I have a soft spot for the live action cartoon style of the horror-comedy sub-genre, complete with over-the-top gore and purposefully exaggerated performances and direction. It looks easy to poke fun at an especially schlocky brand of horror while at the same time exploiting its cliches, but it's actually a very hard tone to capture right. Make it too goofy and self-referential, it's a ZAZ parody. Make it too dull or self-serious, the whole thing just comes across as a bad horror flick, rather than a tongue-in-cheek exploration of bad horror flicks. Perhaps that's why there's only a handful of titles, and only two directors, that immediately come to mind when talking about this approach: Evil Dead, Dead Alive, Bad Taste, the usual suspects.
The Swedish team of low budget filmmakers were obviously very much influenced by Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson's early work when putting together Evil Ed during the first half of the 90s. The project started off as a short film, then it was completed to a feature through a five-year production period. The DIY low budget charm of the bizarre story of a film editor (Johan Rudebeck) who goes insane and goes on a killing spree after being influenced by the violent images on a sleazy slasher flick series he's editing is present in every frame. Director Anders Jacobson and his two co-writers are obviously big fanboys of genre cinema. Pretty much every scene has a poster of a famous 80s and 90s horror film, the dialogue is filled with references to these movies, and even a lot of the gruesome kills are directly influenced by them.
There's enough unique creativity and logic-be-damned ingenuity and energy at display here to have Evil Ed stand on its own, but the overall execution still leaves a lot to be desired. It becomes obvious early on that Evil Ed began its life a short, since the premise is not developed enough to fill an entire feature. Once Ed, the editor, goes crazy from watching the footage, the film turns into an episodic series of nightmare sequences, each one taking their cue from a film or a franchise that Jacobson obviously loves. There are grotesque mischievous puppets that resemble Gremlins, attempts at gunplay that are straight out of John Woo's playbook, and even a devil figure who looks suspiciously like Tim Curry from Legend.
Yet these parts don't come together to create a cohesive experience, and Evil Ed mainly ends up as a series of vignettes in search of a story. The slow pacing is a big problem. There's too much filler in between the zany and manic genre-specific scenes. Letting a ridiculous film like this breathe for too long before jumping back into the insanity is a recipe for disaster as far as this subgenre is concerned. The dull, flat, and awkward acting don't help much either. The cast is completely Swedish, with the actors attempting and failing to nail the American accent, slang, and even basic inflections in the language.
Video and Audio:
Since we only got a BD-R review copy so far, we can't fairly assess the A/V specs. We'll update this section once the retail copy is sent to us.
Introduction: This 4-minute intro shows the filmmakers talking about their vision for the film.
"You Keep ‘Em Heads Rolling": This is a loose and breezy making-of documentary that switches between new interview footage and behind the scenes video from the production.
Before Ed: A brief featurette about what the filmmakers were up to before making Evil Ed.
Beyond Ed: As you can guess, this one is about what they did after Evil Ed.
Reconstructing Ed: The first disc comes with the "Special Ed-ition" cut of Evil Ed, with six minutes of additional footage. This 20-minute documentary covers how this version came together.
New Scenes: If you want to watch the 6 minutes that were added, here they are.
Deleted Scenes: 20 minutes of excised material. The finished film already has a lot of filler, so this is for hard-core fans only.
We also get almost ten minutes worth of Teasers and Trailers, as well as a gallery full of production images.
There's also supposed to be a second disc with the original cut of the film and a whopping three-hour making-of documentary. However, we weren't provided with this disc, at least not yet.
Evil Ed is a valiant effort by a group of DIY filmmakers who obviously love the genre. But a lack of cohesive structure and an airtight pacing really drags it down. Still, it can be a fun rental for die-hard fans of the cartoonish horror/comedy gorefest.