(FANTASIA 2020) FILM REVIEW: HAIL TO THE DEADITES is a love letter about the positive aspects of fandom.


Director Steve Villeneuve’s documentary examines the fan culture and appreciation for the Sam Raimi EVIL DEAD film series but finds a lot of heart in appreciation for the gore-soaked horror classics.

I think most people have a favorite film. A specific film that seems to speak to them or to a certain point in their life that defines a happy time or triggers an appreciation for a new genre. It might even be a film that helped them get through an emotional rough patch or awakened a new point of vibrancy from a cloud of despair. For some people, those films might be something like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Superman. But, for the subjects of Steve Villeneuve’s documentary HAIL TO THE DEADITES, those films might be the Sam Raimi helmed classic EVIL DEAD film series starring Bruce Campbell as the all-swagger and bravado chainsaw-armed Ash Williams, who finds himself up against an evil army of the undead awakened by an ancient Lovecraftian tome in the confines of a cabin in the woods. What is it about the sometimes cheesy nature of these films that captures the imagination of fans enough to compel them to celebrate it through conventions, art, travel, and cosplay? Villeneuve and his crew set out to explore the film’s fandom and spotlight what it means to be a hardcore fan of a particular series that isn’t Star Trek or Star Wars and what does that actually look like?

To Villeneuve’s credit, HAIL TO THE DEADITES looks at individuals who celebrate the film in their own way and how that fandom has empowered them and made them come out of their shell. From a girl whose collection of Evil Dead action figures and memorabilia inspired her to reach out and make friends in the community, to Tom Sullivan, whose production design and artwork inspired a fan who was planning a horror convention to spotlight his work and show the behind the scenes aspects to fans who might now know the human face behind an important prop that defined the film. HAIL TO THE DEADITES also looks at the people behind the characters on the screen, including a candid interview with the face of the franchise Bruce Campbell. Campbell embraces the force of fandom that comes with playing such an iconic character for the horror fan subculture and talks about how the relationship between fans and creators can be a positive one. He shares a story about a fan interaction with Nick Cassavettes’ regular Gena Rowlands showed him that if the two-way street between fan and creator is a positive one, it can fuel the creative. We also see how Campbell has supported fans of the franchise in hard times. It makes a strong case that fandom can be a beacon to those who need it and there is something strong and palpable in the community; even if that community is founded around an appreciation for sawing heads off of zombies.

Overall, HAIL TO THE DEADITES is a love letter to fans of subculture fandom. From obscure horror films to memorabilia collectors, fans look to find a way to own part of what they love and HAIL TO THE DEADITES shows that love can be a pure and positive force that empowers them and creators alike.