Steve Villeneuve directs his very own documentary feature about the Deadites – it’s what the fans of the Evil Dead-franchise call themselves. He uses archival footage, interviews with the cast, crew, collectors, freaks, geeks and videos created by the fans, to put together a tribute to the movie Stephen King once called “the most ferociously original horror movie I have ever seen“.

Fresh from winning a Bronze Audience Award at the Fantasia Film Festival, ‘Hail to the Deadites‘ was recently acquired for a Canadian release by Indiecan Entertainment. Since the original cult classic was released in 1981, an ever-growing following has been supporting the franchise that now consists of four films, a TV-series, comic books, collector’s items and much more. The documentary wants to celebrate the stars these Deadites look up to, but in the meantime also points the camera in their direction, to understand where their love for Evil Dead comes from.

After IGN went looking for the biggest Evil Dead-fan, ahead of Fede Alvarez’s 2013 remake/sequel, Villeneuve had a conversation with uberfan Bri Cummings, who made him realize there’s a much bigger following than he ever could’ve imagined. This realization made him embark on a cross-country road trip to visit horror conventions all over the US and Canada, and finally meet all those other interesting individuals. Of course he’s not just there to meet the Deadites, but also the stars of the franchise, who never could’ve predicted the success it has today. Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly, Ellen Sandweiss, and many more share their experiences after the original trilogy garnered cult status over the last couple of decades.

Some of these experiences are quite heartfelt. A superfan and Evil Dead’s FX creator, Tom Sullivan, even conduct a marriage proposal in the crew members’ mini-museum at a horror convention in Ohio. This and other unique little anecdotes make ‘Hail to the Deadites‘ a unique movie watching experience that isn’t as much of an investigative report on the franchise itself, but was made to celebrate everyone who has been keeping the Evil Dead-spirit alive and kicking. Let us just hope the Necronomicon has nothing to do with this…

Professionally narrated by Scott Shaw and with a killer soundtrack by Ian Blumfield, the former cast members explain the success of Evil Dead. Evil Dead 2‘s Kassie Depaiva, who played Bobby Joe, claims it’s because of Sam Raimi‘s insight and Bruce Campbell‘s talent. The great script, over-the-top gore and inventive camera work made the 1981 classic a once-in-a-lifetime cinema experience, but the stars of the franchise know all too well they have to thank their immense success to the cosplayers, the musicals, the fanmade short films, and now also ‘Hail to the Deadites‘, which celebrates all that is Evil Dead and puts the fans front and center.

Villeneuve’s unconventional approach results in a from the heart celebratory research into the Deadites. Another step forward in preserving the legacy and memory that is Evil Dead. Groovy.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Review – ‘Hail To The Deadites’

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), September 24, 2020. Rating: TBC. Running time: 79 min.

PRODUCTION: An Indiecan release of a Diggerfilms production. Producer: Steve Villeneuve. Executive producer: Glen Alexander.

CREW: Director: Steve Villeneuve. Screenplay: Steve Villeneuve, Andre Farant. Editing: Steve Villeneuve. Cinematography: William Dio, Jonathan Bonenfant. Score: Ian Blumfield.

WITH: Bri Cummings, Martin Bruyere, Kevin Edwards, Robyn Lamblez, Adam King, Elise Holmes, Dennis Carter Jr., Don Campbell, AC McCray, Michael Witchy, John Dowding, Emanuele Crivello, Tom Sullivan, Richard Demanincor, Theresa Tilly, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Richard Domeier, Dan Hicks, Sarah Berry, Kassie Wesley Depaiva, Ted Raimi, Bill Moseley, Bruce Campbell.

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