Review: ‘Hail To The Deadites’ – Evil Dead fandom documentary (FrightFest/FantasiaFest 2020)

Directed by Steven Villenueve (Under The Scares), ‘HAIL TO THE DEADITES’ is a brand-new documentary about the fans of the EVIL DEAD films and explores the classic franchise’s undying and ever-growing popularity. The film features interviews with ‘Evil Dead’ franchise cast/crew including Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Tom Sullivan, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Sarah Berry, Rick Domeier & Bill Moseley; although the film centres on a group of hardcore ‘deadites’ from around the world.

We are off to a strong start with an exciting 3D animated opening montage that perhaps is a nod to the visual flair of Sam Raimi’s ‘Evil Dead’ films (all credit to the art and graphic team!) which is accompanied by an excellent electro/rock scoring from Ian Blumfield; who later balances this with softer under-pinning for the film’s more emotional moments and even some fun ‘Evil Dead’ related needle-drops. This sets the pace and feel for the film; which continues throughout it’s entire 80minute run-time, even offering fun content right through to the closing seconds of the credits. Documentaries like this can often feel too long or poorly paced however with this film I actually found myself pausing at various times and being both surprised and delighted to find there was a significant amount of run-time still left.

Hail To The Deadites offers some great new candid interviews with Evil Dead alumni such as Bruce Campbell but also highlights some perhaps lesser-known names such as special effects wizard Tom Sullivan as the film-makers follow them around various fan conventions and they relate their experiences and relationship with the fans over the years. This is not however a ‘making-of’ or ‘behind-the scenes’ focussed documentary; and while we touch on the making of the films the focus is more on the lasting cultural impact of Evil Dead and more importantly the fans themselves. Through their journey the film-makers are able to tell the incredibly personal (and in some cases, moving & emotional) stories of the fans; for most of whom following the films has been a life-long passion that has spawned friendships and relationships along the way. I feel like this aspect of ‘fandom’ is universal and makes this film an enjoyable and relatable watch not just for fans of ‘Evil Dead’ but also all fans of pop culture and media in general.

The film uses the framing device of narration which tells the film-makers story of their journey travelling to make the film; this may at first sound like a slightly cliched and lazy approach but in this case it works perfectly at setting the stage for the film which sets such a high bar for itself and it is delightful to see Villenueve and crew stick the landing with great aplomb as I didn’t feel the quality slipped at-all throughout; perhaps a testament to the film-makers passion for their subject matter. The one notable exception from the film’s interviewees is ‘Evil Dead’ creator Sam Raimi (perhaps unsurprisingly as he rarely gives interviews) but to be honest this film offers so much that his absence is not really felt.

Overall – we rate this documentary as GROOVY! A must watch of FrightFest/FantasiaFest 2020 – 5/5


The film has it’s European Premiere as part of FrightFest 2020 – Digital Edition and will be available for ticket-holders to stream 3.00 PM (BST) – SUNDAY 30TH AUGUST following the World Premiere at Fantasia Fest 2020 (Streaming from August 20th to September 3rd). Both festival screenings will geo-locked to the respective regions.

Follow the film at hailtothedeadites.com


Order the Evil Dead Trilogy now from Amazon

Interview with Betsy Baker (The Evil Dead)

Arrow Video FrightFest going virtual in August for digital edition

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Check out details on our upcoming Kevin Smith fandom documentary: KevHeads currently in pre-production.

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