Directed by: Steve Villeneuve. Runtime: 1h 20 min. Released: This film is playing as a part of the Blood in the Snow Film Festival.
Writer/director Steve Villeneuve takes us from Comic Con to Comic Con as we learn stories about the fans of the Evil Dead franchise in a love letter to the franchise and to the fans, Hail to the Deadites.
Me personally, I’m a fan of the films and own each on Blu-Ray or DVD, but that’s about it. It’s nothing compared to these fans who immerse themselves in the culture and have insane collections. I collect Blu-Ray’s, but this is the kind-of film that makes me want to collect memorabilia, too.
Villeneueve’s film is one that makes this culture look like a lot of fun and shows it’s such a strong community for those who do immerse themselves in it. This is especially the case for the cosplayers, like Adam M. King (pictured in the featured image), who cosplays as the hero Ash (Bruce Campbell) from Evil Dead.
Although this film is about the fans, there are a couple great voices here from the cast and crew, especially Bruce Campbell himself who pops up throughout and gives his voice about the fans being so important. It’s also great seeing some people involved with the films getting just as much love from the fans, especially one of the special effects creators on the film, Tom Sullivan. A moment in the documentary where someone asks Sullivan to help with a special moment is one of the film’s highlights.
With that, I don’t want to spoil a lot of the film’s main arcs – there are three main stories here that I found really interesting – with Sullivan, cosplayer Adam, and also a radio host – and I was surprised at this film’s emotional power just learning about these fans and how much the films mean to them.
It’s charming to watch, and it’s fun because just like Ash is the everyman in these movies, it’s kind-of cool to see just regular people so heavily featured in this documentary. Just regular people who are really excited about film. I also enjoyed seeing bits of fan films throughout the film in archive footage, which usually shows up when someone references something specific in the films and we’ll get a shot of that moment in a fan film instead (like Evil Dead in 60 Seconds, for example).
Villeneuve does a great job of getting all these talking heads from multiple conventions and traveling to see people’s collections and getting a variety of voices. However, I think the one main missing component is not getting voices from these fan film directors. There are some moments where we learn that the Evil Dead films made certain people want to become filmmakers, but I think it would have been an interesting interview to hear about someone who actually made of one of these fan films that pop up throughout the film. That’s only a mild complaint, and otherwise Hail to the Deadites is a well worthwhile look into the fandom of a great horror franchise that is entertaining and heartwarming.