Welcome to Will Mom Like This? an exploration into the trials and tribulations of sharing your favorite scary movies with family. Sharing movies with loved ones is a beautiful thing. As beautiful as it is, I think we have all experienced moments so uncomfortable you wish the couch would swallow you whole. In this new monthly column, I’m going to try and help you avoid that as much as possible. My hope is that this will work as a sort of guide for you to know when you should excuse yourself to refill the popcorn bowl and avoid the wrath of a disgruntled or disgusted parent. Be warned, we will be discussing a lot of plot spoilers but only so we don’t spoil a perfectly good evening with your folks.
It’s still March Break month fiends, which means we are still celebrating the best of the best in vacation horror and all things broken, from bones to psyches. If you’re like me, you’re at a point where you would pay an ungodly amount of money to be able to safely go on a vacation no matter how small. I don’t need anything fancy, I’d be happy to spend just a night in a little cabin in the woods, much like the hapless teens from today’s feature, The Evil Dead (1981) directed by Sam Raimi.
I know for a fact that my mom is jonesing for a vacation as much as I am, and what better way to make her forget about it than by showing her a prime example of a vacation gone wrong. We all know I severely misjudged what my mom would appreciate in a movie last month with Raw (2016), so I tried to manage my expectations a bit more this month. Sure, the production value may not hold up in this day and age and there are some ….questionable choices (more on that later), but The Evil Dead is a classic so surely she’d be able to appreciate it from that standpoint, right? RIGHT?! Let’s find out.
The first time my mom said she was scared was before the movie even started, which I thought was promising. For those unfamiliar with The Evil Dead, the plot centers around a group of five friends, led by Ash (Bruce Campbell) in a cabin who set loose a horde of demons and spirits that one by one possess the teens, transforming them into deadites. On the Amazon Prime loading screen for the movie, we see a picture of one of the girls post deadite transformation and my mom immediately said “ew, what is that.” A lot of the comments she made going forward also started with “ew,” so get ready for that.
The amount of blood and guts in The Evil Dead is so severe that it is worthy of its own category, but there’s plenty of other stuff to be scared by in the movie, and they all spoke to my mother. Each time one of the teens transformed into a deadite, she liked it less and less. First, we have Ash’s sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) transforming in a truly excellent scene that culminates in her levitating and screeching in a spooky demonic voice. I love this, but my mom not so much, giving out another “ew,” and asking “whose idea was this movie?” Her reactions to the deadite transformations only escalated from there, including completely turning herself into a pretzel while screaming, and of course throwing pillows and such at the tv. I know this movie gets a bad rap for the effects aging poorly, but they sure worked on my mom, so THERE!
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“The amount of blood and guts in The Evil Dead is so severe that it is worthy of its own category, but there’s plenty of other stuff to be scared by in the movie, and they all spoke to my mother.“
Another element of The Evil Dead that managed to work on my mom were the jump scares, of which there are several. Her reactions got so severe that my Dad texted our group chat when he could hear her screaming from 3 rooms down. One of the advantages of watching movies with my mom on Zoom is that I can turn the volume down whenever she gets in a good shriek. One very memorable jump scare occurs when Ash is standing with his back to the door and two deadite hands shoot through the wood to grab him, and that send her off the couch, it was amazing. She didn’t seem to think so, telling me “this sucks man.”
Hands down though the absolute scariest part of The Evil Dead for my mom was when Ash’s girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker) turns into a deadite and begins taunting him in a sing-songy way, which funnily enough is where the picture that scared her on the loading screen came from. This is the kind of thing that pops up from time to time in horror movies and shows, and anytime I’ve seen this sort of creepy singing with my mom, she absolutely freaks out. Her eyes bugged out of her head when Linda started singing “we’re gonna get you,” and for days after we watched the movie, she continued to tell me how much it scared her. “I don’t like being mocked by ghouls,” she explained unprompted.
Sex and Nudity
The Evil Dead is not primarily a sexy or sexual movie, but the limited instances are worthy of their own header in this case. The first case involved a pair of boobs being seen through a window and my mom pointed them out to me and I pretended not to see. But the real reason that we are all here is the most infamous scene from The Evil Dead in which Cheryl is attacked by the demonic trees of the forest and is penetrated by one of the sentient branches. I was getting a little nervous, a little hot under the collar, as we approached the tree rape scene and my mom picked up on that energy. “It worries me when you think something is objectionable,” she told me, and she was right to be worried! It’s pretty graphic and very uncalled for, and Sam Raimi himself even regrets including it in the film, which I find comforting as a fan. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it is difficult to watch. I was watching my mom’s face on the Zoom call more than I was watching the movie so I got the treat of seeing her curl into a ball on the couch and flap her hands at the screen, shouting “oh dear” over and over again. Oh dear indeed.
Blood and Guts
Separate from the general terror my mom experienced while watching The Evil Dead, we needed to devote special attention to the sheer amount of blood in this movie. It is out of control and I had woefully underprepared my mom for that fact. Pretty immediately into the run time, she asked me “is somebody gonna lose their eyeballs?” and I swear she has a sixth sense for that because yes they absolutely do.
It doesn’t take long for the gore to pick up, and fairly early on, someone gets a pencil stabbed into their ankle in a very closeup shot and my mom absolutely keeled over. Later, there’s a scene where Shelly (Theresa Tilly), post deadite transformation, gets her hand partially sawed off, then she chews the rest of it off herself, then she gets stabbed in the back, the entire time spurting blood absolutely everywhere. It is so much and goes on for so long and this is when my mom started getting mad. “Uh oh,” I thought to myself, we are done for, there’s no coming back from this, game over movie.
“[…] I can at least say with confidence that [Mom] wasn’t bored.“
Luckily, I was a little bit wrong because after some time passed, she became more concerned with the fact that the character’s wounds were so inconsistent. Scottie (Richard DeManincor) gets a pretty sizable chunk gouged out of his face by deadite Shelly and maybe a scene or two later, it looks like he just has a scrape and my mom could not abide by such continuity errors. But she bounced right back when Ash gets stabbed at one point and there is more bloodletting and she dove right back into “that is nuts.”
A really great point my mom made is that at a certain point the blood almost didn’t bother her because there was just so much of it that it became unbelievable. I don’t know if this would hold water if you’re particularly squeamish about blood, but it really does start to lose its shock value or potency once there’s just so much of it on screen. Even more unbelievable is one particular portion that uses stop motion to demonstrate the deadites disintegrating. It’s super interesting and very stylistically different from the rest of The Evil Dead so I was interested to see what my mom would have to say. At first she didn’t say anything, but after a moment to ponder it she said “that was weird.”
Miscellaneous Pearls Of Wisdom
While most of the events in The Evil Dead that produced a strong reaction from my mom are able to fit neatly into the headers above, some of her best takeaways defy categorization. Please enjoy at your discretion:
- Her overwhelming hatred of the character Scottie lead to quotes like “Scottie is a tool” and “I hope he dies first,” or my personal favorite, “Scottie look what you gone done and did.”
- “I’m kind of glad it’s so dark, I don’t want to see.”
- Moments before the evil spirit wooshes through the house to smack Ash in the face: “A bright new tomorrow. It’s going to be alright.”
- And moments after: “Oh for Pete’s sake
But Did Mom Like It?
So the time came to ask the age old question, did Mom like that? A little bit! I think! I took note of the fact that she didn’t complain once about the runtime, which has become almost a standard on our journey of Will Mom Like This. So I can at least say with confidence that she wasn’t bored. I did ask during our viewing if she was having fun and she replied with, “well I’m…” and trailed off, never finishing that sentence. I think for her, it lives in the happy middle of weird, gross, and fun, and I think that may be the best we could’ve hoped for. All that being said, 2/5 moms would recommend. Even if your parental figure is not too traumatized by the blood and the scares, it may be a tough sell unless the mood is exactly right.
Have you ever watched The Evil Dead with a parental figure? What would make them hate it first? The blood? The tree scene? The 80s fashion? Let us know over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Want horror delivered right to your inbox? Check out the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.