In an effort to prove we don’t just watch “old” movies, Kristina at Speakeasy and myself thought it best to feature a movie from this century so I settled on this fright fest from Evil Dead maestro Sam Raimi.
It’s a film that I would suggest owes more than a nod to the 1958 Dana Andrews classic from Jacques Tourneur, Curse of the Demon. In this case it involves a gypsy curse and the three days of terror that an evil spirit causes in the life of the unfortunate Alison Lohman.
Raimi frames the film with a prologue that allows us to see the power of the Black Goat. A young medium attempts to use the powers of good to save a small boy who has been cursed but to no avail and loses the child to the demons of hell.
Fast forward to the girl next door type Miss Lohman who currently works at a bank under boss David Paymer. She has what seems like an ideal life with Justin Long as her loving fiancé. All that is about to change when actress Lorna Raver donning the make-up of an utterly grotesque elderly gypsy woman wanders up to her desk at the bank looking for an extension on her mortgage.
Raven stars as Mrs. Ganush who is other worldly in appearance and down right nasty looking. Lohman makes the tough decision of foreclosing in the hopes that it may earn the bank some dollars and land her the coveted assistant managers job. Bad timing as the old woman begins to beg on her knees in the center of the bank for mercy. When it isn’t given the terror is about to be unleashed.
Alison soon finds herself in a battle against the old hag and in a fight for her life. She seeks out the help of a fortune teller played by Dileep Rao who is himself terrified at what her future holds. He connects her to the aging medium from the prologue to let the plot takes it’s due course.
If you love the zaniness of Raimi’s Evil Dead series than you are the perfect target audience for this all out scare fest that doesn’t pull any of it’s punches. There’s some definite gag factors going on here with the Mrs. Ganush character. The attack she lays on poor girl next door Lohman is a nauseous head turner. But it’s oh so fun. Great job by Lorna Raver in this thankless role.
The blood spurts and the formaldehyde flows before the final scream is heard and though I grimaced often during the key scenes I loved every minute of this when I saw it on it’s initial release and did again with this revisit on blu-ray.
I also like the character as played by Alison. She’s needy yet earthy and when the going gets tough she grows into a strong willed character that you want to see succeed in fending off the demons and the somewhat decaying Mrs. Ganush. There’s a definite rooting interest here.
I’m a little bit surprised that this film didn’t spawn off some direct to video sequel which is almost a prerequisite when producing a horror film. I’d have gladly sat in on another film utilizing the same demon and hopefully the decrepit Mrs. Ganush. No rules say that Raimi would have to be the director but as he has also gone into producing, I find it surprising he never overlooked a sequel with an apprentice director.
All we needed was the patented Bruce Campbell cameo which never happened. If I recall at the time there was a scheduling conflict and good old Bruce couldn’t fit it in. Even without Mr. Campbell I still love this one and most highly recommend it as a good example of the horror films of post 2000 that get it right.
Joining in the fun of selecting a more recent horror flick, Kristina has selected a point of view styled terror that found a home once The Blair Witch Project made a healthy fortune. Give it a go and see what exactly what has been filmed in New York.
Drag Me to Hell has been featured as part of the Why Horror? Why Not? celebrations.