You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a really good bad movie. And not the kind of good bad movie that was originally intended to be a serious, genuine film. Like, say, the movie Fear, starring Mark Wahlberg. But the kind of good bad movie that from step one, you know the director said to himself: “I’m gonna make a really kick ass bad movie!” For example, Drag Me To Hell, starring Alison Lohman.
I know, I know, everybody likes to get down on Sam Raimi for making Spiderman 3, but give the guy some credit. He did make Spiderman 2 after all. And Army of Darkness. And while we’re on the subject, Spiderman 3 really wasn’t that bad! Sure, it was campy and that whole dancing scene was kinda weird. But the special effects were awesome, the super-hero fights were kick ass, and that whole dancing scene was also kinda hilarious. Cut the guy a break.
Drag Me To Hell is a very different kind of movie than any of the Spidey flicks. It’s much more like it’s predecessors, the Evil Dead trilogy. Setting out to make a movie that tells you from the very beginning that it’s going to be scary. But every time it gets scary, you find yourself laughing instead of screaming. Not because the movie is bad, like any of the Saw series. No, this movie is carefully crafted to just be a tremendous amount of fun.
If I had been, say, twelve years old today and went to see this movie, my life would have changed. I would spend months raving about it to my friends. Buying a promo t-shirt online. Ravenously waiting outside of a video store the day before it came out on DVD. Fortunately, my obsession for film has taken on a much healthier, more productive turn.
Probably my favorite thing about the movie was the balance they struck between conservatism and just plain old gross. On the one hand, you have a film that isn’t particularly bloody. Sam is skillfully showing just the right amount of violence and gore to keep you from being offended/hang onto his PG-13 rating. But on the other, you have a creepy old lady puking maggots all over the star-hot chick’s face. (Not the only face-puking scene in the movie.) And when such a balance can take place, and be exposed with craft and attention, you have yourself art.
By using the term “art” (not a word I like to throw around a whole lot), I’m not saying this movie will change the face of modern cinema. Sam Raimi already did that back with the Evil Dead trilogy. Or even be hailed as one of the greatest films of all time. But it can’t be denied it was a labor of love. I’ll probably show my kids this movie, one of these days. When I have kids.
It’s not really fair to call a movie an “instant cult classic” if everyone agrees that it’s awesome. Because then it’s just a classic. No cult about it. And that’s a fact.