The MSO’s live performance of ‘The Evil Dead’ was a show for the ages

The MSO’s live performance of ‘The Evil Dead’ was a show for the ages

Evil Dead
Words by Chris Swan

The MSO nails it again.

While the crowds gathered outside Luna Park for their Spooktober night of fun, the real Halloween party was happening next door at the Palais Theatre as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra took to the stage to perform one of the biggest cult horror films ever, The Evil Dead.

For the uninitiated, Sam Raimi’s classic 1981 film tells the story of five college students who head to a cabin in the woods for a weekend away. In the cellar, they find the Necronomicon Ex Mortis (roughly translated, The Book of The Dead) and unleash a hellish string of demonic forces upon themselves and the surrounding woods. Filled with Raimi’s trademark visual style and slapstick humour, it’s the perfect gory Halloween film to be watched with a group of friends on the couch or with a crowd of fans in a massive St Kilda theatre.


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Providing an extra treat for fans, conductor Brett Kelly and the talented musicians from the MSO were joined on stage by the film’s original composer, Joe LoDuca, who joined the company on keyboard and guitar. Introducing the film, LoDuca explained how he first got involved with Raimi, producer Rob Tapert and star Bruce Campbell as a student in Michigan in the early ’80s, before breaking down what was in store for the evening. Having nearly 100 credits to his name, LoDuca has returned to his first film score and reimagined it to make it bigger and better.

From the second the film began, the audience was on board. Spontaneous bouts of laughter and cheering erupted from every axe swing and bad line reading. Even the orchestra members were getting into the spirit of it, watching the screen with big smiles on their faces while Ash frantically hacks away at his possessed friends.

The performance by the small group of MSO members was top-notch, with the newly reimagined score providing a more strings-heavy, traditional horror flavour to the classic soundtrack. Balancing the tone between the horrific and playful moments, the new orchestration truly enhanced the film and the audience showed their appreciation with rapturous applause after each piece of music. One highlight was the incredible sequence where Ash ventures into the cellar accompanied by light-hearted ragtime music.

It truly was an event for the fans of the series, with pieces from Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness (also composed by LoDuca) playing during intermission. Diehard devotees of the franchise sat alongside those newly acquainted, all revelling in the hilariously over-the-top gore and creativity presented on the screen.

LoDuca’s brilliant and bombastic reimagined score, presented alongside a brand new 4K rendition of the film (overseen by Raimi), made this the ultimate way to experience “the ultimate experience in gruelling terror”. Accompanied by a brilliant performance from the immensely talented performers, The Evil Dead marks another fantastic entry into the wonderful series of live film scores brought to life by the MSO.

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