course nowadays nobody cares about these old stories as you can buy your fully uncut EVIL DEAD DVDs in every video store on the corner in every city no matter where you are.

A couple of years later I discovered a Bristol based fanzine called IN THE FLESH run by a guy called Steve C. (who still owes me for an entire year of subscription!!!) and in their 7th issue Steve C. reviewed the film in their "A-Z OF NASTIES" and amongst other things he wrote: "Gore-wise the original Palace version was missing approximately 1 minutes worth of pencil twisting, eye gouging fun and frolics [...] I strongly advise you to look out for this everywhere. Even though there is now a version on sell-thru the original Palace release is head, shoulders and a few minutes gore above that!"
... and now, about 20 yrs after I read that piece I'm finally gonna get a copy of that legendary tape! Woo-hoo!! I won it on eBay last night and I must admit I can't wait. I know I know, don't tell me, it's not as good as a DVD or a blueinyourface-ray or whatever you kids buy nowadays but none of that new fancy stuff is gonna have the history this one has (or the damp smell of having been sitting in someone's basement for 20 odd yrs, probably). Sure it's cut but... HISTORY, man, HISTORY!!!

And if nothing else... it IS presented in its original format WHEREAS almost all of the DVD versions are presented in the wrong format as Sam Raimi caved in to the DVD companies and re-cut the film's format so now the top and bottom are missing from the film!! I'm not even fucking kidding! Did you really think a film shot on 16mm would be letterboxed? Well, it's not. It's fullscreen and that's the only way to watch THE EVIL DEAD. LOL (don't worry, if you've got the wrong version you can still get a proper one without having to find an old video tape as there's a release that contains both the original fullscreen and the crappy lbx version. Go check Dvdcompare.net).

But having said all of this I must admit I somehow miss the old days of trying to hunt down banned video nasties and reading splatter-movie fanzines. No, my friend, reading someones blog that has the same bloody layout as 17 trillion other blogs just isn't as fun, boo-hoo. Steve C. where are you now? We need you to put out one more issue. :-(