Lisa (my wife) and I have a friend named Heather who is very talented. She can dance, she can sing. She acts. Heather’s cool.
Back in 2011 (don’t hold me to that year, but I’m pretty sure) Heather told us some exciting news. She had a part in a local production of a musical we might be interested in seeing.
Evil Dead the Musical.
That was such good news.
I used to make all of my friends watch my VHS copy of Evil Dead II. I want to specify “used to” because eventually all of my friends were properly indoctrinated. And I wore out that copy. And all my VCR’s have died. (I really need to get Evil Dead DVDs.)
So the idea of Sam Raimi’s classic Evil Dead universe being turned into a musical delighted me. And that a local theater group would be performing it. That’s groovy.
Before I continue too much further, if you’re expecting a review of the musical, I’ll get around to it, but before that I’d like to take a moment to reminisce about the events concerning my wife and I seeing the show (more than once), before talking about the show itself.
(If you have no interest in my anecdotes and I understand that entirely, just skip down a ways.)
Evil Dead the Musical was being presented just before Halloween in Frederick, Maryland. That city is about 30-40 minutes from Washington D.C. (depending entirely on traffic) but it’s in the middle of farm country. You wouldn’t expect there to be much of a theater scene.
But downtown Frederick unexpectedly has a pretty hip area, filled with cool shops, great restaurants, and small theaters. Yes yes, all you Brooklyn and San Francisco people have tons and tons of that. I know.
My wife is always up for heading into downtown Frederick (which is way easier than traveling to San Francisco or New York), and she was really looking forward to seeing this show. (I married wisely.) I did some research and discovered that there’s a fair amount of fake blood sprayed around as a special effect, so we knew that we’d have to get seats beyond the splash zone.
Back in college, I worked security on the concert committee. Gallagher came to town one year. (You young people might not know who Gallagher is. Sorry.) I knew about splash zones.
We’d planned a nice evening. Picked a cool hippie vegetarian place for dinner and afterwards strolled to the theater, enjoying the crisp Fall air. The venue was general admission, no assigned seats.
Me: Where should we sit in the theater, so we don’t get sprayed with fake blood?
Ticket Cashier: I’m sorry?
Me: We don’t want to sit in the splash zone.
Ticket Cashier: Oh. The whole theater is a splash zone.
Ticket Cashier: It’s not a big space, and you’ll get blood on you wherever you sit. But if you don’t want a lot of blood, just don’t sit in the back row center. You can buy some trashbags. They’re only a dollar.
My wife and I had miscalculated.
As I mentioned, we had decided to enjoy a date night out. We didn’t want to look too bummy, so we’d dressed up. Not super-formal, but we were wearing some nicer clothes than what might be wise.
We had thought we’d just sit in some corner of the theater that would be safe from flying blood. Nope. So we bought some trashbags to turn into makeshift ponchos for protection.
The show was awesome.
We told friends about the great experience and the next year (Halloween 2012) we’d convinced another couple to come see the show with us. They brought along their teenage daughter and other friends. That time around, we knew enough to dress in clothes we didn’t mind getting faux blood on. The teenagers in the group wore white. Because that’s how you should do this.
We ate at the same hippie vegetarian restaurant. A tradition was being forged!
We got to the theater early so we could get our pick of seats. The kids made sure they were front row center, so they would be hit by as much blood spray as possible.
(Remember when we were warned that the back row was the bad place to sit? That’s because a bucket of fake blood gets dumped on those unlucky enough to be sitting there. We weren’t near there, thankfully.)
We sat in the second row, directly behind the teens. We knew we were going to get hit somewhat with blood sprays, but we were going to use the youngsters as human shields. Mostly.
The show was awesome again.
Afterwards, we agreed that this should be a regular Halloween outing for our families. There was much enthusiasm among our blood soaked crew; we’d enjoyed an evening of singing and dancing Deadites. Delightful!
But that was the last we saw the of Evil Dead the Musical.
The theater opted to do something else the following year.
EVIL! Evil I say.
The Review (of Evil!)
For a quick review, the musical is faithful retelling of Evil Dead and Evil Dead II (with slight references to Army of Darkness.)
Ash Williams, the heroic buffoon who somehow manages to foil Deadites in three movies, is on a spring break adventure to a cabin in the woods with his girlfriend, his sister, his best friend, and his best friend’s … recently met female acquaintance.
The cabin is haunted. Super-haunted. Gonzo wackiness ensues. With tunes!
If you haven’t seen the movies, just see them, right now. (Be careful which Evil Dead you’re getting. The Sam Raimi one is great in its low budget cheesiness. The recent remake is much more intense. I suppose. I saw the trailer and said “whoa, no way.” I’m a big chicken.)
The songs are entertaining and catchy, featuring our young innocents singing about their weekend anticipations, about the backstory workplace romance between Ash and his girl Linda, and when the Deadite menace appears, Ash and his buddy sing about the unexpected state of their ladies. The song they sing is my favorite: WHAT THE F— WAS THAT?
(It ends up being some kind of a tango, if I recall correctly.)
I could give a breakdown on all the songs (especially the catchy numbers sung by the demonic Deadites) but it’s best I not. Just go see a local production if you can find one. I’m hoping that with the debut of Ash vs Evil Dead on the Starz network, there might be a renewed interest in the musical.
(You can also watch various bootleg college productions on YouTube, I think. But you can’t get sprayed with blood on YouTube. So go out and support the arts. And get messy.)
I’ve been writing about Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, and Ash vs Evil Dead since Halloween. Each post, I try to make a case that other popular movie series or television shows are actually part of the Evil Dead universe. Look, it’s just a thing I do.
Harry Potter and the Book of the Dead
The world of Harry Potter is much different than Ash Williams’ rural wooded Michigan, but there are some similarities. The library of Hogwarts has a complete section of Forbidden Knowledge books, and I’d argue that Ginny Weasley reading Tom Riddle’s diary was something like reading the Cliff Notes version of the Necronomicon.
And the Wizarding World definitely is connected to some dark, dark stuff.
In Evil Dead, nightmarish forces are described as existing in dark and remote places of the world, hungry to torture the living. That’s almost exactly what’s said about the Dementors when they’re introduced in The Prisoner of Azkaban.
The dementors have been under the control of and serve the wizarding community, but it’s clear that they respond to dark powers and are definitely a malevolent force.
A closer analog to the Deadites physically are the Inferi, who are literally animated corpses bound in service to a dark wizard.
They don’t seem to have the sarcastic wit of the Deadites though, but what Dark Wizard would allow his minions to back talk him?
I’d be worried about the Whomping Willow that’s located on school grounds, since the woods around the cabin in the Evil Dead movies get up to some shocking shenanigans.
That willow tree is totally possessed by the Deadite force.
Voldemort himself is basically a Deadite. Inhuman, monstrous in appearance, and particularly hard to kill.
But people don’t seem to be running in terror from a Deadite apocalypse in the Harry Potter books. Why would that be, if the Deadites might be all around, either in spirit form or as animated corpses? Well, the Wizarding World is filled with wizards. Their schooling includes dealing with all sorts of unnatural critters, so they seem to have a handle on living in such a world and have set up systems to protect themselves.
Probably because this guy was part of getting the upper hand on the Deadites back in Army of Darkness:
Too bad Ash was busy working at
S-Mart the Value Stop when Voldemort was terrorizing England. Possibly Harry could have made use of his unconventional Muggle approach to problems.
If you enjoyed this post on Evil Dead the Musical, I have more like it! Feel free to start with my introductory post celebrating Ash vs Evil Dead.
Images from (I believe) the original Canadian presentation of Evil Dead the Musical, as well as Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness and the Harry Potter movies. (I suppose Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Half-Blood Prince. Probably others.)
I make no claims to the images, but some claims to the text. So there.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2015 Some Rights Reserved