Still six years old and I’m already hooked on The Evil Dead and yearn for more! The date was March 13, 1987, and Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn was just released in US cinemas. It was a significant day, not only because Evil Dead II was out, but because it was a Friday! How cool would it have been to say that I saw the Evil Dead sequel on Friday the 13th? All of my 6-year-old friends would be jealous! Well, not really – I didn’t have a lot of friends who were horror fans.
I begged and begged my father to take me to see it. He scoffed at the idea of wasting his hard-earned money on a low budget cheesy movie in the theaters. Still, I begged on until he finally caved in. Nothing like giving an annoying, bratty child what he wants just to shut him up. So there I was, Friday (the 13th!) night amped up and ready to go. I don’t remember what time it was, but I do remember that it was dark out. My nerves were tingling, a combination of both excitement and fear. Contrary to popular belief, scary movies did scare me as a child, although my close friends and family would probably find that hard to believe. My cousin was over that night who’s a couple of years my senior, which made him about 10 or 11 years old at that time. My dad grabbed his jacket, and I heard the sound of a set of keys scraping against the surface of a wooden table-top and jingle as they made their way into his coat jacket. Yes, here we go! We all grabbed our coats and headed for the front door to meet my father there. There was a smile on my face that would put The Joker to shame. My eyes were wide-eyed, and either shouted, “Let’s go already!” or I looked like a crazed, cocaine-induced six-year-old!
I quickly walked to the front door as I heard the locks being turned and opened. Everything moved in slow motion. My cousin and older brother were close behind, but I made sure to lead the pack so that I can call “shotgun” and have that front seat beside my father. I wasn’t the oldest, but, so what! The door flew open, and we were ready to go. My dad turned around and looked at us, then, his face changed. It was a puzzled look. He looked me and asked, “Where are you going?” It was at that moment that I realized that I wasn’t going to see the Evil Dead II that night. Oh, how I was very disappointed! Then, I remembered, “Booger.” And so, I did like any average six year old would do, I cried and banged my head against the wall until all of my frustration was out of my system, and the wall bore a hollow hole. I figured, why not, it worked for “booger.” Needless to say, it didn’t work.
So, I didn’t get to watch it on a Friday the 13th as I had hoped for. Instead, my dad took me the following morning to the Coliseum Cinema on 181st Street in the Washington Heights of NY. So I had to settle for the next best thing and watched it on Saturday the 14th. Still, I was now moments away from watching the Evil Dead II!
It was a bright, sunny morning but the cold that accompanied could have fooled anyone. It was, after all, March in New York. The old, unwelcoming theater beckoned and spoke to me. It said, “Get your ass in here already!” It was an old theater that dated back to the 1920’s and, once inside, it showed – and smelled. At the time, there was little decor that adorned the main lobby, and it was, well, bare and decrepit. Because of this bareness, it lent for an eerie, creepy atmosphere that was reminiscent of an old, haunted opera house. At that time of day, it was eerily quiet in the movie theater which only made the small hairs on the back of my neck rise and had me peeking around every corner on our short trek into the theater.
Inside the screening room, although deteriorating, the place was a marvel to look at with its ornate architectural designs. What once was a stage show with orchestra seating, the screening room was divided into two for the purposes of making it into a theater room; this was evident by looking up at the ceiling where one can see the old remnants of a dome on the ceiling. Either way, at six years old, the place scared the crap out of me.
The lights dimmed, and before I knew it, we were sitting in darkness, and the projector came to life. Evil Dead II was here! Unfortunately, I was a “wuss in disguise” in those days, meaning, I was scared but hid it well, or so I thought. I would do things such as look to the rear of the theater and look at the lights of the projector, asking my dad what it was because I just knew when something scary was about to happen. My father was no fool and caught on to my “tactics.” Of course, he would boast about how scared I was because I always proclaimed my love for horror movies.
Oh, how this installment of the Evil Dead confused the shit out of me! Again, after everything he went through, there was the question of why the hell would Ash go back to the cabin?! It just didn’t make sense. Then, I thought, maybe it is a remake of the original film with a bigger budget. If it was, they sure as hell changed the shit out of it. And what’s more, despite my chicken-shit demeanor with a couple of scenes, I found myself chuckling at others. Hmm, a decapitated, deadite Linda ballet dancing in the woods in Ray Harryhausen–esque fashion a la Jason and the Argonauts. A possessed hand that is hell-bent on kicking its former occupant’s ass? What is there not to laugh at? It all just seemed, “groovy”! With the help of my father, he explained to me that it was a horror/comedy. What?! Comedy? This is not the Evil Dead! This notion of horror-comedy was at a time before I could truly appreciate the films for what they were, very much so in the same fashion as Drag me to Hell.
Despite my admittedly being scared in some parts, there were more than a few moments that made me laugh. Ok, I didn’t understand why, but OK! I still loved the movie!
I was a walking, talking oxymoron. But, I got say I saw Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn in a movie theater! Did I just give testament to how old I am? Hmm, not sure if that’s something to boast about! Still, to this day, my father makes fun of me whenever we talk or reminisce, and I still bitch about how he didn’t take me to see it on opening night. In the end, we both had the last laugh. Him, because he witnessed the wuss in me and, me because I got him to take me to the movies to see the film. I think I was the clear winner in this case!