Vampires are passé these days; it's zombies that are all the rage. With the popularity of AMC's Walking Dead series, the prevalence of city-sanctioned zombie walks in every major town across the country, and the recent 2013 remake of the cult classic Evil Dead, the wobbling undead are experiencing a resurgence in pop culture like never before.
And what could signify that these once-living hobblers are at the zenith of their popularity more than the fact that people are flocking to see them sing, dance, and run bloody amok in a musical theatrical production?
Yes, it's true, highly improbable though it may seem: Sam Raimi's cult classic Evil Dead franchise has been reinterpreted for the stage as Evil Dead: The Musical. Turns out, this ghoulish theatrical creation is quite the hit.
First brought to life (or would "exhumed" be more appropriate?) back in 2003 in Toronto by a group of hard-core Evil Deadheads, the production grew from a 90-seat theater to a prosperous stint off-Broadway just three years later. Returning home to Toronto in 2007, the smashing revival production went on to have a successful two-year run in that city's famed Diesel Playhouse -- making it the longest-running musical theatrical presentation in Canada's history.
And from there, in a fashion similar to the virus that turns humans into mindless creepy crawlers in the Walking Dead, the musical's campy infectiousness spread like gangbusters. More than 150 re-creations of this show have been made across the world, from South Korea to Cleveland and from Japan to New York City.
Currently on its first North American tour, the show is based largely on the plot of the original Evil Dead, taking fluid liberties from Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. Don't worry: There is just enough validity here to win the admiration of Evil Dead purists (heck, producers have even re-created the movie's famed tree rape scene, much to the delight of fans). But where the original movies were kitschy and tongue-in-cheek, the musical expands on the over-the-top nature, with more raunchy gags, innuendos, and gratuitous gore than its celluloid predecessor. The New York Times even lauded this production as the next Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The story begins, as most horror flicks do, innocently enough, with five college students deciding to go party in an abandoned cabin in the woods. Unbeknown to them, Naturom Demonto, also known as the original version of the Book of the Dead, is hidden among the cabin's faulty pipes and flickering light bulbs. Despite clear warnings not to proceed, one of the characters finds said book and reads some of the text's scribbled English translations -- which unleashes an evil force that will ruin everyone's good time.