AND NOW THE STREAMING STARTS Presents:
EVIL ED (1995)
Review by Jenny Orosel
“I’m just another chunk of meat lost in brainland.”
Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted some of the benefits of living in the United States. We have baseball, decent Mexican food, and unfettered access to the best in comedy/ slasher films. Not everyone is so lucky. As late as 1997, Sweden had a censorship board that severely limited the Swedes’ access to masterpieces such as EVIL DEAD (1982), RE-ANIMATOR (1985) and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986). Anders Jacobsson, an editor for the censorship board, spent years watching these movies unable to share them in all their uncut, disgusting glory. Out of frustration he created the greatest slasher (and perhaps only slasher) film to come out of Sweden: EVIL ED (1995).
EVIL ED opens with a shot of a man in a film editing room. He is obviously insane (and not just because he’s running around with no pants). He’s slashing and tearing at film strips and laughing maniacally while we hear the sound of a horror film playing in the background. His crazy reverie is broken when his boss, Sam Campbell (Olof Rhodin), comes in and chastizes him to get back to work. The pantsless man responds by putting a live grenade in his mouth. It blows up his face, sending fleshy shrapnel splattering the both the editing room and Mr. Campbell.
Mr. No Pants was working on what was going to be the studio’s biggest hit—a horror franchise called “Loose Limbs.” With the looming international release date coming, they need to get the eight films sliced enough to pass the censors—and fast!
Enter mild-mannered editor Edward Swenson (Johan Rudebeck). When we meet him, he is hard at work on an obvious riff on a Bergman-esque stereotype of Swedish art films: dull black-and-white, chatty, and sterile. Even the editing room where he works reflects the colorless films, and resembles a laboratory more than a post-production facility. His boss informs him that he’s going to be sent to the “Splatter and Gore” department. By contrast, there’s electronic music playing when he walks in and gratuitous scantily-clad women walking around a garishly decorated office. The executive in charge, the before-mentioned Sam Campbell, tells Ed to use his cabin in the woods to edit the film in privacy.
Spending endless hours surrounded by meaningless sex and violence starts getting to Ed. He begins to hallucinate. First his dinner turns into severed limbs. Then he hallucinates the characters from the movie coming to life, from the killer to the bikini clad victims. There’s even a CRITTERS (1986) rip-off in the refrigerator that cusses at him and calls him a Nazi. The most troubling hallucination of them all is the demon that instructs him to cleanse the world of the “impure.” That suggestion seems like a great idea, especially after he gets chastised by Mr. Campbell for cutting the scene were “a woman gets raped by a beaver then blow away with a bazooka.”
A problem is, there are a lot of impure people in the world. Mr. Campbell, Ed’s family, the delivery guy and his girlfriend. Eventually it all comes to a climax involving SWAT teams and mental hospitals that would be worthy of any great splatterpunk film.
Where EVIL ED stands apart from so many other horror-comedies is in its pure, unadulterated love for the genre. Jacobsson, after sitting through as many movies as he has, knows his stuff and really likes it. There are references in almost every frame, between the posters for some of the most beloved cult flicks lining the offices and Mr. Campbell’s house (even his name, Sam Campbell, is an obvious nod to the EVIL DEAD team), to the casting of horror favorite Bill Moseley for voice work. There are nods to the films of Clive Barker, to the RE-ANIMATOR series, GREMLINS (1984)…more than I could list in this column. In fact, I would say this movie deserves a whole separate viewing just to watch for (and laugh with) all the references.
The performances are somewhat stiff and amateurish. This might be on purpose to spoof the often non-professional actors used in the no-budget slasher flicks being satirized. Occasionally it does get distracting, but more often than not it’s entertaining, because if you’re the target audience for a movie like this, you’ve sat through worse performances before and aren’t looking to this for stark realism.
The argument could be made that Jacobsson was using EVIL ED to argue in favor of Sweden’s protecting its people from the effects of excessive violence. With just how firmly the tongue is planted in cheek, however, I’d argue the opposite—he’s making fun of the job he once held. Whatever the end result, EVIL ED truly is a fun and weirdly affectionate love letter to trashy splatter films, and a must for anyone who has ever enjoyed them.
WHERE TO FIND THE MOVIE: Arrow Video has recently released a super-special edition complete with a ton of bonus features. It is also available for streaming free with Amazon Prime.
© Copyright 2017 by Jenny Orosel