Imagine my surprise then when I discovered a horror movie! And one with a fractured twist of humor oh so characteristic of director/writer Sam Raimi, even if the marketing geniuses at Universal don’t seem to know it.
Yes, Universal knows how to market anything with a roman numeral, but give them a subversively comic horror flick with no franchise precedent and you’ve got an orphan even Angelina Jolie wouldn’t adopt.
Well, maybe she would. Along with my orphan socks.
The joke is on when Drag Me To Hell opens with folks speaking Spanish, which is almost a foreign language nowadays. From there, the ground opens and a boy is literally and aptly dragged to Hell.
“As dreadful as that sounds, it beats autoerotic asphyxiation,” said Raimi, peering at his brother Ted, who has been holding his breath in the hope of something automatically erotic since 1994.
Enter the Mac guy and Alison Lohman, for whom “PC” means “perfectly cute.”
Alson’s task is to suffer every indignity dreamt up by Raimi and his special effects team, usually involving the ingestion of foul bodily fluids, scores of insects, or both in the same disgusting cocktail. Since when does a SAG card need to be accompanied by a SAG barf bag?
Alison meets a weird old lady whose personal hygiene ranks somewhere between Lilly Munster and the Swamp Thing. She removes her teeth to eat a candy – and it’s too late for the candy to change its mind.
“You have staples in your head!” Alison screams at her.
“All the better to collate my thoughts!” sneers the old crone.
The elderly witch wants an extension on her mortgage payment because, surprisingly, being a horribly ugly and terrifying old biddy makes it tough to earn a living. But she is denied her wish and places a curse on Lohman, as if going wide opposite Pixar’s Up weren’t curse enough.
You know there’s a curse on when a fly lands on Alison’s face and strolls into one nostril and out the other – a level of access even TMZ can’t boast.
Beware the Black Goat! He, the taker of souls. As well as the eater of grass and the giver of goat cheese! Beware! For this goat shall take you to Hell – or at least a very hot petting zoo!
Naturally, Alison doesn’t want to lose her soul, marking a Hollywood first. “I don’t want to burn in Hell for eternity,” she said, “because in my profession eternity ends at age 40.”
Alison seeks the help of an Indian fortune teller as grateful for the business as he is not to be playing an Arab terrorist.
Look out! A terrifying handkerchief is fluttering about, threatening Alison’s visibility! And there it is again…and again! I don’t know who this handkerchief’s agent is, but Lou Diamond Phillips really wants to know.
Drag Me To Hell is a fun excursion into the kind of cult-comedy-horror that makes Raimi’s Evil Dead pictures such a joy.
Even if it is more fun seeing Bruce Campbell get tortured than cutesy Alison Lohman.