Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The One You Would Have Saved: Evil Dead: Cheryl

For those of you unfamiliar with the respected horror blogger Arbogast (For shame) he has a recently revived reoccurring column involving horror characters that even a lot as pitiless as the horror fan would spare. Like I said, he’s brought it shambling back from the grave, so I gleefully took the chance to participate. Taking the chance to talk about Evil Dead, which face it, never takes much prompting for me.

Is there a character in a horror film with worst luck then Cheryl in Evil Dead? Even if the woods hadn’t been infested with Kandarian Demons its doubtful that she would have had much of a good time. After all here she is on a lover’s weekend, tagging along with her brother without a date, destined to play the fifth wheel and party to many, many uncomfortable silences.

Of course what should have been merely awkward and unpleasant soon turns downright nasty when she comes on the wrong end of some amorous trees. Her rape at the hands of the foliage, like the talking asshole in Pink Flamingos, still has the unlikely power to shock in our desensitized age. In a series known for its campy laughs and gore cartoon thrills, there’s something pervasively and perversely wrong about that scene. And it has enough power to provide a residual sinister edge to three films, no matter how silly the on goings get.

Now normally getting raped by the woods would be the low point for any young girl’s weekend. But things keep getting worse for old Cheryl. She gets to play the inevitable role of horror film Cassandra to her friends and relations (perhaps the movies one real flaw is that Ash is apparently the world's least protective and concerned older brother), treated as crazy despite the fact that she’s been obviously traumatized. She’s soon possessed by a demon, and goes on the attack, Ends up
thrown in the fire, and then unceremoniously dumped in the fruit cellar.

Eventually breaking free, she ends up shot, stabbed, burned, before eventually exploding in the most gleeful and gloriously gross display of Stop Motion I’ve ever seen. (The way that Raimi and Co keep piling it on, brings to mind that Ellen Sandweiss was a childhood friend of Raimi, Tapert, and Campbell. Her scenes often have the naughty sniggering air of schoolboys dipping a girl’s pigtails in ink.)

So yes Cheryl, you got good and screwed. Because of the humilation, and the degrigation and the pitiless way that fate stepped out of its way to boot you in the ass again and again and again, I would have spared you Cheryl. Sadly of course I can't. Like the Lamia, once the Deadites mark you as theirs there is nothing you can do. Unless you are a giant chinned man with a chainsaw for an arm and the heart of a true smartass. Which you weren’t Cheryl. Just a seemingly nice enough person to whom fate dealt a real shit hand. Join the club.


Arbogast said...

A good choice... in fact, I spent a little bit of time looking for a picture of Ellen Sandwiess on the 'net to illustrate my renewed call to arms but didn't come up with anything satisfying. Otherwise, I share your pain because the Jewish girls always did send me, dead or alive or somewhere in between.

Bryce Wilson said...

Thanks Arbo. And thanks for doing it again. Twas a real honor.

Elwood Jones said...

Cool post and has also inspired me to start scrawling my own answer to this question, with Cpl. Ferro in "Aliens".

True this might have alot to do with my on going obsession with Colette Hiller

The Groundskeeper said...

Nice entry. The further tragedy is that the full weight of Ash's grieving in the sequels is completely reserved for girlfriend Linda with nary a thought spared for poor Cheryl.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Elwood: Good call on Ferro. Looking forward to reading it.

@ Groundskeeper: Excellent point as well. Ash really IS the world's worst big brother. lol.

Marcus said...

Well, that's because, technically in the sequel, he didn't have a sister

Bryce Wilson said...

Eh phooey. Prologues don't count as canon. The second starts as soon as "The Force" hits him.

日月神教-向左使 said...
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