It's an exciting time for fans of cult film franchise Evil Dead. This week sees both the Shout! Factory blu-ray release of Army of Darkness, in what has to be the definitive release of the film boasting four different cuts and an undead army of extras, as well as Halloween night ushering in the next chapter of the ongoing saga in the Starz miniseries Ash vs. The Evil Dead.
The magnitude of the Evil Dead fanbase is both esoteric enough to not realize the vastness, yet passionate enough to feel almost mainstream, which one could argue it is now that a 2013 remake was released worldwide by Sony, taking in close to 100 million dollars. But what's fascinating about how inspiring the devotion of its fans is, is how many times the films are eluded to or referenced that just seems to barely fly under most radars and create some deadite magic of its own. Especially in the world of music.
The scores of the first three Evil Dead films were all handled by Joseph LoDuca, with some contributions on the themes in the third film Army of Darkness, a movie that LoDuca refers to the score in the new release as a joy to work for the epic freedom working on a Medieval undead motion picture provides. But along with hauntingly galvanizing scores, something about films seems to strike a chord with musicians across genres.
One of the most famous and overt examples is the Foo Fighters' 1997 video for "Everlong." With the dream element allows for the University students getting surrealistically hyper-violent in a cabin nightmare motif being one of the most striking videos of its era and even racking up an MTV Video Music Award nomination. Directed by Michel Gondry, the pacing of the video mirrors that of the film and perhaps makes a case for why director Sam Raimi's original film was such an important piece for the MTV generation.
Meanwhile, over in hip-hop, you have plenty of rappers from Three-6 Mafia to MC Frontalot who've referenced it, with the most frequent being Wu-Tang Clan's Method Man. While he most famously quoted the second film's tag "dead by dawn" in "N 2 Getha Now," his monster 1999 hit collaboration with Limp Bizkit, Meth's affection for the series even worked its way into his underground freestyles. Case in point, off the "Wu-Headbanger" when he says "Hold, faces of death, bodies cold / on some Evil Dead part 2, swallow your soul."
The most specific of these hip-hop shoutouts has to be horror-obsessed rapper Cage on his "Leak Bros." track with Tame One. Opening his verse with "You mix the blood of Christ with Bruce Campbell /Puff the Evil Dead, once, twice /And got an Army of Darkness handle on my heater, so watch your back when I follow the leader" combines namedrops of the film's entire series and star, all while describing what it's like to smoke marijuana laced with PCP.
Of course, no discussion of the Evil Dead franchise' influence on music would be complete without mentioning Evil Dead: The Musical. Originating in Toronto in 2003, it spread throughout the world and even racked up an off-broadway run in 2006. Celebrated by fans of the franchise and the unfamiliar, its New York productions became famous for their party atmosphere, with shots being brought to audience members throughout the production.