Evil Dead Rise, which terrorizes SXSW audiences tonight in a special screening ahead of its general release April 21, tells a story with new characters unearthing one of the three Naturom Demonto books, unleashing all sorts of demonic havoc. Another of those volumes, of course, caused all the trouble in the original Evil Dead trilogy, so what of the third? FANGORIA put that question to Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, the director, star and producer, respectively, of those first three films during a Zoom interview regarding Rise, and got a surprising commitment from Campbell.
“We think the third one may have wound up in Fede’s film,” Raimi says, referring to director Fede Alvarez’s 2013 Evil Dead reboot. “I’m not sure. Rob, what’s Fede’s take on it? Is it simply a remake of the first Evil Dead’s story?”
“In Fede’s mind,” Tapert responds, “if you ask him, he did a remake, even though there’s an incongruity in there of the replica of the [Oldsmobile] Delta 88 covered in leaves at that cabin. So it’s a bit confusing. But what we want to do is bring back Bruce and Jane Levy [from the ’13 movie] and tie it in with this movie [Rise] and have the beginning of the ultimate showdown. But Bruce is standing in the way.”
“Hey, Michael, I’ll go on record here!” Campbell says as Raimi and Tapert laugh. “These guys don’t scare me! I worked on Xena, so nothing scares me. If Sam says, ‘I, Sam Raimi, will direct another Evil Dead movie,’ then I, Bruce Campbell, will consider being in it. I don’t want to be Ash, tended to by other people. Sam’s the meanest director I’ve ever worked with, and Ash needs a little bit of that to shine. And I think Sam’s the only director now who I won’t punch in the face making an Evil Dead movie! I’m just saying, I’ve called Rob and Sam out, I’m not the coward that they think I am; I just want the right circumstances. Because Sam, even though he’s done studio movies, he’s still a good director! [Raimi laughs] So, I want Sam! I’ll do it for Sam.”
Considering he has stepped behind the camera himself on the likes of My Name is Bruce and The Man With the Screaming Brain, there’s one inevitable follow-up question: Would Campbell direct an Evil Dead film? “I would only do it with Sam’s blessing,” he replies. “I wouldn’t want him to get pissed off. You know, they would probably say, ‘OK, Bruce, go ahead and direct one,’ and then they’d see a few weeks [of footage] and then there would be mysterious illnesses, and Sam would have to step in. I don’t know, it’s actually kind of fun just being the face of it a little bit at times. I’m just an ambassador for the series now.”
And as such, Campbell is excited by the way Evil Dead Rise has turned out: “We wanted to show audiences the next generation of Evil Dead, which is way more horrifying now. I mean, the shit that you can do and the tricks that you can play now? This audience is doomed! And this was made with the best crew in all of New Zealand. Because of all the movies and TV shows that shoot down there, they have great crews—and they all have to suck up to Rob Tapert, because he’s doled out a lot of work over the years. [Tapert laughs] So Lee [Cronin, Rise’s writer/director] had one of the best teams you could ever get.”
For his part, Raimi won’t commit to taking the reins on another Evil Dead opus at this time. But the filmmaker who last helmed a fright feature with 2009’s Drag Me to Hell does let us know, “I’d like to direct another horror picture. I’m looking for another good horror script to make right now.” In the meantime, you can read more from the trio on Evil Dead Rise in the soon-to-arrive FANGORIA #19!