‘Evil Dead, The Musical’ is developing a cult following Spectacular s p l a t t e r

Thursday, October 26, 2017

By GUY D’ASTOLFO

dastolfo@vindy.com

Halloween is one of the slots in the season that theaters can’t ignore, and the options are more numerous and varied than Christmas.

Among the offerings comes “Evil Dead, The Musical,” the adults-only zombie-movie spoof that is known for its splatter zone. If fits squarely in the ultra-campy musical comedy category with the likes of “Rocky Horror Show” – which it might even overtake in popularity some day.

While “Evil Dead” doesn’t promote audience interaction like “Rocky Horror,” those sitting closest to the stage can expect to get splashed with stage blood.

Salem Community Theatre’s production of “Evil Dead” opens Friday and runs for two weekends, with the seats closest to the stage doubling as the splatter zone. It has strong language, and only adults will be admitted.

So, do people actually want to get splashed with biohazardous zombie fluids while watching the show? For at least some of them, the answer is definitely yes.

Those who want to sit in the splatter zone must request it when purchasing tickets.

“What we found is that people will travel to see this show,” said director Dan Haueter. “They come prepared to get soaked in blood.”

“Evil Dead the Musical” premiered in 2008 in Toronto and has quickly become a cult classic.

It takes a musical-comedy approach to the Sam Raimi-directed horror movie trilogy: “Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead 2” and “Army of Darkness.” These movies made Bruce Campbell – the actor who played Ash, the chainsaw-arm lead character – a household name among horror movie fans.

Matt Schomer plays Ash in Salem’s production, and Haueter couldn’t be more pleased.

“I don’t know if anybody else could be better,” said Haueter. “[Schomer] is by far the most perfect Ash you could find. He embodies Bruce Campbell to a T, and he puts a lot of his own stuff into it.”

The cast also includes Tara Holl as Cheryl, Ash’s lonely sister who is the first to get attacked. Lexi Denney plays Linda, Ash’s girlfriend from the S-Mart department store. Carly Ellis plays the ditzy blond Shelly. Billy Page, Nick Berger, John Price, Tim Gotschling and Hannah Nash round out the cast.

“Evil Dead, The Musical” follows five college students who take a trip to an abandoned cabin in the woods, where they find a Necronomicon, or book of the dead. Of course, they read the passages, which causes evil spirits to be released.

Unlike the Raimi movies that were campy, gory and scary, “Evil Dead, The Musical” is campy, gory and funny.

Haueter said he was hooked on the show from the start. “When I first read the script, I was like, ‘This is hilarious,’” he said. “A lot of those early ’80s slasher flicks were funny without intending to be. They were so campy that they were funny, but this one is by choice. It is over-the-top campy from start to finish, and well-written. It incorporates that ’80s horror movie nostalgia, and it’s a real treat to watch.”