Steve Villeneuve’s “Hail to the Deadites” is a documentary about “Evil Dead” that touts itself as not featuring any kind of footage from the original films at any point. You’d think that would hinder the experience, but that only benefits the feature in the end. “Hail to the Deadites” is an unabashed love letter to the fans and the fans only. It explores the various facets of “Evil Dead” fandom, how all three movies have affected their lives, and how Bruce Campbell has become a source of inspiration to many.
Through interviews with the cast, crew, collectors, fans, freaks and geeks, “Hail to the Deadites” seeks to illuminate the darkest reaches of the franchise’s undying and still-growing popularity, a popularity that has spawned four films, a TV series, comic books, figurines, and surpassed even its creator’s wildest dreams. Besides meeting with fans around the world, there are interviews with Evil Dead franchise cast members such as Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Tom Sullivan, and more.
“Hail to the Deadites” is a very polished and energetic documentary that doesn’t waste time on the making of the trio of movies, and instead dives head first in to how much the movies have been emulated by fans. Villeneuve and co. travels around the country looking for fans, all of whom have something interesting to contribute to this chronicle. There’s the Ash look alike whose one wish is to meet Campbell, the stage group creating a horror rock musical based on “Evil Dead,” the young couple who found love in their rabid appreciation for the series, and the collector who has accumulated various knick knacks including a rock from the set.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg for “Hail to the Deadites” which excels thanks to its excellent research and delving in to the deep often under appreciated fandom for Sam Raimi’s (noticeably absent from the documentary) films. Villeneuve spends a lot of time with Campbell who is very genuine in his love for the fans, even though he does have a good time busting their chops during a look-alike contest. In either case, “Hail to the Deadites” is a breezy, fun, and energetic ode to the classic horror franchise, it’s one that might even inspire you to re-visit the series all over again.
The Fantasia International Film Festival runs every year, and this year runs virtually from August 20th until September 2nd.