Film: Double Bill - Jake West, Director of 'Razor Blade Smile', on his Ideal Cinematic Pairing

THE EVIL DEAD DIR. SAM RAIMI (1980) A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH DIR. POWELL AND PRESSBURGER (1946)
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The Independent Culture
MY CHOICE is quite eclectic. The Evil Dead is the classic low- budget horror movie, shot on 16mm by a director who, at 19, was very young.

A bunch of kids are staying in a log cabin deep in the woods and find a recording of demonic incantations that raise evil spirits and possess the gang. The horror is full on; make-up and gore, very energetic and loads of fun.

It was banned in England as a video nasty under the 1984 Video Recordings Act, which is ironic, as it was released by Palace Pictures, now Scala Productions, makers of some of the best independent British films.

What is particularly fascinating and personally inspiring is its very young director. I wasn't ready for another seven years (at 26). He was one of the first to raise finances with a group of friends, so it's a real home-grown, grassroots movie.

Also, what particularly strikes me about the film is the DIY camera techniques; special camera rigs, the film under-cranked at a slower frame rate and what Raimi called "the shaky cam", a camera mounted on a long piece of wood with a wide-angle lens. It was used in the scene where they run through the woods and the camera glides and floats as if shot from the view of the evil presence.

A Matter of Life and Death was made by Michael Powell, the best British film-maker of all time (in my opinion, although unfortunately he is quite forgotten). Pressburger and Powell shared credit, but Powell was mainly the director and Pressburger the writer. It's a very unusual collaboration in cinema and the first of its kind.

The film has got the most incredible opening sequence for its time; in space the camera glides across the universe and a very amusing voice-over goes, "big, isn't it?". The camera then homes in on our little world and ends up in a Lancashire bomber about to crash.

There are some stunning scenes. For instance, the hallucination of a strange 18th-century dandy type who takes the pilot to the "other" world is shot in spectacular black and white, so you get these incredible transitions from colour to monochrome. It's actually shot on Technicolor but comes out black and white through an experimental process of printing on monochrome.

It's an incredible work of the imagination, so rich and humane. The subtexts point to its age; the romance showed Anglo-American relations could work, it depicted an England in a more innocent time and dealt with very potent and timely images of death. It's amazing that people no longer think that it is a landmark movie.

The Evil Dead doesn't have social implications or meaning. To see these two films together shows that film is flexible. I think people like to pigeonhole taste and only watch a certain type. But that's just intellectual snobbery.

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