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A movie directed by Sam Raimi will never be like anything else you may have seen. Unless you watch a lot of late-night cable. The man behind the Evil Dead movies (Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Evil Dead 3:Army of Darkness) and Darkman does not make a normal movie. He makes odd visions of grotesque humanity.

So naturally, I was really excited to see his latest flick, Evil Dead 4: A Simple Plan. This time, Ash (usually played by Bruce Campbell but this time played by Bill Paxton) finds himself surrounded by evil on the set of Fargo. Paxton is joined on his quest by a hideously disfigured creature, played by Billy Bob Thornton and together, they uncover a pot of gold in an abandoned airplane.

But, as in all Evil Dead movies, there is evil lurking about. The Book of the Dead is gone, but in it's place, Raimi uses a large bag of money which calls to the characters and forces them to do great evil to each other.

It's actually an interesting look into Raimi's inner demons. He uses a large bag of evil money to symbolize how he has slowly been seduced by the Hollywood Machine -- leaving his low-budget cult faves and creating main-stream flicks. Could this film be a portent into his future, where he shuns Hollywood once again and returns to his heady, budgetless youth? Perhaps.

Fans of the first three Evil Dead films will not be disappointed, as there are a number of bloody scenes of horror, bodies flying backwards against the window and what-not. The only thing missing is a good scene of Bill Paxton being attacked by his own hand or some such nonsense, but in general, if you come to the theater to see people do stupid things and die, this is your baby.

I'd like to make a note about the music. Besides the fact that I saw a print with music and sound so out of synch they offered us free passes at the end of the show, the one thing I noticed was that the music was done by Danny Elfman. (Truth told, for a while, I wasn't sure if the music was bad or if Elfman was just getting really bored with his work.) Later, I saw part of Dolores Claiborne on cable, and noticed that its music was done by Danny Elfman as well. Then I went out and saw A Civil Action (fodder for another review) and noticed that ITS music was done by Danny Elfman. Then on Monday, I watched the premiere of the Dilbert Cartoon on UPN and noticed that ITS music was done by Danny Elfman. Then I remembered that last year, Danny Elfman was up for an Academy Award for best original score for Good Will Hunting AND for Men In Black.

Doesn't anybody else do movie and TV scores? I'm as big a fan of the Elfster as anyone, owning most of his Oingo Boingo albums, but isn't there anyone else in this industry who knows how to sweeten the scene with strings?

While Evil Dead 4: A Simple Plan was a decent film, it lacked much of what made the first three Evil Dead films special. It looked like Raimi slicked it up, Hollywood style, and in doing so, took away much of the simple charm that made these movies fun. I will admit that letting Ash loose in Fargo was entertaining, however, most of the really neat images were things that were actually IN the other movie. If I wanted to watch a bunch of people do dumb things and kill each other in the snow, I could have just rented Fargo and been done with it. Anyway, back to the film.

Also, while Bill Paxton can be amusing at times, I miss Bruce Campbell's Ash. Personally, if they ever make Evil Dead 5, I hope they can bring him back.

Evil Dead 4: A Simple Plan gets 3 1/4 Babylons. Not the worst movie around, but not the best.

Editor's Note:

The SMC seemed to spend a lot of time and creative energy on this review, only to declare: "Not the worst movie around, but not the best." Readers, please send your original composition entitled "Things That Will Help The Self Made Critic Get A Life" to The best suggestion will receive a Brunching Shuttlecocks tee shirt.

Rated: R
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Starring: Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, snow, Bridget Fonda, more snow, Gary Cole and so much damn snow it's sickening. Bring your thermals.

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