Review: Hail to the Deadites (2020) – Fantasia
Steve Villeneuve’s Hail to the Deadites isn’t another documentary about the Evil Dead franchise. It’s a documentary about the franchise’s fans. Villeneuve began collecting Evil Dead memorabilia when the remake came out in 2013. After a couple of years, he began to wonder what the collections of some of the collections of long time fans and collectors would look like. Having already made a previous documentary, Under the Scares, he decided this would make a great topic for his next film.
One thing the publicity for Hail to the Deadites makes prominent mention of is that there are no clips from the films or the TV show.
”Some people might find it weird to not see any footage of the franchise in the documentary, but this is what I’ve been aiming for since day one. I’m really proud to say that everything you will see or hear in this documentary was created by the fans. So, rev your chainsaws and load your boomsticks, it’s time to give the DEADITES some sugar, baby!”Steve Villeneuve
Instead, there’s footage from some of the better Evil Dead fan films. And honestly, I found that a nice change from seeing the same clips we’ve all seen a million times before.
In terms of the fans we see in the film itself, there are a couple who are also in the film industry like Chris Alexander (Necropolis: Legion, Blood for Irina) and Bill Mosley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, The Church) who I learned had a small role in Army of Darkness. There are a few who run websites, like Elise Holmes of The Deadite Slayer and Heather Seebach of *Viewer Discretion Advised as well.
There are lots of interviews with fans at conventions who tell how and why the films mean so much to them. And with some of the cast members who talk about their connection to the fans. My favourite story from Hail to the Deadites involves both connections. We get to meet Kevin, who proposed to his girlfriend at a convention with the help of Evil Dead effects man Tom Sullivan. There are interviews with all three, as well as footage of Kevin and Robin’s wedding.
Hail to the Deadites makes its world premiere at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. Like another film screening there, Clapboard Jungle, it’s a nice twist on a common documentary topic. You can check the film’s website and Facebook page for more screenings.