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LABEL: Time Life
Who’d have thought that "geek musical" would
become a subgenre on Broadway? The unusual success of Spamalot caused, if
nothing else, a mayfly Internet meme about unlikely properties being adapted
for musical theater. Usually, the related jokes ended with something along the
lines of "Whoa, Dr. Zaius!"
You probably remember lurking in the eaves of the Internet a
few years back when it was announced that some enterprising individuals were
assembling a musical based on Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead film. Maybe you weren’t
lurking, but right in the thick of it, crying your bemusement like a baby
elephant separated from its herd. Nobody was afraid that Raimi’s cult classic
would be ruined by the adaptation, but rather that the creators would embarrass
themselves with the combination of two palatable tastes that do not taste great together. Kinda like peanut
butter and banana. It’s gross, people.
I haven’t seen the show, so any criticisms I might level at
its success or failure can only be based on the sketchy plot conveyed by the
songs and brief dialogue sequences included on this soundtrack. With that in
mind, it’s worth noting that Evil Dead: The Musical has a
completely different understanding and application of the word "camp"
than did its inspiration. Where Raimi and company indulged in the trappings of
exploitation to make their film, the producers of The Musical dive into the
irony of overstatement, the kind of broad comedy that seems to serve my
generation well. Neither are subtle in their humor or horror, but their methods
of being obvious diverge noticeably. In the musical’s case, there’s a point at
which winking at the audience ceases to be sly.
It’s plain that The Musical was designed for fans of
the film, not as an introduction either to the world of The Evil Dead or of
musical theater. Without something of a history of enjoyment of both (this is
an "and" gate, not an "or" gate) the audience isn’t likely
to get much more than a chuckle out of this soundtrack. This isn’t a criticism
that will hold much weight, but it’s almost as if the show’s creators kept
their audience too much in mind
during production. With a focus tightened down on a small cross-section of
horror/theater fans, their campy attitude alienates most everyone else.
Since you’re reading CHUD, you may well be part of that cross-section,
anyway, and can safely ignore the above paragraph. (Too late.) For those
audience members who do possess all the qualities of the perfect crowd, there’s
no shortage of fun to be hand with this disc. The songs possess the harmless,
insistent melodies of popular theater, and the familiar plot is punctuated
nicely by their inclusions. My favorite is a duet by Ash and his pal Scott,
shortly after things start to go amiss, titled "What The Fuck Was
The sections created wholly for the show fire less solidly
on their cylinders, making the two-act CD stretch longer than a concentrated
listen would like. With all the gore, plus the more physical contributions of
god-man Hinton Battle (remember him as the dancing demon in Buffy‘s
"Once More With Feeling" episode?) I’m sure the show would captivate,
but the CD doesn’t function well as a substitute. That’s just speculation on my
With a sound that is decidedly not sterile, a wealth of largely memorable tunes, and a cast that
seems to understand and revel in the absurdity of their characters, this
soundtrack has a good chance of contributing some fun times to the target
audience. It’s safe to assume the intention of the show-runners was to provide
exactly that. The only downside is that compressing a stage show into a purely
auditory medium means the disc is probably meant more as a touchstone to your
hypothetical fond memories of watching the show. If you don’t live anywhere
near off-Broadway, though, this disc might be your only hope of hearing the phrase "testicle fondue" sung in
a warbling alto.