"The Weekend Rent offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Friday.
Everyone is calling the new Evil Dead in theaters a remake of Sam Raimi's 1981 The Evil Dead, but is it really? What seems like a remake or reboot might actually be a setup to merge the storyline of this new movie with that of the original series featuring star Bruce Campbell, who is likely to return in Army of Darkness 2 (the fourth film in the original Evil Dead series). If you check out Evil Dead in theaters this weekend, stick around after the credits and tell us if you think the bonus footage is a clue as to how the original series and the new movie might be all part of one bigger Deadite universe.
Whether the new Evil Dead is a remake, reboot or cleverly disguised sequel, it's still giving us cabin fever. Is there a more perfect horror-film setting than an isolated cabin in the woods? Whether the threatening outside forces are zombies, psychopaths, werewolves, monsters or viruses, filmmakers keep going back to the cabin-in-the-woods scenario. Here are 10 of our favorites.
Night of the Living Dead: OK, so it's technically a farmhouse and not a cabin, but George A. Romero's seminal zombie classic has its characters barricade themselves in said isolated farmhouse while hordes of the undead try to claw their way in to eat them.
Friday the 13th: The 1980 slasher classic had the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake spread out in several cabins on the property. Prior to opening for the kiddies on one stormy dark night, an unhinged Mrs. Voorhees goes a little knife happy because her son, Jason, drowned years earlier while the counselors were holed up in a cabin having premarital sex—and horror fans know what that means.
The Evil Dead: Sam Raimi's original film shot on 16 mm stars Bruce Campbell as Ash, who travels to the cursed cabin in the woods with his girlfriend and friends. The quiet dead become the evil dead when the Necronomicon is discovered, read from, and the group becomes susceptible to possession by dark forces in the woods.
Evil Dead 2: This 1987 sequel to The Evil Dead is also directed by Raimi and has Campbell return as Ash. But since the story kind of follows the original and Ash seems to have no memory of the events of the first film, Evil Dead 2 feels more like a remake with better gore effects and a helping of demented humor thanks to Campbell's over-the-top performance. Groovy!
Cabin Fever: The title is really on the nose for the subject du jour, but no cabin-in-the-woods horror list would be complete without Eli Roth's gross tale about a group of beer-loving, pot-smoking young adults that drink the contaminated water at their cabin and start to have their flesh slough off. Yes, this time the threat comes from inside the cabin, making a simple faucet way scarier than Mrs. Voorhees.
The Strangers: Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play a couple spending a night at his parents' remote summer home while a bunch of masked psychos keep trying to get inside. Spoiler: they get in. They always get in. You know this by now.
Misery: Oh, what an "oogie mess" Kathy Bates' Annie Wilkes makes for writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan) when she rescues her favorite author from a car crash and keeps him prisoner at her isolated mountain home so he can write a book to her liking. Bates won the Oscar for Best Actress for her unhinged performance as Sheldon's "number-one fan" in this popular Stephen King adaptation, so film snobs who dismiss this all as "horror junk" can take it up with the Academy.
Pumpkinhead: After a bunch of partying teens accidentally kill the young son of local yokel Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen), the teens regroup at their cabin in the woods while Ed visits a local witch and has her unleash the monster Pumpkinhead for revenge. Stay away from those windows, kids.
Dog Soldiers: Neil Marshall's under-seen 2002 gem follows a group of British soldiers dropped into the woodsy Scottish Highlands for a training mission who end up holed up in—what else?—a remote cabin home as a pack of vicious werewolves try to get in and rip them apart.
The Cabin in the Woods: The brilliance of this story written by director Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon is that it takes everything we know about the cabin-in-the-woods scenario (see the nine movies listed above) and turns it on its head. Yes, it starts with five college students traveling in their van to a remote cabin in the woods to party and fornicate, but they are being observed by an outside organization that is monitoring their every move and manipulating their environment. When the undead redneck family shows up at the cabin, that is really the least of the group's worries.
All of the movies listed above are available on DVD and/or Blu-ray as well as VOD services.