"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Drag Me To Hell

tn_dragmetohellA supernatural horror movie like DRAG ME TO HELL might seem like a weird thing to release in the end of May. But it’s a hell of a fun time at the movies, making up for some of the underwhelming feelings we had from the bigger popcorn type movies. Looks like it’s not doing so well right now, which is too bad. I recommend all horror fans see this immediately. But if you don’t like being bossed around (and I don’t blame you on that) at least read my review please. Thanks.

Have you ever had a friend, a relative or a pet that disappeared for so long you thought they were dead, and after you gave up hope they showed up again? Or maybe your car got stolen, you figured it was gone for good but then one day the cops called you and they found it on the side of a road somewhere without that much damage? Well, that’s Sam Raimi. He was lost so deep in Spider-land we went through a period of denial, then acceptance, then moved on with our lives in a Raimi-free world and forgot all about him. But all the sudden the intercom buzzes in the middle of the night, we rub the sleep from our eyes and look out the window and holy shit if that isn’t Sam Raimi standing at the gate holding DRAG ME TO HELL in a little cage.

Let’s be fair though. I’m not gonna disavow the Sam Raimi of the 21st century. I don’t blame him for getting bored with what he was doing and making THE GIFT, even if I was kind of bored with what he did in THE GIFT. And I liked his SPIDER-MAN movies, it’s just that seven years of them is a heavy trade for the old Sam Raimi we loved. EVIL DEAD seems like so long ago now that when you hear his name associated with a horror movie (he produces a bunch of them through his company Ghost House) you assume it won’t be very good.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT had some good parts, but there’s not a particularly good track record there. There is no noticeable connection to the O.G. Sam Raimi, the guy with the energetic visuals and goofy dark humor, the purveyor of ultimate experiences in grueling horror and Three Stooges homages. The guy who strapped that camera to that car and drove it through the woods, who made a character swallow a flying eyeball, who had Liam Neeson demand the fucking elephant and blew a hole bigger than a grapefruit through quickandthedeadKeith David’s head in THE QUICK AND THE DEAD. What happened to the guy who worshipful fans rallied around and cheered on when he got to do SPIDER–MAN and then kind of… forgot about? You see glimpses of that guy in the SPIDER-MANs, but they’re hidden behind the big budgets, the top-of-the-line effects, the demands of the corporation and the iconography and the movie stars and the franchise. Not as much room to fuck around and invent shit when you’ve got all those boxes to check off. So we don’t really get to see all his talents there.

mp_dragmetohellBut god damn if O.G. Sam Raimi isn’t back with DRAG ME TO HELL. Written with his brother Ivan just after ARMY OF DARKNESS, this is an old fashioned fun-time horror movie with a tone very close to EVIL DEAD II. It treats its story of a fatal 3-day gypsy curse seriously just like EVIL DEAD did the Necronomicon Ex-mortis. It’s not another fuckin horror comedy. But you will find yourself laughing at all the inventively horrible things that befall the young loan officer Christine Brown, played by Alison Lohman.

There’s a great score and arsenal of creepy sounds courtesy of Christopher Young (HELLRAISER), and the old school Universal logo and the way the title slams onto the screen get you ready for business. But the point where I made a positive I.D. on our man Sam Raimi was in the first real setpiece where Christine fights a decrepit, angry gypsy woman in an enclosed space and the two use every dirty-fighting technique known to woman. (My SPOILER favorite: the old lady loses her false teeth but bites Christine in the face anyway.) Just this scene milks more laughter and squirming out of you than most recent horror movies do in their entire running times. And this one never lets up.

Somebody told me DRAG ME TO HELL had “jump-scares” that work, somebody else said it wasn’t very good because it was just a bunch of jump-scares. Both might be valid but I didn’t think about it that way. I don’t think it made me jump, it just seemed to be a movie where everyday reality can at any moment be ferociously invaded by feverish otherworldly visions, demonic apparitions and disgusting substances. It doesn’t build to a crescendo of insanity like EVIL DEAD. It’s more like this young professional is trying to keep a lid on the horror but it keeps pushing its way out and whacking her in the jaw with the lid. The poor girl is trying to get a promotion at the bank, but she bleeds all over her boss. She’s trying to make a good impression on her boyfriend’s parents but she starts yelling at a demon during dessert. She’s not stuck in a cabin in the woods, she’s trying to live her normal life and go to work and everything while this devil keeps circling around her licking its lips.

As horror fans we know that when somebody comes back from the dead there’s gonna be something missing, such as a soul. Maybe it looks like little Gage, but he’s gonna slash your achilles heel with a scalpel, so I was worried there would be some catch here with Raimi. Horror fans tend to be purists, and most of the ones I know are totally racist against any use of CGI. I do think there is one quick grossout gag in the movie that was a mistake to do with computers. We know it’s fake when it’s made out of rubber, but at least you know she really had to have slime on her face. When it’s digital it might as well just be a drawing. The rest of the computery shit I thought was really good though. There’s a scene involving a fly that could not have been done any other way, but looked good enough it had me questioning whether they somehow really did it.

Okay, so the computers aren’t the monkey paw’s curse, so what about the rating? If you’ve avoided this movie it might be because you read it was PG-13, the cursed watered-down rating that has been forced on so many once proud R-rated series. THE EVIL DEAD was pretty damn R (nobody gets raped by a tree in PG-13, that’s the rule), Raimi was once known for his extravagant gore, and there have been almost no good horror movies ever released with that rating. (I like the remake of THE RING, that’s about it.)

But my friends, I don’t know how to explain this, but somehow this one works. It doesn’t feel like “good for a PG-13”, it just feels like “good.” If I did not know about that rating I would’ve never believed it. This doesn’t necessarily need to have a bunch of blood (actually it does have a bunch) and it turns out that inventing new ways to be disgusting doesn’t affect the rating. I would still think it would be a problem though because with a PG-13 rating you can feel safe knowing that certain things won’t happen, certain lines will not be crossed, and that takes the horror out of it.

But take my word for it, lines are crossed in this movie. There are things that happen here that you don’t expect to happen in any movie, let alone a PG-13. There are tricks in the movie I completely fell for. I think it’s one of those decoy PG-13s they put on there to give you a false sense of security just so they can fuck with you. One act in particular – okay, it’s off screen. But it is something reprehensible that you do not ever expect the hero of a movie to do. Especially when the hero is a pretty young blonde.

That brings me to my next point, which is the unexpected cleverness of the characterization in this script. The basic feel of the movie is like a spookhouse ride. It’s about fun. This ain’t MARTYRS. So the characters can just be types if they want to. There are a couple really hatable types in here, and Raimi could leave it at that, but then these characters show another side you don’t expect, and just at the right time to make everything more uncomfortable.

More importantly Christine is subtly different from your standard horror heroine. Most women in horror movies are either idiots or saints. If you look at Laurie in HALLOWEEN, Nancy in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, Helen in CANDYMAN, Sydney in SCREAM, Kirsty in HELLRAISER… most of these ladies are goodie two shoes by design, they are supposed to have a purity that gets challenged or corrupted when they encounter true evil or whatever. They find the toughness to survive and maybe kill their attacker, but they’re still good through and through.

Christine might seem the same at first – she was raised on a farm, she’s nicer than everybody else at the bank, she even says she’s a vegetarian and volunteers at a puppy shelter. But the nice twist is that throughout the movie she has moral lapses and temptations that are a little over the edge of what can be reasonably expected. She’s still sympathetic but every once in a while she has a plan that makes you think, “Wait– really?” For example she comes very close to allowing a random old man at a diner to get his soul ripped out in place of hers. And worse.

There’s alot of humor in this going too far, and I think it’s really cool they would give that to a female character. I can see Bruce Campbell doing this stuff but I can’t think of another woman that would.

The other thing about the script that makes it a little better than it might appear on the surface is the classic horror movie morality that (by accident, I think, since it’s an old script) is very timely. The whole story kicks off with her denying an old lady a loan extension, causing her to lose her house. For Christine’s own personal code it’s the wrong thing to do, but she’s under pressure from her asshole peers and wanting to get this promotion, so she tries to be unfeeling about it. Raimi sets it up in an interesting way because the old lady is not very nice (to say the least) and is physically repulsive, coughing snot onto Christine’s desk and taking out her false teeth (which are completely rotted, by the way, even though they’re false). Christine has many excuses not to feel sorry for her, but deep down she does anyway, showing her humanity. And then throughout the movie she can have a combination of fear and guilt.

This goes back to Christine’s moral lapses, too, because she keeps lying and saying it was her boss that denied the extension, even though we saw that it was her own decision. Even while communicating with angry spirits in a seance she tries to pin it on her boss. Some funny shit. But of course she learns her lesson.

DRAG ME TO HELL doesn’t waste its time trying to reinvent horror, and it’s not nostalgic either. Okay, I counted four references to the EVIL DEADs, but it’s not trying to be retro or meta or anything. It’s just reviving an enjoyable type of horror that we don’t get enough of in our diets, and executing that style with flair and supreme skill.

Welcome back and long live new-old Sam Raimi.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 at 1:42 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

92 Responses to “Drag Me To Hell”

  1. The talking goat cracked me up. Not a big fan of the Spidey’s. The biggest Raimi moment for me from them was the scene in the second one where the surgeons try to remove Doc Oc’s tentacle-thingys.

  2. Just that screenshot alone makes me wanna re-watch ‘The Quick & The Dead’ again. :D
    ‘Drag Me To Hell’ isn’t out here in Germany yet, but I think it’s supposed be released in two weeks, although I didn’t see any trailers or posters yet. I hope they don’t decide to push it back or make it go straight to DVD.

  3. It’s nice to hear this is good. It’s not a remake or sequel which is refreshing.

  4. steven-is-my-name-not-my-tag

    June 2nd, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Great review! I saw this on the weekend and had a blast, they just don’t make many movies like this anymore.

  5. Man I had a car stolen and figured it was gone just to get it back with minimal damage. Thats just like Raimi. Funny stuff.

    This movie gets pretty crazy, and its MEGA-LOUD. I love when they slam the DRAG ME TO HELL titles up on the screen and the score has built to a deafening crescendo. And the slick scene during the first sceance, when there is some strange, faint black waves circling the room, kinda hard to see, forcing you to squint and look closer and closer and suddenly POW! they hit ya with a jump scare of a demon goat thing. I love shit like that, really sneaky.

  6. So we see that it’s not gonna make any financial impression, but comfortingly, at least genre fans are recognizing the gift we’ve been given. I wouldn’t say it’s flawless – the jolts, even if you can justify them the way Vern does, are still annoying sometimes (perhaps if I had a volume switch in the movie theater…), and for all its grossness it’s still a tad noticeably muted in the gore (not a problem in and of itself, but a few scenes that clearly should have been more explicit feel whitewashed instead), but fuck all that, this was fantastic. Why can’t more horror movies at least STRIVE to be this entertaining, genuinely spooky, stylish, amusing, and memorable? Glad that you’re onboard with the movie too, Vern. Your opinions are valuable :)

  7. what was refreshing in this was the wit that we don’t seem to see in a lot of horror movies these days. i could barely sit through the remake of FRIDAY THE 13TH. It was just such a joyless experience.
    Like the review says, this movie isn’t good for pg-13, it’s just good. Better than most of the “R” rated horror that we see.

  8. “Drag Me…” has one of the best endings I’ve seen in a long time. It’s worth the price of admission just for the that.

  9. I have to say that I think the movie is actually more subversive for being PG-13. Vern’s right. This thing doesn’t fuck around. Parents all over the country who are expecting this to be like The Grudge or The Fog remakes are going to be dragging their kids screaming from the theater. If I saw this when I was nine I would have straight up shit my pants.

    Also I really hope that Raimi isn’t just jerking us around again about finally making Evil Dead 4. If he could bring the skill set he shows here to a new Ash adventure it would blow the doors off the theater.

  10. CrustaceanHate

    June 2nd, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Isn’t it weird how Raimi has gone from EVIL DEAD, a controversial video nasty that was banned in the UK, to making a “safe” PG-13 horror? I’ve always avoided PG-13 genre movies, so it’s nice to see that sometimes a decent one can slip through.

    Maybe John Woo will be inspired by Raimi’s comeback and make a triumphant return to action movies.

  11. I loved this movie. Great review vern. You guys are right about the sound… I started this movie up to preview it before it came out and right after the boy was sucked to hell I had to run up and turn the projector down to keep from bursting my ear drums. Great sound use though. I loved the way he defied expectations throughout, subtly knocking the audience out of their comfort zones. Such a fun movie.

  12. Haven’t seen this yet but hope to tomorrow so as to not spam I’ll instead spam about nerds.

    The reason I didn’t get to see it over the weekend (other than work) is that I tried to get people to go see it with me (I rather have company when I view a film but it’s getting to the point where I’m gonna have to accept if I want to see something (ANYthing) I have to go it alone). I of coarse only asked fellow nerds & horror fans.

    They all turned me down.

    I was honestly shocked. I mean it’s Sam Raimi directing a fucking horror movie! What else do they need? All I got was the whole ‘it looks stupid’ ‘all it is is Evil Dead 4’ (that’s a bad thing?!) ‘it’s a remake to Thinner and that sucked so this is gonna suck!’

    I’m pretty convinced now that if John Woo & Chow Yun Fat reunited to make another heroic bloodshed movie nerds would avoid it like the plague (and then bitch that it sucks)

    -PS: sorry for spamming/blogging/whatever you kids call it today

  13. I just saw this tonight and this movie was great. I was wondering if Sam Rami still had it in him to make a fun horror movie and I was not disappointed. This movie was so good that it shut up the smartass in the theater who kept telling his girl what was going to happen next. This idiot thought he was being clever by guessing what would happen next and telling his girlfriend before it happened. Luckily he was wrong almost everytime and eventually just shut the fuck up and watched the movie.

    This was a great return to what Rami does best and makes me wish he would leave Spiderman alone and make more movies like this.

  14. Exorcism of Emily Rose = Good PG-13 Horror Flick. That’s about it. Haven’t seen Drag Me yet.

  15. I´ll have to wait til August. Living in Spain sucks!

  16. It really was fun to see Sam Raimi doing this Snoopy Dance of Horror. The “cat fights” were definitely the best part for me, and I guess that makes me a sick wench, but I don’t care. I, also, was intrigued by Christine Brown’s character. She does have a ruthless streak that comes out during raw moments. But I found her easy to relate to because, let’s admit it–we all have times when we do something really crappy and it makes us face what we’re really made of. I felt like she kept lying about her boss turning down the loan not just because it would somehow get her out of this curse, but because she didn’t want to *believe* that she was the one who’d made the decision. Nice touch.

  17. Alright just saw it (alone because my fellow nerd friends refused to because it did not feature a superhero or robot but will still insist they are horror fans)

    I won’t say anything that hasn’t been said already opinion wise so I’ll just say I had a lot of fun this one. It’s hands down the best (new) horror movie I’ve seen (in theaters) in a very long while. Wickedeve beat me to saying my favorite part: Brown’s interesting character. I was shocked at how funny the movie was as well. Yet it not once even comes near being a ‘horror comedy’. If this were a Michael Bay (or a good number of other directors) movie he would have ‘enhanced’ the comedy and made it a big deal (maybe the film would be more welcomed/liked if Raimi did so).

    That said I had a great audience to watch it with (all 4 of them) I had a guy couple below me (20s or 30s I think) & an older husband/wife couple (40s or above) above me, both groups clearly dig horror movies. So that energy enhanced the experience ten fold.
    -Godzilla 2000 may still be the best theater-going experience still but this was a close second.

    Coming out the guy couple were laughing hysterically talking about how fun it was. The older couple pleased and the husband saying very true words: “Finally something that’s different from everything else!”

    We all then passed the two boy & one girl custodians (teens). The girl asked if it was any good to which the guys whom are clearly trying to get into her pants told her it was stupid and the Saw & Hostel films were better. The other boy states if she wants to see a horror movie just wait for H2! She then asks if the movie is rated-R at least to which they tell her about the PG-13 rating to which she replies “well I’m definitely not seeing now!”

    See the PG-13 rating works (to keep horror fans away)!

    -Conversely why is it quality or at least inventive horror films like this & ‘The Frighteners’ always tank and fail to find an audience (at least until video)? Cause I’m not even sure it has to do with shitty release dates.

  18. i had more fun watching this movie (at a drive-in no less, classy) than any movie i can recall in the last… i dunno. a long time. i hope DVD sales do well, cause I would love Sam to keep on track with these types of films.

    i also counted 4(ish) Evil Dead references. well done. haha.
    laughing cup, gotta love it.

  19. Spoilers…

    That scene with the envelope being swapped pissed me right off though. I dunno about you lot but to me that was so head-smackingly obvious that all my sympathy for Christine disappeared and rather than feel like I was on her side, hoping she made it, I was just watching the clock tick down to the ‘big twist’ that everyone saw coming but Christine.

    I know I’m posting on this a bit late now, but this is England and we get stuff slightly later than you, so if you still glance through your old posts, Vern, I’d like to hear your opinion on this…

    Did knowing she’d accidentally picked up the coin instead of the button not piss you off at all? I was so annoyed. Raimi seems to deliberately make it SO obvious, because not only do we get the shot of her dropping her files and everything getting mixed up, but then Christine actually panics aloud about nearly losing the envelope a few times before she finally picks up the wrong one.

    Really soured an otherwise fucking excellent film, in my opinion.


    Maybe I’m thick O Goncho, but that was the trick I was referring to that I fell for. That made it a spectacular ending because I really thought everything was okay and it would just have the standard sting ending where you realize that uh oh, there’s still something out there and something bad could still happen. I thought it would leave it up to your imagination though. Good stuff.

    I hope if they make a sequel (yeah, right) he doesn’t just get cursed but actually tries to go to Hell to get her back, and things go badly.

  21. Like O Goncho I thought the envelope switching was very obvious, but I thought it was a joke we were all suppose to be in on, and thought it went with many of the other gags in the film. It certainly didn’t spoil a thing for me and only made the previous scene in the grave yard funnier.

    Hey Vern try to be a little more glass half full when it comes to the sequel….ah, who am I trying to kid.

  22. I also thought the twist was pretty obvious, but I couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or not. It didn’t stop the movie from being the best horror movie of the year by about fifty fucking miles.

    If anybody’s curious, click on my name to read my own review. It’s the wordy one at the bottom next to the picture of the chick in the wet T-shirt.

  23. Wow, okay. Fair enough, dude. I guess I just wasn’t as caught up in it all as I thought I was, because it was a real sore thumb to me.
    I was in there with a guy who’d already seen it once already though, I guess. He didn’t give anything away, but when I saw that scene and turned to him it was just all over his face.

    But yeah, for once I wouldn’t be averse to a sequel here. I already have the perfect title too: ‘Drag Me Out of Hell, You Sucka!’
    I better register that before Universal take the initiative.

    Also, Mondoray, I do get what you’re saying. I think Raimi is way too competent a filmmaker for that scene not to have been deliberate and knowing. But if that is the case, then I gotta say I think it was one wink-wink nudge-nudge too far.

    I was all for the stuff like where the fly actually lands on the lense of the camera before it starts fucking with Christine’s nose. Subtle things like that were enough for me to say ‘Heh, me and Sam, we’re totally in on this together, you know. We’ve connected here, man.’

    + It’s not like I didn’t know it would end with a last shocker. Sorry Verny, but it’s all over the poster, man. But making it so obvious (to me, anyway) just cheapened the overall experience.

    Still, at least it taught me a very valuable lesson about never EVER to pissing off that old Romanian couple who live down the street. Just not worth it.

  24. Actually I shouldn’t write off a sequel. This is a company that has churned some out, and horror movies these days most often make their money on video. HOUSE OF THE ONE THOUSAND CORPSES is one example of a movie that did badly in theaters but got a sequel.

    Of course there’s always the risk of Raimi not directing the sequel. And Arnold Vosloo playing the gypsy woman.

  25. i’ll admit the swap fooled me too.
    i assumed when she freaked out looking for it in the mess of papers, it was only to show how psycho she appears to her boyfriend. so by the end of the movie i expected some kind of cop out, like the button just appearing in her pocket again without an explanation. so i liked this way much better.

  26. THE EVIL DEAD references I caught:

    1) Old Yellow Oldsmobile (as always)
    2) The mid-air Deadite dance during the seance
    3) When Christine is in her car driving to the graveyard and says, “I’m gonna get me some!” A take on the classic “Come get some.”
    4) aaand… what else am I missing?

    I gotta say, this was the most fun I’ve had at the theater in a long time. There was a group of teenage girls to the left of our group and they screamed so loud about three times that we almost thought it was part of the soundtrack. There’s something great about seeing (and hearing) those reactions from an audience.

  27. I think the talking goat had to have been a nod to the laughing deer head in Evil Dead II. Too damn surreal and hilarious for it not to be, I reckon.

  28. i never thought it was supposed to be a twist. like the guy said above me, i thought the audience was supposed to be in on the joke the whole time. it ties in the tone of the e.c. comics that this feels like it was based on, at least in spirit. the joke is how far she goes in delaying the inevitable. she kills her kitty, pawns all of her stuff, and digs up a rotting corpse.

    i thought that maybe justin long would end up being the owner of the button and he would get pulled down to hell.

  29. For sure the talking goat…but also when all the items in the seance appear to be giggling, much like scene in the Cabin in Evil Dead II, where everything appears to have been possessed, which is of course the scene with the deer head too.

  30. keepcoolbutcare

    June 5th, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Heath – flying eyeball into unsuspecting open mouth after the anvil gets dropped atop noggin, I think.

  31. The four I was thinking of were

    1. Oldsmobile
    2. Get some
    3. “Choke on it, bitch!” is I think what Ash says to the stop motion demon when he puts a shotgun in its mouth in part 2 (am I imagining that?)
    4. The workshed with outlines of powertools on the wall like in part 2

    and yeah, of course there were many other things that reminded me of EVIL DEAD, but those ones seemed like specific in-jokes

    I wish I saw it with a crowd, but I saw it on a Sunday afternoon. The small crowd seemed to like it, though. Maybe if I go see it again I’ll go on a Saturday night or something.

  32. Well i checked DRAG ME TO HELL out last night. It was great to see Sam Raimi delving back into his old bag of tricks… but i did feel slightly let down by the finale[s?]. Considering the whole film was packed with great scares and freaky moments, i felt that the seance and graveyard scenes were a tad underwhelming. Maybe as someone who grew up on the Evil Dead trilogy i was expecting too much from a PG-13 [or cert.15 here in the UK]?

    And regarding the button/coin sequence – i actually felt that it was quite subtle. Sure, i saw it coming but the person i watched it with didn’t and maybe that makes them a dumbass, but what does it matter? It was more subtly handled than most Hollywood product anyway.

    Ultimately though, it was a fun spook-fest and a nice change of pace from all the mean-spirited SAW/HOSTEL shockers.

  33. Huh.

    See, I thought the button/coin switch was a way to put the button on the boyfriend. I was expecting the end to be Christine realizing what had happened, and watching her boyfriend get drug off to hell because of her mistake.

  34. Ha, if anything, I think we might have just come up with 10+ EVIL DEAD references instead of 4. Nice. Thanks for the replies fellas.

    This whole week I’ve wanted to watch the EVIL DEAD movies after seeing DRAG ME TO HELL. I never bought any of the hundred different versions of the second two.

    I’d check it out on a Saturday night, Vern. Might as well right? This is one of the rare occasions where the audience works well with the experience and as great as the movie is, it won’t be quite the same at home.

  35. I saw it with hardly anybody in the theater. Nobody screamed at all and it was still awesome. I do wish I saw it with a big crowd, though. Man, I miss the two buck theaters where you could afford to go see a movie four or five times.

  36. Since it’s the topic of moment I’ll just say I forgot all about the
    coin but figured the button wasn’t in the envelope. Like people above said I think it was Raimi playing along with us and I too thought the ending was going to be the Mac guy taking her place.

    That out of the way the real reason I’m posting is because an aspect of the film had me thinking.

    Since in this film’s universe there is a hell for a fact. If she had pawned the button off wouldn’t she have been damned anyways?

    This isn’t even taking into account her kitty sacrificing. But I mean if there is a hell and she is responsible for sending an ‘innocent’ to hell (alive to boot) wouldn’t she be in pretty much fucked when it is her ‘time’ and is being judged at heaven’s gate?

    Maybe I’m reading & thinking too much into it.

  37. Maybe but I bet she would have had a little more time to confess and reprent for the whole kitty slaying thing than if she had just chilled out and watched the clock till the Lamia came knocking.

    Maybe a second watch will reward me in this case and I won’t be so bothered by that damn button, but at the moment, yeah, it still bothers me.

  38. I really enjoyed this flick. It was total spooky fun and though I noticed some of Raimi’s Evil Dead stylings, the movie I kept thinking of while watching was Poltergeist.

  39. Hey thats some really good thinking there Geoffreyjar. I never thought about that til now. I think maybe the fact that she thought she was going to hell made her do the things that she did to be in that position more than the curse itself. Sure she might’ve been damned from the start, but if you had a feeling you were going to hell didn’t then why not go to the church for advice instead of doing crazy rituals that might attract said spirits from hell (Which is similar to what O Goncho said, i hope). Killing a cat, doing seances, and thinking of ways to get out of the situation through bad intentions seem more of a reason to go to hell than not giving an old lady a loan. So she probably made the situation worse and gave a better reason for her deserving hell than what she thought had happened in the first place. Sort of like how fear can drive you to the point where you’ve lost your faith type deal? Or i’m going to kill you by acting like i’m going to push you, but you’ve backed away too far where you get yourself killed?

    Anyway, this movie should’ve ended with her being dragged to hell only to find that she is in the middle of a war between JASON, FREDDY, ASH and PINHEAD. With its sequel titled, HOW THE HELL DID WE GET DRAGGED INTO THIS?

    other things that were not mentioned

    – Eye in the cake! (reminded me of the necronomicon for some reason)
    – Raimi POV windshots (though brief)
    -Fighting handicapped, while still making good use of what they didn’t have (actually i didn’t know what to put for this one. But losing a hand might be the same for one whos lost an eye and a whole bunch of teeth)

  40. Just watched it and I already got my favourite movie of 2009. I can stop watching movies till next year! NOTHING will top this! This was 100% pure fun. Nothing less. It was fucking awesome! Even if the little kittie died. Usually this is a no-no for me and just because of this I’m happy that she burns in hell, but the whole movie was such a fucking funride, that it doesn’t matter!
    Damn, I pity the people who don’t like it.

  41. I got really excited when they mentioned going to the cabin in the woods but the bastard was just teasing us!

  42. The Mongrel Tarant

    June 14th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Just thought since Vern talked about the heroine in character, I’d like to add somewhere on this darn internet that Alison Lohman was phenomenal. How subtle a performance in some extreme horror/comedy circumstances! Her face when she’s meeting her boyfriend’s parents is hysterical as she tries to explain how cats “come and go.” Again, like Vern said, she’s sympathetic, but never over-pitiable, and even achieves awesomeness in a grave in the rain. Hopefully she get’s nominated in some stupid award ceremony if she’s into prestige. Maybe the MTV movie awards

  43. On Alison Lohman, Sam Raimi obviously loves big-chinned masochists! Fair play for her, a very game performance.

  44. Throwing this out there, let’s see if it sticks.

    Since Transformers 2 is coming out next week, I though it would be cool if everyone bought a ticket for this instead.

    If you want to endure Transformers, more power to you, but just buy a ticket to Drag Me To Hell and walk into Transformers.

    Seriously, how cool would it be if you could get enough people to do that and put a movie to the #1 spot (that actually deserves it) weeks after it’s initial release.

    I’m slowly getting all my friends to check this out, mostly because I can’t stop talking about how great it is. I think I might be able to rally a bunch of them together to watch it this Friday. With some luck, I might also be able to convince them to buy a ticket to Drag Me To Hell and sneak into Transformers at a later time since I know a lot of them are going to watch it.

    What do you think? Great idea or Magnificent Idea?

  45. That’s a great idea. *goes off to start a campaign*

  46. hamsline

    If the urban legend is true then something like that already had.

    Back in 1999 ‘Wild Wild West’ & ‘South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut’ were released the same week. ‘West’ was PG-13 & ‘Park’ (which was at it’s peak in popularity at the time) was rated R. The legend goes that kids where buying tickets to see ‘West’ and sneaking in too see ‘Park’ and even though ‘Park’ got a decent box office tickets it was believed it had a much high attendance rate than ‘West’ or any of the other heavy hitters that month.

    Of coarse, like all urban legends, take that story with a grain of salt. After all ‘West’ was a heavily hyped massive Will Smith movie and was going to make bank in that first week before people realized it was the worst Hollywood-produced film of the ’90s. That and Smith I think has a bigger market than ‘South Park’ I’m guessing. But like most urban legends they are fun to hear and sometimes fun to believe.

    Alas I will not be able to go forward with your idea as I am attending the film at a single-screen theater (http://theprytania.com/) and something tells me they’d catch on pretty damned quick if I try your suggestion. Plus I wont be paying for it anyways with this groovy free pass I got for buying underwear at K-Mart, an underpants pass if you will. Bay got my money this year with ‘Friday the 13th’ so he wasn’t getting it (directly) for this one.

  47. I believe the same thing happened with Rambo and Meet the Spartans. I espoused this theory on a Meet the Spartans message board and was immediately invited to “scuk ballz, u hater.”

    P.S. I refrained.

  48. Oh, and if you hate Transformers 2, be sure to make the joke that the underwear and the ticket were both used for “catching a turd.” You don’t even have to credit me or anything. That’s my gift to you.

  49. geoffreyjar – I heard something similar but it was for Wild Hogs and Zodiac. I think my idea is a bit different for two reasons:

    1. Drag Me To Hell has been in theaters for a while and for it to all of a sudden bump up to #1 (wont happen but if enough people are on board…who knows) that would give it some pretty positive publicity.

    2. Usually it’s the good movie that suffers (Rambo, Zodiac, (I don’t know if South Park really suffered, but I’ll go with it.)) this way it’ll be the other way around.

    I can see how you wouldn’t be able to contribute due to your circumstances but maybe pass it along to some of your buddies. Since you’re going to see it could you let me know how many lines Mike Patton has in it? He’s playing Mixmaster (not that you’ll be able to tell visually) so I imagine there’ll be at least one scene where he yells, “I AM MIXMASTER!!!!! ARGGHHHHHH!!!!!” or something to that effect.

    Also, not that it matters, but it’s hamsliMe, like that gross smegma that coats lunchmeat. Actually it’s Erik, but this is the internets and I have to maintain my annonymity so I can tough talk people from behind a keyboard without consequence. *place smiley face emoticon here*

    Mr. Majestyk – My underwear just caught a turd after I read that. Good one.

  50. I saw this last week in a double bill with Darkman and it was a great Sam Raimi refresher.

    Everything Vern says is true. This film is a great time at the movies and more fun with somebody else. So it should probably be hitting video soon, so rent it with a group of friends and have blast.

  51. Alright, I missed this movie when it was playing in theaters, due to combination of not having the time to make it out to the nearest theater and because I was terrified of being burned by a PG-13 curse movie from a filmmaker I usually love. If I had sat down in a theater and watched Sam Raimi piss away the goodwill I’ve had for him since watching Evil Dead 2 about five years ago, it might have been one of the biggest heart breaks in my movie going career. But today, Drag Me to Hell came out on DVD and I decided fuck it, why not and bought the sucker.
    Sweet Jesus, this movie was amazing. THIS is what I think all the Zombieland nutters are trying to make that movie out to be. Is it wrong that I was laughing at the film’s last couple minutes? Because swear to God, not since American Werewolf has a director just nailed a closing moments punchline in thier horror movie like Raimi does with that last sequence. Now I’m going to start beating myself up for not seeing this in theaters with a big crowd who would laughing, screaming and cheering right along side me.
    I’m sure you guys all know the feeling I have right now: that pit of your gut sense of pure bliss when a movie comes along and declares itself a new favorite. There’s an unmatchable high, ESPECIALLY with horror and other genre movies. You know, 2009 has sucked in a lot of ways, but when we reach the end and look back, we should acknowledge that Sam Raimi went back to horror and showed all these “dark and twisted and fuck society” Splat Pack dipshits how it is done. That a major new talent named Neil Blomkamp took 30 million and made a movie that towered above movies that cost ten times that, and that Pixar created their great masterpiece this year. So when Rudolph and his dopey pals show up at 2009’s island, it won’t only be dead celebrities and economic strife waiting to meet them, there will also be a hearty helping of killer aliens and fucked up demons.
    Don’t tell my Dad!

  52. And it’s still my favourite movie of 2009! I hope it will break every DVD selling record on Halloween!

  53. CJ Holden: I think it is a safe bet that this is going to be a massive cult movie that people remember years from now. Especially because of that Pg-13 that shook me off being interested. Parents are going to see Sam Raimi’s name, remember him as the Spider-Man guy, and then see the rating and figure that this movie is right alongside stuff like Pirates or Transformers in its appropriateness. There will be an entire generation who will carry this as their first horror movie, the same way 80’s and 90’s kids were raised and traumatized by Gremlins or Poltergeist.

  54. Brendan, you warmed my heart with these words and I would love to give you a manly hug. While I was also sure that the movie will only gain popularity as soon as it hits DVD, I never thought of that “first horror movie” angle.

  55. Rented this a week or two ago. The Universal logo should have made me stop right there. So we have a Mexican, Mexicans wear cowboy hats and cowboy boots and drive pickup trucks, their children steal and their wives wail. Then we have mouse girl and Mac boy, I can’t imagine ever caring about these people. Mouse girl’s promotion is threatened by an Asian, then gypsy lady appears with that stupid colored contact lense, and that is as far as I got. Immeadiatley watched Trick ‘R Treat again and felt much better.

  56. “Rented this a week or two ago. The Universal logo should have made me stop right there. So we have a Mexican, Mexicans wear cowboy hats and cowboy boots and drive pickup trucks, their children steal and their wives wail. Then we have mouse girl and Mac boy, I can’t imagine ever caring about these people. Mouse girl’s promotion is threatened by an Asian, then gypsy lady appears with that stupid colored contact lense, and that is as far as I got. Immeadiatley watched Trick ‘R Treat again and felt much better.”

    Is this for real? If you cant sit through 15-20 mins of set-up for a horror story, or any story for that matter, then you prolly have ADD.

  57. Hey, be nice. Can’t you see that he was disgusted by Raimi’s blatant racism? I mean, evil asians, Mexicans with a pick up and even a mouse, a Mac and a contact lense!

  58. And apparently he has some prior grievance with the old Universal logo. Perhaps a globe surrounded by weird purple clouds killed his partner.

  59. I personally just start convulsing and screaming whenever a movie opens in any time period other then the present day. Any movie made before this current year, or set any time in the future or past? Makes me want to dive off a cliff.

  60. I know, right? I tried watching Unforgiven the other day and I was like, “Horses? You gotta be kidding me. Nice try, movie.”

    Seriously though, Michael, we’re only being so hard on you because we think Drag Me To Hell is a hell of a fun horror movie and your reasons for disliking it seem so arbitrary. You should really give it another chance someday.

  61. Yeah, I’d have to have more explanation on that one to really respond, Michael. I’m especially confused what your disagreement is with the Universal Logo and why Alison Lohman is a mouse. Sorry you didn’t like (the beginning of) it though. I hope to check out Trick R Treat soon (after Halloween I guess).

  62. I never thought I would say that, but I’m hesitating to get this movie on DVD. Apparently you can only get the unrated cut here in Germany and this version ruins one of the best gags of the theatrical version, by turning it into a dark shock scene. (The death of the cat has now 100% more blood fountains and stabbing.)

  63. So in the original version she just makes stabbing motions and you hear the cat crying or something? I’m not sure how that works, I’ve only seen the UNRATED SUPEREXTREME HARDCORE DONT WATCH THIS MOVIE KIDS IT MIGHT AS WELL BE A PORNO edition. And it was a good time.

  64. I think in the version I saw the cat-slaying takes place entirely off screen. You just see her splattered in blood burying it in the garden, if memory serves.

  65. Huh, I’d have to see that version to really say which one is better (everyone who has seen both says the regular cut is better) but I will say that seeing her actually kill the cat actively put me on the side of seeing Christine get sucked to hell. I mean, she’s still sympathetic and all, but all the miseries that fall on her gave me the giggles more then they probably would if I was 100% on her side. I don’t even like cats but still…Jesus.

  66. The differences are here (Site is in German, sorry for that, but it has pictures): http://www.schnittberichte.com/schnittbericht.php?ID=5392849
    In the theatrical version, just just see her coming closer to the cat, than you see the house from the outside and hear the cat cry. (interesting enough: The explicit unrated scene is shorter than the harmless theatrical scene)
    Usually dead cats in movies are a no-go for me, but in the theatrical version it was so damn hilarious, that Raimi not just picked any pet for her to kill, but the sweetest, tiniest, cutest, most harmless pet he could find, and the last time we see it alive, is when it looks completely innocent and wide-eyed and the dark, giant shadow that is coming closer and closer. It was right out of a “Treehouse Of Terror”. :D

  67. “at the camera” was supposed to be after “innocent and wide-eyed”.

  68. And of course it’s “Treehouse Of Horror”, not Terror. Sorry for that.

  69. Just saw this, and liked it, until the ending, which I thought managed to be both predictable and a cop-out. Two problems:

    1) The setup was weak – Raimi telegraphs what’s going to happen about a mile before it actually does. I think it could’ve been done with a lot more subtlety.

    2) It was a cop-out. What if A Certain Character had handed A Certain Object to A Certain Other (Oblivious) Character just before A Certain Event Happened? I mean, we’ve already established that the heroine is going to do pretty much anything to avoid being dragged into hell, right? The “sacrifice” pretty much proved that. If she’d actually done what I think that character would have done in that situation, it would’ve been one of the most fantastic horror movies ever. Instead it just came off as a bit lame and predictable.

    Don’t get me wrong – I would recommend the film whole-heartedly to anybody and enjoyed it immensely. I just wish Raimi had followed up on the excellent setup with the payoff the rest of the movie deserved.

  70. OK I was trying to be all subtle and spoiler free, and all the other comments have pretty much given it away anyway. :) So after what happened to the cat, I have to ask this:

    Why didn’t she just give the button to her boyfriend? She’s got enough time at the end to do it.

  71. “”could’ve been done with a lot more subtlety.”


    I mean Raimi does his DePalma best to fuck with expectations. To screw with ya. If it didn’t work for you, sorry.

  72. RRA – yeah, that’s the point, it’s the only time in the movie he DIDN’T fuck with my expectations, and it was the final scene. Everything up until that point was excellent, but the payoff just cheapened it.

    Again – I loved this movie up until that point, and I would 100% recommend it to any fan of this kind of genre. It’s beautifully done and by turns laugh-out-loud hilarious, jump-out-of-your-seat scary and flat-out gross. I just with Raimi had had the balls to end it with a real kick-to-the-balls instead of a polite whimper.

  73. Paul, I kind of thought the same thing, it would have been amazing if she handed him the envelope thinking it had a coin in it, but instead was the button and a split second later he was dragged to hell in her place. She didn’t give it to him intentionally because she’s not a ‘bad’ person just desperate and selfish. She ‘could’ have given it to some random guy or that asshole, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She WAS a good person, that’s the punchline.

  74. Brendan – I agree, but that’s why it would’ve worked so well. Earlier in the movie she couldn’t bring herself to do it to a stranger, but now, on the cusp of being dragged to eternal torment, she does it to the person she’s closest to in her life, for the same reason that she killed the cat. Even as she’s saving her soul from being taken to hell, she’s losing it. It woulda been an awesome ending.

    But more to the point, I think she WOULD have done it. I think, given that one little moment of opportunity, she would’ve seized it and regretted it later on. I think the fact that she didn’t is unconvincing and not true to the character.

  75. When would she have given it to him? The half second after she realized she still owned the button? Because the ngiht before she was getting sucked into hell, she was still unable to give the button away. I’m not sure that her giving it to him was in character. If she fucked up and accidently damned him, that would be a really great stinger to send the audience out. As is, it’s still pretty badass.

  76. Nice idea guys except in our Shymalan era where audiences assume a mega plot twist or some shit in their thrillers/horrors…they probably would have still seen it coming.

  77. RRA- I don’t think what I was suggesting was a twist ending. It would just be a crazy switch, kind of like how the ending is already but kind of darker/

  78. Over the last few weeks I heard from several people how the ending seemed to be a huge dealbreaker for them. I think it’s weird, because while I admit that the ending was the weakest part, the rest of the movie was strong enough to forgive it.

  79. CJ Holden- For me it was the opposite, the sheer ballsiness of the ending made me take the movie up from “Fun time” to “Instant classic.” I rewound and rewatched that sucker four times to register if what I had just seen happen actually happened. I was just spit-balling other directions it could have gone.

  80. CJ – it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, it was just a bit of a let-down after what was really a fantastic movie up until that point.

    I think about movies like last year’s “Wall-E” and “The Dark Knight”… these movies are so fantastic, to me, that the few bits that are actually not good about them seem to stand out all the more. Doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the experience as a whole, because I most definitely did.

  81. I guess it was my expectations they were playing with and not you guys, because I thought the ending was the best part. To me the existing ending is darker and more ballsy than the one Paul suggests. Like you said she already sacrificed a damn kitten, it wouldn’t be that shocking for her to turn on her boyfriend (who’s been depicted as mostly a pain in the ass throughout the movie). I just didn’t expect her to actually get dragged down to hell at the last second after it seemed like she got away. And all because her boyfriend is trying to be nice and get her button back to her.

    Then it leaves him standing there with a dumb look on his face having possibly inherited the button for himself. I would’ve been excited for a sequel if it would’ve made money. (maybe straight to video with Arnold Vosloo replacing Justin Long.)

  82. I don’t see any reason why Raimi couldn’t push a sequel through development if he bothered to write a script and try. He turned Evil Dead into a decade spanning franchise. He probably couldn’t be bothered though.

  83. That look on her face when she is Dragged To Hell is horrifying to me. Her face sinking in the way it does and she just looks so helpless. It’s also sad to know that this likable girl we’ve (I’ve) been rooting for is going to spend eternity being tortured in the fiery pits of hell. That’s some sad shit.

    I didn’t really mind that she killed a cat though on account that I’m allergic to the fuckers. It may be cold but I’m about as sympathetic towards dead cats as Gordon Schumway. Only I don’t eat them.

  84. Having recently seen Black Sabbath for the first time, one of the things that struk me was just how much Raimi lifted from the best of the stories (The Drop of Water) for this movie. Everything from the fly and other little things like that, especially in the first Lamia attack scene, where it seems like the heroine is being stalked by noises. Good stuff.

  85. Saw this last night with the girlfriend, who kept saying “This is silly!” and stuff like that. I had to explain to her that yes, it is silly, and these are the kind of movies Raimi makes. She didn’t like it. “Silly.”

    I thought it was borderline great. I could have used about 10 times as much demonic talking goat though, that was by far my favorite part. Freaky, shocking, and actually quite scary. Instead it immediately switches to the flying Buffy-vampire-style posessed dude, which we’ve all seen so many times while flipping channels past the WB that it has ceased to be interesting at all. Well, for me anyway.

    I knew she had grabbed the wrong envelope, and then was reassured that she had gotten the right envelope because you could see the round thing in it (stupid me, Mr. Short Term Memory), and then laughed out loud at the ending. Awesome.

    Justin Long continually surprises me. It’s like in IDIOCRACY – you expect that when you see some well-known actor playing a pot-smoking incompetent doctor in the dystopian future that it will be a dull, uninspired, unmemorable throwaway joke. And yet he sells it and it works. Bring on DRAG ME FROM HELL: NOT WITHOUT MY GIRLFRIEND starring Justin Long as a badass CONSTANTINE – style exorcist. You wouldn’t expect the squirmy little Apple guy to be able to pull off “badass” but I bet he could, with flying colors.

  86. I just saw this film with my wife. I went into it after being informed by various reviewers and critics that it was a “must see.” Lean in so you can hear me say this… IT WAS BAD! As in terrible. The premise was cool, but the execution was awful. As a kid I was a fan of the EVIL DEAD stuff but now that kind of special effects doesn’t hold up. Sure, I cringed when the old lady was gumming the protagonist’s face. I can’t recall being grossed out of late and this movie had one or two scenes, but as a horror film or a horror/comedy or whatever it is it does not deserve an ounce of praise. The scene in which they call the spirit into the room and it jumps from body to body is just garbage.

    Yeah, the ending was okay though. It wasn’t incredible but it had some sort of substance to it in that we rarely – SPOILER – see a protagonist get brutally dragged to hell. I can see the sequel and that’s the girl fights her way out of hell and I probably won’t see it.

    I don’t mean to be so scathing but there’s been a ton of praise for this film and I don’t get it. The action/horror sequences are straight out of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS which is fine in 1997 sitting on my couch with no expectations.

  87. This morning I watched “Land Of The Lost” (short review: Not as bad as many people say, but not nearly as good as it could have been. The Giacchino score is awesome, though!) and I was surprised that it starts VERY similar like “Drag Me To Hell”.
    Which means first we see the old Universal logo and then after a dramatic first scene, there is a smash cut to the title card, with very huge white letters on a black background.

  88. Here is Evil Dead in 60 seconds.Claymation style.Enjoy.


  89. CJ – Land of the Lost and Drag Me to Hell were actually released theatrically one week apart from each other and released on home video on the same day! October 13th, 2009… which coincidentally happens to be EIGHT YEARS AGO TODAY!

  90. And be sure to tell ’em Large Marge sent ya! Mwahahahaha!

  91. I’ve assembled a short list of films that I feel fulfill the still nebulously defined tenets of the nascently identified Spookablast genre: Drag Me to Hell, Evil Dead II, The Frighteners, House, Tales from the Crypt Presents Demon Knight.

    I feel pretty safe in these classifications so, while I welcome observations – either in the affirmative or the negative – regarding the respective spookablastivity of these films, I am even more interested in everyone’s opinion on this second list of films, which I either suspect of being spookablasts, feel come close to the spookablast sweet spot, or share enough qualities with bonafide spookablasts that they warrant discussion in relation to the genre.

    Possible Spookablasts:

    Fright Night
    From Dusk Till Dawn
    The Gate
    House on Haunted Hill
    Monster Squad
    A Nightmare on Elm Street
    John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness
    The Return of the Living Dead
    Tales from the Crypt Presents Bordello of Blood
    John Carpenter’s The Thing
    Thirteen Ghosts

    Questions for discussion:

    • Does the spook in spookablast refer to spook in its noun or verb forms? As Drag Me to Hell features both supernatural specters as well as copious jump scares, it could be either.

    • While Return of the Living Dead’s punk rock attitude/gleeful, comic nihilism certainly makes it a blast, it’s ‘spooks’ are undead ghouls. Does this disqualify it as a spookablast? Would it be better classified as a ghoulablast/zombieblast?

    • In addition to coming from the seeming originator of the term, Evil Dead II’s balance of horror and comedy makes it as ideal an example of the genre as Drag Me to Hell. However, what of the original Evil Dead? Is it too grueling to be a blast? On the other hand, is Army of Darkness too lighthearted? The series seems to represent a Goldilocks situation with the middle entry being juuuust right for a spookablast.

    • For some reason, I want to include every exploding vampire movie as at least a tertiary spookablast. Am I just confusing the definitions of blast or can a vampire be a spook? Or is the in-your-face 80’s-ness of the exploding vampire subgenre simply too much of a blast (literal and figurative) to ignore?

    • I am afraid of clowns/dolls/clown dolls. Thus, I have not seen either iteration of Poltergeist or It.

    • Slither and John Carpenter’s The Thing: alienblasts?

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