October 13, 2009
Really, why shouldn’t Evil Dead be made into a musical? After all, death is quite a showstopper. It worked for Romeo and Juliet. Remember the closing scene where Leonardo DiCaprio eats it (well, drinks a vial of it) and then Claire Danes wakes up, gets all emo, and blows her brains out with Romeo’s custom-made nickel-plated .45? Balls out, Claire! Stunning visual. Queue the Wagner and … scene! Death sure does tidy up the unresolved plotlines, even though it messes up the set. It works for God though, so it must be the right way to go. Death also has a big closing scene in Hamlet … well, except for the Gilligan’s Island version. In the castaways’ production of Hamlet: The Musical, nobody dies at all, although the depressed Dane and his associates are pretty well butchered dramatically. The real Hamlet however, has an impressive body count. In fact, more people die in Hamlet than in Evil Dead. That might change at some point – especially if Rob Zombie decides to tackle the Bard – but those are solid statistics to date. Of course, in Hamlet, none of the dead people reanimate – unless you count Hamlet’s pops, who does stir the turd quite a bit with his whole revenge trip. It’s disturbing to think that in the afterlife old King Hamlet has nothing better to do than backseat drive his son into a murderous rage. Would it kill God to install some slot machines in the afterlife – at least maybe some Tetris? Similarly, the evil dead in The Evil Dead need to get a life too, which they do … apparently so they can pad the guest list of the afterlife. Here’s the basic plot: A group of Michigan State students go to a vacation cabin in Tennessee where they find an old tape recorder in the basement. When played, the tape unleashes evil spirits. First a girl gets raped by trees possessed by the evil dead (really evil dead, possessing vegetables is just beyond slumming), then she gets possessed herself and starts going all white-eyed and stabbing people with a pen. From there it’s all blood and guts, death and dismemberment: chainsaws, axes, daggers, shotguns, fireplace pokers – a veritable tool shed of prop-room implements slathered with gore. Imagine Hamlet, but with Gallagher doing the set direction. It’s easy to see why The Evil Dead would eventually find its way to the live stage. As far as being a musical, that was a natural too. You can’t expect thezbos to suppress all that voice and dance training indefinitely. Eventually somebody is going to have too many cosmos at happy hour and blurt out, “What if we make it a musical!?!?” If it happened to The Grapes of Wrath, then it can happen to anything … Schindler’s List … Requiem for a Dream … Brian’s Song … and you can only imagine the big tap-dancing production at the end of My Left Foot. In contrast, Evil Dead: The Musical doesn’t seem so evil at all. When you really study the evidence, you realize that the dead aren’t nearly as evil as the living – they just have really bad PR. Dead people didn’t try to exterminate the Jews, sew together a bodysuit made of human skin, or author The Bridges of Madison County. Dead people are harmless. That’s why evil living people are always trying to make more of them. And yet, just because life is infinitely tragic doesn’t mean it isn’t infinitely comic as well. In fact, the two are so hopelessly intertwined it’s pointless to try to separate them. Your glass is either half full or it’s half full of blood. Drink up! This Saturday you can belly up to the bloodbath at the Salvage Vanguard Theater: its very own production of Evil Dead: The Musical! Make sure to wear something white and pay the extra $5 for “splatter zone” seating. After Saturday night’s show there is also a special Dead Man’s Party, with live bands, munchies, and more visual gore. How’s that for a good closing scene?