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Campbell to fans: Don't prejudge new movie

| Thursday, April 4, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Fede Alvarez still remembers the first time he watched “The Evil Dead.”

Inside a darkened Santa Monica editing bay where he was putting the finishing touches on his remake of the 1981 horror film, the Uruguay native recalled when he was 12, and he and a friend had ventured into a video store near his home in Montevideo, urging the clerk to recommend something really scary.

“We were done with all the ‘Nightmares on Elm Street' and ‘Friday the 13th,' ” said Alvarez, whose “Evil Dead” opens April 5. “We asked the guy, ‘We've seen it all, give us something real.' I remember him looking around, and he was like, ‘Here, take this, kid, and run.' ”

More than 30 years after its initial release, there remains something delightfully transgressive about “The Evil Dead,” the ultra-low-budget horror flick that launched one of horror cinema's most oddball franchises and the directing career of an enterprising kid from Michigan named Sam Raimi.

Raimi's trilogy (1981's “The Evil Dead,” 1987's “Evil Dead II” and 1992's “Army of Darkness”) has inspired the same kind of fervent devotion typically on display at “Star Trek” conventions. Fans have snapped up “Evil Dead” video games, toys and collectibles and countless iterations of the films on DVD and Blu-ray. There's even a long-running “Evil Dead” stage musical that's played across the U.S. and Canada, in addition to South Korea and Japan.

Still, the idea of an “Evil Dead” movie without Raimi directing or Campbell in the starring role left the fan base more than a little anxious. And that's where Campbell, who produced the new “Evil Dead,” with Raimi and their longtime collaborator Rob Tapert, comes in. His job is to preach to the members of Raimi's choir of acolytes in hope of claiming some converts to the cause.

“First, there's the ‘Noooooos,'” said Campbell of the reaction that greeted the project on Twitter. “Lots of O's, lots of exclamation points. But I'm like, ‘Hey, man, don't complain until it's time to complain. See it and decide for yourself.' ”

Gina McIntyre is a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.

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