Old School Horror
Trivia Special Features include:
- The Bloody Nose
- Inside the Psychic World
- Make-up Effects
- Justin Long Profile
- Alison in the Mud
- The Nightmare
- Alison’s Wirework
- The Parking Lot Fight
- The Goat
- Set Tour: The Great Room
- Puzzle Car
- Dragging Her to Hell
- Sound Design
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Drag Me to Hell (2009)
8th Oct 09
Toothless hag to unleash a gypsy curse. Raimi mayhem ensues.
Sam Raimi's return to his horror roots is so old-school it wouldn’t look out of place in EC comic book form, part of George Romero’s Creepshow, or as an old, undiscovered Twilight Zone episode. What Drag Me to Hell really is though, and perhaps the reason why fans of the man’s pre-Spiderman oeuvre are so buzzed, is Evil Dead part four, with lead Alison Lohman as a kind of miniature female Bruce Campbell, comically terrorised throughout the films brisk running time by a largely unseen demonic force.
Following the same trajectory as Raimi's epochal original trilogy, descending from wig-out lo-fi terror to goofball live-action horror cartoon, this is a crowd-pleaser of the highest magnitude. For the horror initiate it’s about as scary as Ghostbusters but it is a helluva lot of fun, and should tide over the Raimi faithful until he decides whether the return to horror is a dalliance with an old flame or something more substantial.
Lohman’s character couldn’t be timelier. Christine Brown is a young trainee loans adviser who desperately craves an available promotion, but is up against stiff competition from a ruthlessly ambitious co-worker. When approached by Mrs. Ganush – a scary looking old gypsy woman desperate for an extension to her mortgage loan, Alison spies an opportunity to show her mettle. Steely refusing to grant her financial respite despite the crunchy economic climate puts Alison in pole position for the promotion, only for the toothless hag to unleash a gypsy curse that will force her to endure three days of demonic torment before the inevitable trip to Hades. Unless the curse can be lifted before the demonic deadline…
Anyone who has been accosted to buy some ‘lucky heather’ only to be roundly harangued by a demented harridan on refusal will instantly recognise the terrifying Mrs. Ganush, although some may balk at the idea of using a gypsy as a central villain. The idea of a banker being terrorised should be more universally palatable, although the sweet Lohman is never anything less than totally sympathetic and hardily endures all manner of possession palaver. Smacked about by the unseen force, visited at the most inopportune moments by vengeful demons, including a hilarious dinner scene with her prospective beau (Jeepers Creepers’ Justin Long) and his family and enduring Campbell-like levels of physical assault, Lohman is a real sport and holds your attention throughout.
Raimi hasn’t lost his gag reflex either, with a couple of stomach churners involving Ganush and her gnashers (or missing ones), some swine-flu style mucus and a homemade cake with a surprise ingredient. With Raimi at the helm though, the gross-out moments are wildly cartoonlike in their execution, perfectly judged to be as comedic as they are grotesque.
Sam and Ivan Raimi’s script delivers nothing new, and most will see the (surprisingly mean-spirited) dénouement coming a mile off. There’s no subtext here, no metaphor, and despite the timely banker theme it’s scarcely a comment on the economic downturn (praise be). Drag Me to Hell is old-fashioned hokum plain and simple, unmistakably the work of a classic horror/ghost story fan as opposed to a shock tactician. In times like these, this is no bad thing, and the crowd I watched the film with lapped it up, an indication that mass audiences are hungry again for this kind of spooky silliness.
If Raimi is serious about turning his Ghost House Company into the contemporary house of horror, he has the perfect template here. Much more distinctive and entertaining than anything thus far produced under the banner, it shows that if you want your own house in order you have to do things yourself. At the very least Drag Me to Hell proves that when it comes to gags and gross-out, Sam is still the man.