One can tell when a horror film is made by fans of the genre; there is a certain love for the material that comes through. Of course, this is even easier to tell when the filmmakers fill their movie with homages to their favorites. Such is the case with Evil Ed (1995), a goofy and goopy low-budget Swedish horror comedy that wears its love for 1980s horror on its sleeve. A mild mannered film editor is tasked with cutting all of the gratuitous sex and violence from a series of horror films so they can be released in Europe. This causes him to have a psychotic break and go on a killing spree. The references to 1980s horror and fantasy classics come fast and furious, some more overtly than others. The humor ranges from satire of the Swedish censor board to slapstick violence inspired by the early films of Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi. Much like the movies the filmmakers admire, Evil Ed does not skimp on the gore, with copious amounts of blood and severed limbs filling the screen.
Edward “Eddie” Tor Swenson (Johan Rudebeck) is a mild-mannered editor in the film restoration lab of a major studio. One day, he is told to report to his new assignment in the “blood and guts” department headed by the sleazy Sam Campbell (Olof Rhodin). The company is getting ready for the European release of all of its Loose Limbs series of slasher films, and they need Eddie to cut out all of the explicit gore and nudity. As everybody knows, watching too many horror movies is bad for one’s mental health. (At least, that is what some people think.) As such, Eddie slowly loses his grip on reality. It starts with simple hallucinations, such as severed limbs on his desk or a gremlin-like monster in his refrigerator, but they progress to more dangerous visions. Eventually, Eddie suffers a full break with reality, going on a murderous rampage. Can Evil Ed be stopped before he harms those closest to him?
Writer/director Anders Jacobsson and his co-writers, GÃ¶ran LundstrÃ¶m and Christer Ohlsson, are very clearly fans of 1980s horror. Just the title alone, Evil Ed, manages to reference both The Evil Dead (1981) as well Stephen Geoffreys’ character from Fright Night (1985). Eddie’s obnoxious boss, Sam Campbell, takes his name from Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. The other references in the film are just as lacking in subtlety. In fact, the filmmakers often telegraph their influences with film posters covering the walls. Right after the camera pans past a poster for Critters (1986), Eddie opens his refrigerator to find a puppet monster clearly inspired by the Crites of Critters as well as Gremlins (1984). Other monsters that resemble Tim Curry’s Darkness from Legend (1985) and the Deadites from The Evil Dead also make appearances. It would be easy for a film to slip into a simple “reference fest” – “Hey, I recognize that. Oh, look at that movie reference!” – but Evil Ed manages to avoid that trap. The allusions to other films are, for the most part, integrated into the story nicely. The filmmakers do not mirror the plot points of the films they love; they simply use them for inspiration.
Evil Ed takes its much of its sense of humor from the sillier/funnier aspects of the early films of Peter Jackson (Bad Taste (1987), Dead Alive (1992)) and Sam Raimi (Evil Dead II (1987), Army of Darkness (1992)). Much of the violence is of the slapstick variety, albeit the bloody, gory slapstick showcased in Jackson’s and Raimi’s films. Limbs fly and heads explode, and vice versa. Goofy, obvious wordplay abounds. Eddie’s predecessor blows his own head off with a grenade, to which his boss, Sam Campbell reacts by yelling “You’re fired!” A shotgun blast is preceded by the exclamation “Rest in Pieces!” Much like the movie references, most of the humor in Evil Ed is far from subtle, but that is fine and works within the film. Even the premise of the movie is satirical on a meta level. The idea that Eddie has to cut all of the “good parts” from the horror films for European distribution is a direct dig at the Swedish Statens biografbyrÃ¥ (film board) and its very strict censorship standards at the time.
Blood, goop, and gore fly in Evil Ed – both on Eddie’s moviola and around his house. Though the term “shoestring” would be generous in describing the film’s budget, what money there is clearly is put towards the practical gore effects. Severed heads can look cheesy even in big budget pictures, but the ones in Evil Ed are surprisingly lifelike. The gremlin-esque creature that Eddie finds in his fridge is well articulated and would fit alongside its more well-known cinematic cousins. The makeup on the Legend and Evil Dead inspired monsters is equally impressive. Gorehounds will be pleased with the quantity and quality of the grue in Evil Ed. It is indeed impressive how much the filmmakers are able to accomplish with no real budget to speak of.
Evil Ed is not really a good film, but it is a fun, enjoyable, goopy, goofy love letter to 1980s horror. The filmmakers are not shy about referencing their favorite horror movies, but at least they avoid aping the other films, simply using them for inspiration. While not subtle in the least, the silly, slapstick humor perfectly captures the chaotic goofiness of early Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi. Like those earlier movies, blood and severed body parts are in a glorious abundance in Evil Ed. Made by filmmakers who clearly love gory horror comedies, Evil Ed is a fun, low-budget, grue-soaked romp worth checking out.
Evil Ed (1995) (3.5 / 5)