Hail to the Deadites
hail to the deadites | steve villeneuve | chris alexander | betsy baker | martin bruyere | bruce campbell | kassie wesley depaiva | richard domeier | documentary | canada | the evil dead | dan hicks | nightmares film festival | nff | better horror
Film: Hail to the Deadites
Director: Steve Villeneuve
Writer: Steve Villeneuve
Starring: Chris Alexander, Betsy Baker and Martin Bruyère
This was one of the films at the Nightmares Film Festival I was looking forward to. I’ll get into my history with this franchise here in a bit, but for me, horror documentaries are just fascinating. This wasn’t necessarily what I was expecting, but it still was something that resonated with me. The synopsis here is a documentary about the fans of the Evil Dead films and explores the classic franchise’s undying and every-growing popularity.
Coming into this, I was expecting a documentary more on the series of films, but was intrigued to see this is more about the fans. It is kicks off telling us that these 80 minutes is made by Evil Dead fans for Evil Dead fans. It is interesting is that we learn a bit about the two guys that we’re following are two fans that are a bit different from each other, but connected by their passion for this franchise.
To interject a bit about me here, I fell into the camp where my father got me the Army of Darkness VHS for my birthday growing up. My sister and I watched the heck out of it and we can still quote it to this day. I then watched the series backwards going to Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn and then finally The Evil Dead. As a life long horror fan, it is great to see how passionate these people are and that there are similar fans who got into the franchise like I did.
For this, we get to follow a few different super fans and their journey. We get to see someone like Adam King who is an Ash cosplayer and an amazing experience for him to then shift to A.C. McCray who has a heartfelt story that actually brought tears to my eyes. They come from different walks of life, but touched by this movie in different ways. It is interesting to hear their stories among the other fans as they recount how they were introduced and how this series has changed their lives.
This documentary also did a great job at getting to talk to the actors as well. We get Betsy Baker, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Richard Domeier, Dan Hicks, Ellen Sandweiss, Theresa Tilly and Tom Sullivan. None of them expected for it to become what it did. Some of them didn’t even know how popular it had gotten since this was such a small production with The Evil Dead and then the sequel got a bit bigger than that. I like to hear their experiences and how what they did all these years ago still affects fans today. What I like is that they were approached at a few different conventions and to see them interacting like they were with their fans.
I couldn’t get through this without talking about Bruce Campbell. He did sit down to do interviews here and he really had some great things to say. He does share a story about another actress and how a letter written to her changed her life. Bruce goes on to say that fans being passionate are good and actors really appreciate it, when handled in appropriate ways. That was something that really resonated with me. Plus there’s also this great interview with Ted Raimi where he had some inspiriting words.
What is also interesting here is that everything featured is Evil Dead related. The music is inspired by the movies and having fan films interspersed as well. We even get to see a bit of a stage production for The Evil Dead play. It just is really showing how deep the love for this series goes and how it has inspired others to create art, to things like I said in music or creating their fan-fiction/short films. This also really shows how great the horror community can be as well.
So now with that said, don’t come in expecting a documentary where you’re going to learn more about the franchise. It is really more to see about the fans and how this series has changed their lives. I really like that experts in the horror field interviewed as well as many people as they could get from the movies themselves. There’s even an interview with Bill Moseley who appeared in Army of Darkness. If you’re a fan of the series, I think this is really a fun watch to see how passionate the genre or certain films can be for people. I really enjoyed it and rate this as a good documentary for sure.
My Rating: 8 out of 10