I remember the first time I saw The Evil Dead. I was an undergraduate, and it was loaned to me on a 3rd or 4th generation VHS copy, so it was fuzzy as hell and fitted with one of those wobbly soundtracks that you only get on movies that have been duped on home machines and passed from grubby hand to grubby hand. Younger readers might be surprised to hear of “the old days”, when plenty of films were not available for download or freely available on shiny DVDs, which lose none of their detail from one copy to the next. The Evil Dead was still fairly notorious, since it featured prominently on the BBFC‘s list of “video nasties”, films targeted by moral commentators in the UK media, resulting in the Video Recordings Act of 1984, which attempted to regulate the content of VHS tapes. It led to the withdrawal of many titles from the shelves of rental stores, and Sam Raimi’s directorial debut survived only on illicit copies salvaged from the purge. In those days (typing those words makes me feel so old), you couldn’t just go online and order a copy from abroad. In restrospect, I’m quite nostalgic for my old taped copy – I made my own (5th generation?), and I still have it somewhere in my office, complete with homemade sleeve. But today I’m working from a DVD version, which was finally released uncut in the UK in 2001.
I feel obliged to review [REC]2, if only because I gave its predecessor a day in court a couple of years ago. You might remember the story so far – a cameraman and a reporter are following the fire brigade on their nightly duties for a local TV documentary. The crew are sent to investigate what turns out to be the outbreak of a virus in an apartment block. Lots of quasi-zombie, flesh-chewing mayhem ensues as the authorities quarantine all the survivors, blocking all the exits and trapping them inside. Taking refuge in the top-floor flat, the camera team discover the true origins of the disease that is taking over the building.This time around, a SWAT time is infiltrating the building to locate and destroy the ongoing threat, and they quickly fall foul of the undead tenants ,who are still a bit angry.