Going to see a play is usually a stuffy event where everyone is in their finery and on their best behavior, what you don’t expect upon entering a darkened theater is to hear Quiet Riot and Poison blasting from the sound system and see patrons donning foam chainsaw hands and seeing ushers outfitted in blood-resistant ponchos. Let me backtrack to how I got to this place.
The whole month of October is pretty much the greatest thing on the face of the planet. Can we all agree on that statement? You no longer get dirty looks for donning seasonably inappropriate boots and scarves. Nature gets real colorful and amazingly majestic (for about 2 weeks before it all becomes sad and depressive). Plus it’s Halloween, my favorite holiday, and it is a-ok to be dark and weird and into bad horror movies and dressing up. Thankfully, I have a boyfriend who shares my festive sensibility, and part of his allegiance to the season is by watching or listening or doing something Halloweeny for each of the 31 days in October. [Tangent: A lot of other people share this concept. Just fall down the hashtag wormhole of #31DaysOf Horror on twitter and Instagram.] To help support his self-imposed, no consequence quest, I got us tickets to see Evil Dead: The Musical at The Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville. [Tangent: That’s where the hair metal intros come in.]
Truth be told, I am a very casual fan of Evil Dead. Even though I love a scary movie, I had not really been introduced into this Sam Raimi world until I met Jamie a few years ago. Because it is one of his favorite films, and I made him sit through Love Actually and Amelie, of course I have filled that hole in my pop culture world by viewing Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 and watching the 2013 remake.
I must say, the films are fantastically terrible in the most glorious way, and now that I have seen them, I can see their fingerprints all over so many modern horror classics. [Tangent: Let’s face it Cabin in The Woods is basically a love letter to Raimi.] It’s now the go-to formula for a scare fest: a gaggle of horny teens sequestered in the middle of nowhere…and suddenly due to supernatural instigation start to turn on each other.
Evil Dead: The Musical, which has been playing since 2003 after originating in Canada, takes the cult classic movie and blends in kitschy tunes and interactive fun like the infamous red corn syrup soaked splatter zone. It’s like Rocky Horror Picture Show…if Rocky Horror had a demon-possessed sister hiding in the cellar.
Upon entering the theater, we were warned of the use of strobe light and chainsaws and blood and gore, so I knew this was decidedly NSFW, which was exciting! I chose to not familiarize myself with the music prior to the viewing; I wanted to be a blank slate, and that proved to be a wise decision. It allowed for the element of surprise and shock. The tempo of the songs was peppy and fun… akin to teen-friendly musicals like Grease and Bye Bye Birdie…only they had titles like “Death is a Bitch” “Ode to Accidental Stabbings” and “What the Fuck was That!?!?” The juxtaposition of light with dark was a nice way to show from the opening that you didn’t need to take what you were about to see too seriously.
Sure the show can skew cheesy at times: lots of booby jiggles and puns and dick jokes, but it was so unbelievably fun! Jamie and I left after an hour and a half dancing down the streets of Nashville as if we were inhabited by Candarian demons. If it comes to a city near you, I recommend a bloody trip to the theater.