10 New Zealand cast
6,500 litres of fake blood
Shot in Auckland
The iconic horror franchise returns with, Evil Dead Rise, written and directed by Lee Cronin (The Hole in the Ground). The film stars Lily Sullivan (I Met a Girl, Barkskins), Alyssa Sutherland (New Gold Mountain, Vikings), Morgan Davies (The End, Storm Boy), Gabrielle Echols (Reminiscence) and New Zealander Nell Fisher (Northspur).
Evil Dead Rise is produced by longtime franchise producer Rob Tapert (Ash vs Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe) and executive produced by series creator and horror icon Sam Raimi and cult legend and “Ash” himself, Bruce Campbell, along with John Keville, Macdara Kelleher, Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Romel Adam and Victoria Palmeri.
Cronin is joined behind the camera by New Zealanders, director of photography Dave Garbett (Z for Zachariah, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), production designer Nick Bassett (Guns Akimbo, Sweet Tooth), editor Bryan Shaw (Ash vs Evil Dead, Spartacus) and costume designer Sarah Voon (Chasing Great, Inside).
“Once we got the go ahead and brought in Lee, he wrote the script, and we were in on the development. Then, ‘Where are we going to shoot?’ ‘Let’s do it in New Zealand.’ We had great crews to back Lee up there. That was our job as producers—’Don’t tie his hands, let the boy run!’ It was such a great experience. I mean, it was time to get out of the cabin.”
Creating Los Angeles in New Zealand
For the all-important non-woodsy setting—the family apartment in Los Angeles, soon to be bulldozed—filmmakers turned to New Zealand production designer Nick Bassett, a previous franchise collaborator on Ash vs Evil Dead, a series that was also shot in New Zealand.
Bassett says, “I think the interesting thing about this film is that it was a new take on the franchise. Lee came at it with a really fresh script, and I was really excited about doing a kind of urban contemporary Los Angeles with evil. Plus, someone coming from Ireland to make a movie that’s set in Los Angeles and shooting in New Zealand, that sort of collision of things I always find very interesting.”
Bassett and team scouted Auckland for a tower block that could stand in for the crumbling Art Deco structure as depicted in the screenplay—the designer had spotted a strong candidate in a local television commercial and, when shown to Cronin, the site was approved.
The exteriors of the first three floors then became the basis of the design concepts of the apartment building itself. The 14th-floor apartment set (including the hallway and that torturous elevator, along with the basement vault and the parking lot) were then constructed on soundstages. The premise was to create an apartment in a building in the same way that Evil Dead memorialized a cabin in the woods. “We’re in a very unique building that doesn’t exist in Los Angeles, but it could,” acknowledges Bassett.
ALYSSA SUTHERLAND as Ellie in New Line Cinema’s horror film “EVIL DEAD RISE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
Creating the blood
The Evil Dead franchise is known for the amount of blood the characters exude, encounter and are engulfed by. “Blood” fell under the purview of special effects supervisor New Zealander Brendan Durey (and, if self-generated, makeup FX and prosthetics designer New Zealander Luke Polti).
Durey’s company Filmfx has worked on Tapert productions dating back to the 1990’s, and that’s a lot of blood. Durey explains, “The blood recipes have evolved quite a lot. We’ve done a bunch of jobs where we’ve had all sorts of different types, including vampire blood. Over the years we’ve crystallized it down to quite a good formula, which makes a strong, rich dark color, but we also have a mix for a brighter color, for something supercharged and very visceral. Going into ‘Evil
Dead Rise,’ we found that our formula didn’t quite meet up to the demands of the film, so we had a research and development session and came up with a new dedicated recipe.”
That recipe was utilized to create more than 6,500 liters of blood—the total amount used during the making of “Evil Dead Rise.” (For comparison, a typical human body contains only about five liters… doing the math, that’s the equivalent of 1,300+ bodies’ worth.)
When that blood is the result of, say, severed limbs, a whole new set of challenges arises. Per Durey: “To nail down some of the key factors when you’re squirting blood around, you’ve got to tune it to the right viscosity by using accumulators, pressure pots and tubes to force the blood out of different nozzles. So, it’s about trying to assess how it works, and then get the tests in front of Lee to establish what’s in his head and what he wants it to look like. It can be very hit-and-miss on the day—once you start squirting actors with it, it can be a bit of a time sink, cleaning them up afterwards. We test as much as possible before shoot day.”
A scene from New Line Cinema’s horror film Evil Dead Rise, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
About the New Zealand Screen Production Grant
Evil Dead Rise utilised the New Zealand Screen Production Grant – (International grant)
The New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) for International Productions is part of the New Zealand Government’s screen incentives scheme, which includes the Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) Grant. Eligible productions can access a cash rebate on Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure (QNZPE).
The baseline International grant is 20% of QNZPE. For PDV productions, the grant is 20% of QNZPE up to NZ$25million, thereafter 18% of QNZPE NZ$25million and above.
Find out more here
About Official co-productions
Evil Dead Rise is also an Official New Zealand - Ireland Co-Production.
Official co-productions are film and television projects made in accordance with treaties or other formal agreements between New Zealand and other countries.
They are an increasingly attractive option for many producers. There are many potential benefits of official co-productions, including the sharing of creative and technical resources. Other benefits include:
access to local and foreign incentives and subsidies
access to the domestic market of the other co-producer(s)
the ability to pool financial resources
the ability to share the associated financial risk
the ability to deliver projects of larger scale
Find out more here
Evil Dead Rise tells a twisted tale of two estranged sisters, played by Sutherland and Sullivan, whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.
Evil Dead Rise is in NZ cinemas now.