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Interview: Director Steve Villeneuve Talks ‘Hail to the Deadites’

October 10, 2021Ben MK

When it comes to the fandom and its status as a cult classic, few movies have enjoyed the same level of success that The Evil Dead has. After all, it's not every day that a low-budget independent film about five college students who encounter an unspeakable evil in a cabin in the woods goes on to spawn two sequels, a remake and a television series, not to mention launch the careers of such high-profile names as Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Now, as The Evil Dead approaches its 40th anniversary, Hail to the Deadites is taking a look at what makes the movie's fan community — or Deadites, as they affectionately call themselves — so special.

I caught up with Steve Villeneuve to chat about Hail to the Deadites, including how the film came about and what his most memorable experience from making the movie was.

Where did the idea to make a documentary about Evil Dead fans come about?

Villeneuve: The idea came after I finished my first documentary, Under the Scares, which had its premiere at Fantasia ten years ago. I was looking for a subject, and I'm a huge Evil Dead fan, and I was like, "This is the subject." So I went online and I looked for the biggest Evil Dead fan ever. And I was lucky, because IGN just released a video of the ultimate Evil Dead fan because of the new movie that was coming out. So I started chatting with Bri [Cummings], and she introduced me to this entire world that I wasn't aware of before. I was a fan, but I didn't know that there was such a big fandom around it. And the project started that way.

How did you go about getting the cast and crew involved in the original films for your movie?

Villeneuve: It all started with [special effects artist] Tom Sullivan, because I've been going to Cinema Wasteland for years and years, and I also filmed him when I did Under the Scares. So Tom was the first guy that we sat down to interview. And then I was also managing the horror section of the Montreal Comicon and the Ottawa Comicon, so I had contacts with agents. I'm the one who brought the ladies of Evil Dead to Montreal, and I also brought Bruce Campbell to Ottawa. So this is how, one after the other, we got the cast of the films.

Did you learn anything new about the Evil Dead films as you were making your documentary?

Villeneuve: About the movie itself? I'll say no, because there are so many featurettes on all the special editions that they're putting out every year. But I did learn a lot about the fandom. Not about the fans really, but about how the cast appreciate the fans, how the fans are super important for everybody — for Tom, for the ladies, for the people of Evil Dead II. I did learn a lot about them regarding the fans, more than what I learned about the movie.

What was the most memorable part about making this movie, for you?

Villeneuve: I'm gonna say it's about Bruce [Campbell]. When we finished the interview [with Bruce], I went to see his agent because they requested to watch the footage first [before giving] the ok to use it. And while I was asking him for his card so I could send him the footage, Bruce was next to us. And he was like, "No no no, these guys are cool. I've seen what they did in the past. So give me the release and I'm gonna sign it and you can do whatever you want." So I guess this would be the most memorable part of this adventure.

Is there a particular horror franchise that you would like to explore in your next film?

Villeneuve: If I'm talking about a franchise in particular, I'll say Halloween. But my next project is just gonna be to finish the sequel to Under the Scares. Because while we were shooting Hail to the Deadites, we still continued to shoot interviews [for that one]. And we have a great lineup so far.

Last but not least, what advice would you give to someone who's a fan of a certain movie or TV show and who wants to channel their love of that property into something they can share with other people?

Villeneuve: Something that I saw while doing the documentary was that Evil Dead fans are really a big family. So I think it's just to be respectful, to not brag because your collection is bigger than [someone else's], and to help each other. It'll make you a part of the big family, and everybody's gonna be happy.

Hail to the Deadites is available now on Digital and Demand.

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