The Evil Dead, a schlocky horror movie shot with a budget that wouldn't cover the catering costs of most sets, was not a good film in the traditional sense. But audiences cackled with glee at its buckets of blood, groan-worthy catchphrases and slapstick axe murders.
The musical stage adaptation, which Daisy's Madhouse is staging at the Idaho Outdoor Association Grange Hall through Saturday, Oct. 29, is true to that spirit in ways it may not have even intended. Even the location--an old building a stone's throw from the airport--feels appropriate, like you're traveling to an abandoned cabin in the woods to see a play set in one.
The top-notch script by writer George Reinblatt combines elements of the original film and its two sequels (Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness) into a razor-sharp comedy full of singing zombies and demons who heckle the hero, Ash, with bad puns as he chops them to pieces with a chainsaw. With a script that good, it barely matters who's delivering the lines.
But that's not to say the casting was limp. While there were no future Tony winners, they held their own. The bravado of Sean Small in the lead role of Ash was magnetic, especially when he cocked one eyebrow high, Spock-like, to deliver extra-corny lines.
Another standout was Carly Oppie in the role of Annie, the second-act zombie fodder. She brought a cartoonish vibrancy to the role, especially during her signature song, "All the Men in My Life," a Beauty School Dropout-esque number about having your prom date killed by Candarian demons.
When it came to the music, the performances weren't as consistent. Musical keys were a moving target, and some in smaller roles didn't excel at acting as they sang and danced.
But perhaps the best parts of the show were the attempts at special effects. Audience members were issued trash-bag ponchos as they entered to protect against the sprays of fake blood. Watching cast members pull water balloons full of fake blood from their pockets to squeeze until they burst was hilarious. It got on the ceiling more than the audience, but dang if it wasn't an earnest attempt.
And that is the beauty of a play like Evil Dead: The Musical. It doesn't need to be "good," because its entertainment value is almost enhanced by disaster. You won't leave Evil Dead: The Musical moved or inspired, but you will leave with a huge smile on your face.