Fantasia Fest 2020: In 2020, it can be difficult to celebrate the fandoms of the most popular intellectual properties. Star WarsGame of Thrones, and many more have become hotbeds of vitriol through social media. Finding non-toxic fandoms is a breath of fresh air and Hail to the Deadites keys in on the one surrounding Evil Dead. The original 1981 film kicked off one of Hollywood’s most unconventional franchises. With nearly six years between each iteration, the reputation continued to build as a cult phenomenon. These humble origins have led to a devoted fanbase that spans generations.

Director Steve Villeneuve brings together fans from around the world to celebrate everything Evil Dead. While no footage from the original films is used in the film, Villeneuve has no problem creating the vibes of the franchise. Hard rock and fun comedy music inspired by the films litter the soundtrack. Fan recreations, claymation, and hand-drawn animation are used to showcase popular moments from the franchise. Beyond the replications, the doc uses talking heads from members of the fandom, as well as the cast and crew of the films.  They wisely choose to leave the lore about the making of the film out of the final product, instead of devoting the majority of the footage to celebrating those within the fandom itself. The only real drawback is little to footage devoted to the 2013 Evil Dead and very little devoted to Ash vs. Evil Dead TV Series.

Villeneuve and his team keep upbeat energy throughout the film but make time for emotional and heartfelt detours when needed. The love is real and for many of the fans interviewed, plays an emotional part in their lives. Several of the stories will pull at your heartstrings, so bring the tissues. The actors give their impressions of the fandom, with each reiterating their love and support for the fandom. Others have weird and unique memorabilia that you would never expect to be saved. Some of it seems silly, but it’s hard to ignore the sentimental value that everyone holds for their little piece of the franchise.

Bruce Campbell was clearly game to contribute time to the documentary, which helps sell the positivity and excitement of everyone involved. Campbell waxes poetic about what makes Evil Dead iconic, but it’s difficult to argue with his arguments. Villeneuve and his team travel to local festivals across the US and Canada, watch a performance of Evil Dead: The Musical, and attend costume contests.  The film works as a love-letter to a community and fandom. Hail to the Deadites does not do anything especially revolutionary but it is exactly the kind of positive documentary we need to celebrate the horror franchise.

GRADE: (½)

What do you think of Hail to the Deadites? Let us hear your thoughts below! 

The 2020 Fantasia Film Festival is running virtually from August 20th through September 2nd, 2020. 

All images are courtesy of the Fantasia Film Festival and the filmmakers.

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