Review: Evil Ed (1995)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #789

Number of Views: One
Release Date: November 11, 1995
Sub-Genre: Splatter/Satire
Country of Origin: Sweden
Budget: SEK 250,000
Running Time: 93 minutes
Director: Anders Jacobsson
Producer: Göran Lundström
Screenplay: Anders Jacobsson, Göran Lundström, Christer Ohlsson
Special Effects: Göran Lundström
Cinematography: Anders Jacobsson
Score: Henriksson & Lindh
Editing: Anders Jacobsson
Studios: Evil Ed Productions, Smart Egg Pictures
Distributors: A-Pix Entertainment, Arrow Video (Blu-Ray)
Stars: Johan Rudebeck, Per Löfberg, Olof Rhodin, Camela Leierth, Gert Fylking, Cecilia Ljung, Dan Malmer, Kim Sulocki, Göran Lundström, Robert Dröse, Bill Moseley, Anders Jacobsson, Kaj Steveman, Vasa

Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫

[1] Judas Priest “Blood Red Skies”

[2] The Delta Rhythm Boys “Dry Bones”

[3] Culture Club “Church of the Poisoned Mind”

[4] Run DMC “Run’s House”

[5] Mango Kings “Doughnut Lady”

Should we watch too many gory movies, then are we more likely to go out and murder in real life? Of all the questions that have been raised about horror over the years, it is perhaps this one that has been the most recurring. Back in the eighties, when censorship debate was raging fiercely, the general consensus would likely have been a resounding yes. However, when you consider this was also the decade that brought us shoulder pads, crop tops and supersized bouffant hair, it’s clear that nobody had the faintest clue how to differentiate right from wrong. In case we were perched on the fence, the wretched media did their level best to “persuade” us towards the path of righteousness. In the United Kingdom alone, 72 films in particular were named, shamed and promptly branded as video nasties, 39 of which were successfully prosecuted. Being caught in possession of any one of these immoral pieces of filth was a federal offence and likely to earn you a hefty fine or, in certain extreme cases, jail time.

Amusingly, many of the films banished to the BBFC’s naughty step can now be watched on YouTube fully uncut and it just highlights how utterly clueless the censorship board actually were. It also shows how much public opinion has changed over the past three decades and how desensitized we’ve become to on-screen violence. Is the world a more violent place now as a result? Yes it probably is. But that no doubt has something to do with the fact that there’s well over two billion more minds to corrupt now and don’t believe, for a second, that horror movies are responsible for warping them. Granted, if your mental hinges are slackening, then it may not be advisable to pass the time with Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, whilst stroking an ax. But it would be unfair to blame Romano Scavolini’s film for creating a monster when clearly the harm has already been done some time ago.

Let’s do the math shall we? I’ve watched The Evil Dead a dozen or so times but have never lopped off my girlfriend’s head with a shovel. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has clocked up around the same number of viewings but I have a grand total of zero teenagers stashed away in my refrigerator. My time with Anthropophagus: The Beast hasn’t resulted in any cravings to chow down on my own intestines. Island of Death may have demonstrated how easy it is to get away with murder in Mykonos, but I’ve never been overwhelmed with desire to visit any Greek islands. And while I prefer my steaks on the bloody side, that has nothing whatsoever to do with my experience with Cannibal Holocaust. Don’t even get me started on Gestapo’s Last Orgy as I draw the line some way before sodomizing innocent farmyard animals, at least until they’re proven guilty.

What I’m saying, in essence, is that I watched a whole shit ton of such inappropriate material as a kid and still turned out alright. Ignore the mild facial twitch as that’s just a muscular spasm brought on by excessive caffeine intake. The fact is that I’m as harmless as the cute little kitten I just skinned alive with a potato peeler and wouldn’t dream of acting out on account of my flirtation with horror. Does that mean I’ll be arranging a personal screening of I Spit on Your Grave for my seven-year-old boy in the foreseeable? Of course not, I’d rather he held onto his innocence for a few years longer, thank you very much. But if he happened across it of his own accord, that doesn’t mean I’d cancel father-son bath time. Like the promotional art for The Last House on the Left clearly stated – It’s only a movie. Only a movie. Only a movie. As long as I keep reminding myself of that fact, everything should turn out just dandy.

We Brits tend to think ourselves hard done by with regards to censorship, when the truth is, laws were just as stringent in other European countries. Take Germany for example, Andreas Schnaas was so embittered by his countrymen’s iron-fisted approach to censorship that he retaliated by making a movie titled Violent Shit and, needless to say, it weren’t no rom-com. Another nation in moral panic was Sweden and the film we’re here to discuss takes a satirical swipe at the film industry in his native land and their stance on supposedly obscene material. Ironically, Anders Jacobsson’s Evil Ed crashed the party a year before their strict laws were abolished, leaving him barely twelve months to put some noses out of joint. I often wonder what the Swedish board of classification made of this one.

Over twenty years down the line, Evil Ed remains one of the best kept secrets in splatter cinema and, only now, are the tides of change rolling in. Arrow Video have gotten their gloriously greasy paws on this forgotten gem and lavished it with the care and attention it has warranted but never before received. Better yet, they’ve even seen fit to splice in entire scenes that never made the original cut and that seems fitting for a movie that primarily takes place in a home editing suite.

Maybe now, Jacobsson’s schlock-filled delight can find its true audience although, for all its gross-out gore and inky black comedy, it never quite hits the giddy heights of the trio of undisputed classics that evidently inspired it. That said, lumping it together with the likes of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator and Peter Jackson’s Braindead would be akin to booking Milli Vanilli to play a set at The Royal Opera House, and besides, Evil Ed has too much of its own thing going on to be so readily discarded as mere carbon copy. Indeed, its tough to recall another film quite like it in existence and that should be all the encouragement to need to step straight into its splash zone.

Meek film editor Edward (Johan Rudebeck) hasn’t so much stepped into the splash zone as been shoved into the crimson swim, minus armbands. Of course, if you asked the head honcho at the distribution company who pay his wages, Samuel Campbell (Olof Rhodin), for his take then he’d be quick to point out that he’s been kind enough to offer Edward a promotion for his tireless dedication to his craft.

In fact, this step up the ladder only came about because Ed’s predecessor gobbled a grenade out of sheer exasperation, and is not so much offered as insisted. Poor Ed will be required to drop whatever art house claptrap he’s currently cutting and pasting and relocate to the splatter and gore department, effective immediately.

Just down the hallway, second on the left right? Negative, Ed’s base of shady operations isn’t a mere short walk from the canteen and neither is it even on site. A less than welcoming remote manor will be his home away from home for the foreseeable; at least until his current task has been completed. It will be Ed’s job to jumble through the latest entry in their most treasured franchise, Loose Limbs, and trim it down to size as it has just managed to secure international distribution. Given that it’s essentially a balls to the wall schlockfest, anything likely to be deemed too offensive will need to be excised and tossed onto the cutting room floor mercilessly. Sounds like a cushy gig, don’t you think?

Slightly off-topic but have you ever wondered why you don’t spot many film editors at movie premieres? I believe there’s a reason for this. You see, while most of the cast and crew cannot wait to see what has become of their best efforts, the poor sap on fat-trimming duties is likely sick to the tonsil tail of every last frame of film by this point.

Repetition appears to be the running theme and I’d imagine this eventually takes its toll. Just as slaving over a hot stove for three hours preparing a meal that no doubt won’t be appreciated anyway wreaks havoc with the chef’s own appetite; editors are generally done with the project the very moment they hand over those spools.

With Ed’s belly being yellow and stomach for extremities almost non-existent, the prospect of spending day after day sorting through Loose Limbs has a similar effect on his bowel. Perhaps that would explain why he has been moved to an undisclosed location and extra rolls of toilet paper have been provided. The thing is, while ordinarily submissive to the bones,

Ed is beginning to come around to the idea of being the master of his very own domain. From mild-mannered through no mannered to downright spannered, he continues his gradual descent into madness. If that sounds like something of a raw deal for Eddie, then I’d like to remind you that he’s currently as happy as a pig in a pork factory. It’s the visitors I feel bad for.

One such drop-in is Nick (Per Löfberg), the hapless Herbert whose pitiful plight it is to both deliver and retrieve these reels of the damned. Ed may look like the kind of bespectacled clod who wouldn’t even send a goose a boo on Messenger but, in the brokedown palace he now calls “hem”, he’s the only man permitted a plan and damn right it’s dastardly.

While watching Nick squirm in his sorry shell is mildly diverting in brief spurts, it’s not hands-on enough for such a master craftsman and he craves a more significant challenge. House guests are a bare minimum and that leaves only one phone call left to make. If it’s provocation he’s yearning for, then may I remind you that hell hath no fury like…the wife!

Firstly, I’m not entirely sure who’s the ball and who’s the chain in this relationship as Barbara (Cecilia Ljung) is evidently married to the Swedish Eraserhead as some sort of dare or favor. Far be it from me to judge two books by their covers but, when one is The Whistler by John Grisham and the other P is for Potty starring Elmo, it’s fair to say one of these books is not like the other.

At any rate, Barbara loves Ed. their daughter loves Daddy, and there are two good reasons for Barbara to make that crunch time house call. Naturally, Ed has a warm welcome planned for his wife’s arrival, but only until her stone cold corpse drops below room temperature. Run Barbara run. See Barbara run. Not wishing to put any more willies up you love, but they are coming to get you, Barbara. Just so we’re clear.

Evil Ed is many, many things and peculiar is certainly one of them. Jacobsson and his co-writers, Göran Lundström and Christer Ohlsson, have prepared quite the plate of spicy Swedish meatballs for our culinary delight and their 93 minute guided tour through Ed’s intimate head space is far preferable to spending the equivalent time attempting to navigate the Ancient Maze of IKEA.

Venturing from biting satire into out-and-out slapstick with increasing frequency, it mines just as much of its humor from the darkest of ore and nails this balancing act pretty successfully for the most part. Jacobsson also doubles up on cinematography duties and his lopsided framing lends the impression of being aboard a sinking vessel, reflecting Ed’s skewed mindset exquisitely. 250,000 Swedish Krona equates to less than bar nuts, but he could never be accused of frittering his pocket change like a chump.

For as much as Evil Ed is frivolous with its freakishness, it’s also savvy with its sociological surveillance. Censorship in the movies may no longer be quite the hot topic it was back in 1995, but it is still everywhere we look and every bit as pertinent two decades on. Come to think of it, there’s never been a better time or excuse to give Johansson’s “splatstick” also-ran a jog out. Just remember to steer well clear of Ed’s place as I can hear him in there, stirring that crazy. On second thoughts, see if you can sneak in undetected and nab me a copy of Loose Limbs 5: The Anatomy of Fear will you? I do hope it’s not cut to pieces.

Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10

Grue Factor: 4/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Let me tell you something about Ed – he’s evil. Evil, I tell you. A smorgasbord of limbs are loosened, flayed and sprayed, while the first cut is seldom the deepest. SFX pimp Göran Lundström performs wonders with his share of the bar nuts and evidently doesn’t know the faintest thing about damage limitation. We’re not talking Braindead levels of carnage but halfway there is still a glass half full right? Should it be titillation that you seek this night, then may want to be careful what you wish for. Imagine this face waking you up at the crack of dawn, after a hard night on the Butane and shudder like I did.

Read Braindead (1992) Appraisal
Read The Evil Dead (1981) Appraisal
Read Re-Animator Appraisal
Read Berberian Sound Studio Appraisal

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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