New to Blu: Evil Ed: Special Ed-ition - Reviewed

Even if you've never seen Evil Ed before, just popping in this crisply transferred Arrow BD and having the menu grace your screen lets you know exactly what you're in for. If you've never heard the song titled "Doughnut Lady" (, don't worry, you will. Juxtaposed with images of bloody mayhem, the tone is jubilant and snarky before you even touch your remote. It sends you through the starting gate with a goofy grin.

Anders Jacobsson's feature film debut is sort of like repeatedly getting a pie in face for 90 minutes. It starts on a high note of surprise, but eventually overstays its welcome. Everything about this movie is in your face. One of the first characters we meet looks like former New Line Cinema producer Bob Shaye somehow had a baby with Jeff Goldblum. As if that wasn't enough, they sit his greasy ass right next to an Evil Dead 2 poster, and name him Sam Campbell. I would say that you can't make this stuff up, but apparently someone already did.

We have to digest that character, a shotgun suicide, and a production assistant with a welder before we even meet the eponymous Ed (Johan Rudebeck). He works for Garry Marshall's corpse as a film editor who gets called up to the big leagues by Sam (Raimi Bruce) Campbell. Ed's assignment: To work in peaceful seclusion on gutting the extreme violence from the studio's newest Loose Limbs movie so it'll pass muster with Sweden's notoriously strict film censorship board. Their policy forbid any sex or violence up until 1996; Evil Ed was released in 1995 to almost instant cult fandom. Coincidence?

As Ed begins his work on the film, that's when we're treated to one of the best aspects of this Special Ed-ition: An editing montage that was left out of the original theatrical release for reasons unknown to even the filmmakers. It shows Ed meticulously cutting reel after reel of (hysterically) gratuitous sex and violence for well over a week straight with no breaks. As a filmmaker who edits tons of video in his professional life, I can safely say that if I had to watch movies this terrible, I would lose my shit too. Film editing can be made to look easy by people who know what they're doing, but it's an arduous and relentlessly tedious process. What may pass in 30 seconds on the screen may have taken someone hours, or even days, of watching and re-watching the same footage.

"No one interrupts me while I'm watching porn!"
These fake exploitation vignettes we see Ed working on were the first things the director shot, and over the course of five years, eventually these short films became the backbone for Evil Ed as a feature. Each one of them plays like a tiny snuff project made by a cornball jester with a giant tongue planted firmly in his cheek while he beats you over the head with a squeaky toy hammer. The entire experience of watching Evil Ed is like that. And once Ed goes full Jack Torrance in the last half, there are numerous callbacks and quotable lines to chew on. The only things missing are character development, subtlety, and the kitchen sink. 

Those are also pretty much the only things missing from yet another quality Arrow restoration. Noise and grain levels are perfect, the details sharp and crisp. The sound quality is good for what it is, but when you're talking about a low-budget horror film that was completely dubbed in post with no production audio, you work with what you got -- some of the crappier ADR actually sprinkles a bit of charm on the whole affair. Bottom line: We still get a film that only cost $30,000 to make that looks like it cost $3 million. Best of all, the three-disc set is loaded with special features. A very entertaining behind the scenes documentary about the making of Evil Ed is the headliner. We learn more about the film crew's endeavors before and since making this little gem. There are also featurettes detailing the re-integration of six minutes of original footage into this new release, although the filmmakers insist during a very funny introduction, they did not go "full Lucas."

There's a time-tested cinematic axiom that says, "Never reference a better movie than the one I'm watching" Well, Jacobsson and company clearly did not get that memo. If you want a list of the movies the filmmakers sought to emulate, just jot down the names of all the posters you see littered throughout. You could turn it into a drinking game, and looking at it that way, Evil Ed: Special Ed-ition is a fun watch. It's ham-fisted in its direction, over-the-top in its execution, the performances make Ghost Rider Nic Cage look like Broken Flowers Bill Murray, but it's completely earnest in wanting to entertain the hell out of us. So if that was all Jacobsson, Doc, and the rest of the crew had in mind, then I say mission accomplished.


-- Blake O. Kleiner

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