WADESBORO — Filmmakers will be in Anson County early next month looking for anyone who worked on the 1987 cult classic “Evil Dead II.”
Interviews that make the final cut will be included in “Evil Dead Uproot,” a documentary focusing on the small towns where the first two feature films in the “Evil Dead” series — written and directed by Sam Raimi and starring actor Bruce Campbell — were shot.
The series includes the original 1981 “Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness,” as well as the 2013 remake of “Evil Dead” and the Starz television series “Ash vs. the Evil Dead.”
Producer Dan Sellers, of Wreak Havoc Productions, is an Anson County native — currently living in Greensboro — who first became interested in the series as a teenager.
“I grew up being a big fan of horror and, naturally, wanted to see the classic horror film made in Anson County,” he told the Record in an email. “So I went down to JB Video one weekend and rented all three movies and watched them back to back. I fell in love and became enthralled by the series.”
Director/Producer Matthew Powell, of Luminous Midnight, first saw “Evil Dead II” when he was 14 — and has been a fan ever since.
“My friends and I would go to the local movie store and rent the five movies for five dollars,” he recalled. “We always rented the worst looking horror movies based on the covers. We saw the VHS for ‘Army of Darkness’ multiple times, but based on the cover, we always thought it looked intentionally dumb, so we skipped it.
“One of those nights we rented ‘Evil Dead II’. I remember watching it and after it was over I immediately rewound the tape and watched it again,” Powell added. “It was like nothing I had ever seen. Then I connected the dots and realized ‘Army of Darkness’ was the sequel and finally found a copy of ‘Evil Dead’ to watch. I’m 33 now and I still love all these movies. They shaped the way I look at camera movement and entertainment.”
The movie was shot in 1986 in Lilesville and at the old J.R. Faison High School.
Sellers and Powell will conduct interviews Sept. 8 and 9 at the Ansonia Theater in Wadesboro and invite anyone who has memories of the movie to stop by.
“We’re looking to meet with and interview folks from Anson County who may have any stories from the production of “Evil Dead II,” whether it be any stories from the set, or just simple interactions with the cast or crew” Sellers said. “We’re talking with folks who lived next to Bruce Campbell during the shoot to people who spent time with Campbell and Sam Raimi to people who went to see it at the Ansonia Theatre.”
According to Sellers, the idea for the documentary developed after Powell got to know Mike Pasquale, who recently retrieved and restored the shed used in the film from Lilesville. Powell had originally intended to just make a short documentary about the restoration project.
“Since then, this project has ballooned into a feature-length documentary film and has expanded in scope dramatically,” he said.
“When I found out that Mike Pasquale recovered the cabin and work shed from ‘Evil Dead II’ from it’s location in North Carolina, I just sent him an email asking if we could come to Pittsburgh and film him talking about what he went through and his plans,” Powell said. “When we returned from his house back to ours in Nashville, I started thinking that his taking the cabin was the end of the story for that particular filming location. That got me to wondering what came before, how many times have the property owners been bothered and even how the town felt about this movie being filmed there.”
Powell said he then decided to tell the stories that hadn’t been heard before — those of the locals involved with the movies.
“I also wanted to talk to the property owners and hear their sides of the stories,” he continued. “In our research we’ve uncovered a bunch of unknown things and I’m really excited to share them in our film.”
Production recently wrapped in Morristown, Tennessee, the location of the first “Evil Dead,” and Powell also got to interview Campbell this past Sunday.
“Interviewing Bruce was pretty much a dream come true for me,” he said. “I’ve met him as a fan on both of his book tours, but getting to put him on film and sit down and have a chat with him was almost surreal.
“I was nervous that he might be kind of snarky, because who am I really?,” Powell continued. “He was very polite and very open and honest with me. He was also very professional and treated our shoot like he would any other. I honestly couldn’t be happier with how it went.”
According to the “Evil Dead Uproot” Facebook page, producers have also lined up effects master Tom Sullivan and actress Betsy Baker.
Although Sellers didn’t attend film school, he has several projects under his belt and currently in production.
“My first feature film, “Hank vs. The Undead,” is a horror-comedy and was made between Greensboro and Anson County,” he said. “We actually were even lucky enough to have filmed a scene at the ‘Evil Dead II’ cabin in Lilesville.”
Powell starting making “silly little short films” with friends after graduating high school.
“We did these dumb shorts but many people kind of pointed out that while we didn’t use the best equipment, our shots were pretty creative,” he said. “From there I went to Nashville State for film and started producing music videos and filming weddings. I’ve gone on from there to win multiple awards here in Nashville for some of my short films. This will be my first full-length movie.”
According to Sellers, the shooting locations for the “Evil Dead” films “are like hallowed ground for many horror fans.
“We really would like to hear from more Ansonians before we start shooting so we can make this film the definitive documentary about the locations of the ‘Evil Dead’ series,” he said.
Anyone wanting to be a part of the documentary is encouraged to contact Sellers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-686-0310. For more information on the documentary, visit the Facebook page or the film’s page at lumimousmidnight.com.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.