Fede Alvarez's new Evil Dead made its debut at SXSW over the weekend, and the immediate online reaction from festival-goers seemed generally positive. So it's no great surprise to learn that a sequel to the remake is now in the works from Alvarez and writer Rodo Sayagues.
Not to be outdone, original series producer and star Bob Tapert and Bruce Campbell have continued to fuel the story of a fourth film in the original series, but have clarified that (should it ever happen) it won't be Evil Dead 4... it'll be Army Of Darkness 2.
Starting with the new one, Alvarez announced that he's working on a follow-up to his own film to the sold-out audience at the SXSW screening. BD then collared Satagues for clarification, and learned that, while it's only at a very embryonic stage, the intention is to continue the story with new star Jane Levy.
"She's in for a lot more punishment," Satagues promises. "Fede and I are writing it now, and it's not going to be a remake of Evil Dead 2. It's going to directly follow this one and is going to be a whole different story." Asked if the tone would make a drastic turn into comedy as it did between the original first and second Evil Deads, the writer says not: "It's going to be more like the second half of this film. It's going to be more over-the-top; the escalation is going to continue."
Meanwhile, back in the original camp, the story that the Raimi brothers will be writing Evil Dead 4 over the summer seems no more likely than before (Raimi himself has said he feels a bit that he was pushed in to saying it was happening). People keep asking though, so the principal players keep giving. Bruce Campbell seems unconvinced: "Sam threatens this every six months. I've heard it a thousand times." But he does also say, "It may happen, who knows? I'm never going to say no. It'll be me and a walker fighting some other old guy."
And as we mentioned earlier, Tapert is keen to make a title distinction. "This would be Army Of Darkness 2," he says. "Everybody calls [the potential new continuation] Evil Dead 4, but Army Of Darkness wasn't called Evil Dead anywhere except by the fans."
Given Army Of Darkness' cliffhanger non-conclusion, we might have assumed that anyway. The thing is, that film has two equally-seen endings. [Spoilers follow, for this more-than 20-year-old film, so crybabies who haven't seen it should stop reading now before they feel their lives have been irrevocably ruined for the rest of time]. Both endings see Ash taking a magic potion and going to sleep in a 12th-century cave. The theatrical ending then cuts to him back at work at S-Mart in the present day, realising that the Deadites are still with him. But the video ending, has him emerge from his cave to a wasted post-apocalypse landscape.
It's hero-Ash versus loser-Ash. One gives us, "Hail to the king, baby!" The other, "Noooo, I slept too loooooong!" Both have their defenders, so which direction the next film decides is canonical is anyone's guess. We'd have to say that we think it's all academic since it's unlikely to ever happen, but we'd be totally happy to be proved wrong.
We'll also be totally happy to be proved right in our hope that the new Evil Dead, despite its remake-ness, is going to seriously deliver. We'll find out when it's released in the UK on April 19.