Fan edits existed before the Internet age, but they certainly have exploded with the rise of digital media and easier-to-use editing software. The most famous one that opened the floodgates was “The Phantom Edit,” in which one disgruntled Star Wars fan re-edited The Phantom Menace by removing most of the sillier aspects of Lucas’ folly to produce a shorter film with more menace and less Jar Jar. Originally distributed on VHS, this fan’s approach blew up when it hit the net and inspired countless other works for films like A.I. and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Beyond the ease of doing it (although it undoubtedly requires many hours of work), why are these fan edits so prevalent? For some fan editors, it’s a matter of changing (or impolitely ”correcting”) filmmakers’ works while for others it’s an exercise that either recontextualizes the film in some way or just provides a challenge that strengthens their editing skills.
Into this storied tradition enters Josh Roush, who has taken Sam Raimi’s films The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army Of Darkness and combined them into one long movie. This approach is similar to how Topher Grace re-edited all three Star Wars prequels into one giant film a couple of years ago (what is it with needing to constantly re-edit Star Wars prequels? It’s almost like they are flawed or something…). Roush isn’t critiquing Raimi’s films in any way with his edit; rather, he just noticed the possibility to create one epic tale without any breaks and decided to see how it would flow. The Evil Dead series is an interesting franchise that lends itself well to this gestalt approach as the first part of Evil Dead II basically recaps/remakes the first film with some changes (including to casting) and then the end of the film directly leads into Army Of Darkness (although again, the opening of Army Of Darkness slightly remakes Ash’s entrance to the medieval world). Roush did extensive work fitting various elements of the films together to create a framing device while trying to accommodate the various changes in casting and problems with continuity. In the following clip, he takes parts of all three films (along with dialogue from two Evil Dead video games) to refashion the intro to his epic retelling:
Over on his blog, Roush goes into extensive detail showing the various places in the films where he fit the seams together and his reasoning for those edits. He also put up a link on his site to download a low-res version of the complete 235 minutes long film for those who wish to view his final product or just like to watch Bruce Campbell getting hit with stuff for four hours.