Consider this: how many people would argue that the Star Wars prequels wouldn't have been better off if Lucas had limited himself to a producer role, while turning the reigns over to a new generation of artists with a passion for the material? It seems that Lucas made the prequels solely to appease his fans, rather than out of any burning need to continue the story that made him legendary 20+ years prior. And do I need to mention the fourth Indiana Jones film?
It seems that Sam Raimi has taken a lesson from Lucas and Spielberg and has allowed his original vision to be reinterpreted by those eager to do it. I've seen many calls for him to make another sequel, rather than a remake, but if Raimi had another Evil Dead story to tell, he'd be doing it, right? The fact is, Raimi has new interests, and the prospect of revisiting the work from his youth simply doesn't appeal to him. I'm satisfied that he made the right call, and is allowing for a reinterpretation of his horror classic rather than trying to recapture the magic. And really, what is more disappointing, a remake that doesn't livve up to the original, or a half-hearted sequel that reveals the original creator's disinterest in the material?
I orignally saw the Evil Dead trilogy in reverse order. After a hilarious-looking preview, I made a point to catch Army of Darkness in the its original theatrical run. I didn't even know it was a sequel to anything. I adored it, and when I found out about the Evil Dead movies, I immediately sought them out. My local video store didn't have the original at the time, so I watched Evil Dead 2 next, and fell in love with its mix of goofy slapstick and horror. After a few years, I tracked down the original and was vastly disappointed. It seemed to take itself too seriously in light of the other films, and I chalked it up to a mediocre first attempt.
Years later, I've grown to appreciate the original, especially given its historical context. Few had seen that level of gore before, and while the acting was slightly cheesy, and the special effects were severely dated even a decade ago, I now appreciate the creepiness of the concept, and enjoy the film more every time I watch it. But the prospect of a remake excites me. I see in my mind's eye what the movie could be, if given the proper respect.
A lot of people are up in arms about Diablo Cody's involvement with the project. While I'm not too big on Jennifer's Body, I thought Juno was a fine film. Yes, the dialougue is a bit over-the-top, but coming out of Ellen page's mouth, it makes sense. It's a film about some very intelligent, quirky people, and I think it succeeds admirably. With Jennifer's Body, I thought the dialogue sounded overblown and unnatural, but I've never been certain whether that was a defect in the script, or if it was just beyond Megan Fox's ability to pull it off.
And no, the dialogue is not realistic, but that's kind of the point. The first movie I saw that had completely realistic dialogue was Matty Rich's Straight Outta Brooklyn, which I hated because rather than meaningful dialogue that pushes the plot forward or is entertaining in its own right, it seemed to use dialogue mainly to fill space. People in general are pretty inarticulate, so realistic dialogue must necessarily consist of way too many "ums" and fragmented sentences. One of my best Shakespeare professors used to relate the story of his decision to become a Shakespeare scholar. His father's main objection was that, "people don't talk like that anymore." His response was that people never actually talked like they do in Shakespearean plays. The dialogue is stylized and idealized, and that's the point.
And while Cody's writing style may not seem ideal for a serious remake of The Evil Dead, take comfort that she was brought in merely to "punch up" the dialogue. She didn't write the whole script, and I'm pretty confident that if she goes overboard with too-clever dialogue, it will be corrected by the producers and the director.
Bottom line: Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, who made their careers on these films, will be involved, so we're in good hands. Nobody wants to see this movie fail. And for every The Haunting and Prom Night remake out there, there's also a Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, and The Ring. While I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, if I could pre-order tickets right now, my eight bucks would be spent.