Available on Blu-Ray from Mon 29 May 2017
Homage isn’t an unusual thing in film, particularly when it comes to sci-fi and horror. When a film speaks to you, especially if its appeal has eluded the mainstream, it’s a beautiful thing. When done well, the result can be classics in their own right. Think of Tim Burton’s heartfelt mid-nineties gems Ed Wood and Mars Attacks!, peons to the wobbly, campy sci-fi of the fifties; or Peter Jackson’s early love letters to the era of the video nasties, Bad Taste and Braindead. However, sometimes you just end up wishing you were watching the beloved originals. Evil Ed falls into that category.
Ed (Johan Rudebeck) is a mild-mannered film cutter who is assigned to the “splatter and gore department” of the censorship board and tasked with removing the excessive sex and violence from the “Loose Limbs” series of films in order to make them palatable for European distribution. The repeated exposure to the ridiculously gory imagery eventually sends poor Ed insane and he embarks on a murderous rampage.
Evil Ed literally wears its influences on its celluloid sleeve. Posters of Evil Dead II, Cronenberg’s The Fly and Prince of Darkness among many others. There’s no denying the love of the genre that the filmmakers bring to the project. They even inject an element of satire – the set up implicitly mocks the old Swedish censorship board, the Statens biografbyrå, not officially disbanded until 2011; and thumbs its nose at the oft-posited assertion that there is a correlation between movie violence and it’s real-life counterpart. It’s almost hard to take too strongly against the film purely for its sheer brass neck.
It doesn’t take long for any goodwill to evaporate however, as it’s impossible to deny that Evil Ed is an objectively bad film. Poorly made, poorly acted, and the worship of other, far superior films just makes you wonder why you aren’t watching those. Evil Dead II and Bad Taste are funnier, gorier, and are infinitely more creative. Director Jacobsson merely bombards the screen with references and tries to get by on the pleasant buzz generated by its familiarity. There’s the delirious first-person camera rush from The Evil Dead, there’s the syringe filled with green liquid from Re-Animator, there’s a beast that’s ripping off Gremlins and Critters. Once you’re thinking of those movies, you cry out for an icon like Bruce Campbell or Jeffrey Combs to pull the mess together. Rudebeck just isn’t up to the task.
Evil Ed is just pretty disastrous on every level. It’s shoddily made, bafflingly paced, and lacks even the tiniest spark of the movies it tries so desperately to mimic. It doesn’t even achieve the dubious accolade of being so bad that it’s good, as it arguably sets out to be terrible in its failed quest for cult status. If there’s any merit at all, it just makes you remember how good The Evil Dead is.