Color, 1995, 98 mins. 49 secs. / 93 mins. 9 secs.
Directed by Anders Jacobsson
Starring Johan Rudebeck, Per Löfberg, Olof Rhodin, Camela Leierth, Gert Fylking
Arrow Video (Blu-ray & DVD) (US/UK RA/B HD/NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9), Allumination, Image (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.66:1)

Evil Ed

Evil EdBearing not relation to the beloved character from Fright Night, this gory Swedish black comedy from the height of the VHS terror boom caught a lot of attention with its graphic, head-splitting cover art, which ensured it was a hot rental item for quite a while. The film actually falls into the strange subgenre of horror films about the homicidal effects of being around movie violence too much, which has also been tackled in everything from A Cat in the Brain to Berberian Sound Studio (with very different results). Here it's played for sick Troma-style laughs ladled in Evil Dead levels of fake blood, which helped it stand out during one of the darkest, dullest periods in horror cinema.

When a splotchy-faced editor goes completely berserk at work and starts flinging celluloid around everywhere after locking himself in, the studio is forced to break through the door with an acetylene torch-- just in time for him to bite down on a grenade and blow his skull all over the room. That means a new job opening, so meek, bespectacled Ed (Rudebeck) is sent to report to duty for Samuel Campbell at the Splatter & Gore Department. The office is an orgiastic den of techno music, tight dresses, and sexism as they turn out the massively successful Loose Limbs horror series, which pushes the legal restrictions on violence to the limit. Subjected to insane variations on every kind of commercial horror film imaginable, Ed begins to lose his grip on reality and embark on a rampage of mutilation and mayhem.Evil Ed

Not to be taken seriously for one second, Evil Ed isn't a particularly well-crafted or clever film; however, it's an invaluable snapshot of the genre scene at a weird time when fanzines and fandom were escalating to new heights even as fans were left scurrying to video stores instead of movie theaters to get their latest fix the majority of Evil Edthe time. As a commentary on Sweden's censorship system (and, by extension, the ongoing persecution of horror films in general in many westernized countries), it's also a useful portrait of a moment in time before the entire film ratings system in that country underwent a complete overhaul one year later.

Evil Ed has been available on and off in a variety of editions over the years, usually in its standard unrated theatrical cut with either a full frame or flat matted (1.66:1) version sourced for a handful of VHS and DVD releases over the years. However, none of those can even come within mile of the deluxe Arrow Video release in the U.S. and the U.K., a dual-format release containing a Blu-ray, a DVD, and a bonus disc (more on that below). The 16mm-shot film has been given a substantial overhaul here and looks great, with the numerous scenes shot in heavy blue lighting with deep shadows now looking much more coherent and stylish than before. It's not a particularly slick or pretty film, of course, but the considerable labor that went into refurbishing the film for HD has definitely proven a worthy cause. It's worth pointing out that the "Special Ed-ition" label slapped on the release extends to the main playback option of the film itself, which has been retooled and expanded slightly (including that extra designation on the title card) with some tweaking to the editing montage, the reinstating of a few scenes originally rejected because of some technical issues (like a really bad wig), and a little more editorial and audio synch finessing here and there. The film can also be played with a very giggly and rambling intro by director Anders Jacobsson and actor/co-producer "Doc," mainly talking about how much effort they put into assembling this special edition and urging viewers to watch the film before the extras (which should go without saying, but you never know).Evil Ed

As for extras, the first disc has plenty. "You Keep 'Em Heads Rollin'" (45m32s) is mainly organized around comments from Jacobsson with, well, virtually everyone Evil Edelse who worked on the film popping up and some point or another recalling how they worked to "make a film with no money, equipment or script," with a video store visit playing a key role in casting the lead and few people having a clear idea of what the entire film entailed. Storyboards, lots of VHS behind-the-scenes footage, and other goodies are studded throughout as well, including a ton of production shots. "Before Ed" (9m47s) takes a quick, goofy look at some VHS-shot projects by the director and crew members with a handful of very lo-fi excerpts from shots like "The Day of the Easterlily" and "Resurrection of Michael Myers" among anecdotes about their early days and inspiration from filmmakers like Sam Raimi, while "Beyond Ed" (10m13s) covers their work after this film with projects like The Unknown (a handheld Dogme-inspired monster movie) and a failed TV pilot. The creation of the new cut of the film is covered in "Reconstructing Edward" (21m5s), which starts with the discovery of a batch of bonus scenes (reenacted, presumably) and follows the crew to a Stockholm film lab where they go through all the footage in a process from 2011 to 2016 creating the remastered special edition of the film. (Keep an eye out for how much their taste in movie posters Evil Edevolves over time, too.) Disc one closes out with seven trailers and teasers (Special Ed-ition, English trailer, two Swedish trailers and a teaser, and comical "Bergman" and "Nutty Professor" trailers) and an extensive gallery of promotional and production photos. Evil Ed

The second disc is a DVD replicating the contents of the first Blu-ray in SD, while the third (only available in the limited edition first pressing) has the original "de-specialized" version of the film for purists, running just over five minutes shorter. Both versions of the film have identical English-language options (the film was shot silent in English with the soundtrack created in post) in English DTS-HD MA 5.1 or LPCM 2.0 stereo options. "Lost in Brainland" (186m39m) is a ridiculously extended (as in Peter Jackson length) version of the making-of documentary, compiling so much interview and making-of material your head will feel like exploding after the first hour. Finally, "Bloopers" (4m41s) is basically the director and interviewees flubbing and cracking up a lot. Featuring a reversible sleeve option with a new cover design by Graham Humphreys, the set also includes a liner notes booklet.

Reviewed on May 27, 2017.