‘Evil Dead Rise’ Director Used 1,700 Gallons of Blood to Make the Year’s Goriest Movie: ‘I Wanted Blood to Be a Character’

Lee Cronin is very particular about blood.

Cronin, the Irish writer and director of “Evil Dead Rise,” the fifth feature installment in the cult horror series, lights up when discussing gore on set.

“We used 6,500 liters [1,717 gallons] of blood on the movie,” he said. “That is real, sticky, cooked movie blood. We had to hire out this industrial kitchen to cook the blood and keep it fresh, be able to heat it up, because characters are covered in it. There was a lot of management of liquid in this movie. I wanted blood to be a character, so it was important we got the viscosity and look just right.”

Beyond that, Cronin was keen to keep every element of the produc- tion top-notch, given the legacy of Sam Raimi’s series. Before Raimi was a blockbuster name, helming the “Spider-Man” trilogy of the 2000s and VFX-heavy projects like 2022’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” he got his start directing the 1981 microbudget hit “The Evil Dead.” Focusing on Dead-ites (demons that inhabit bodies) that are unleashed by reading from a version of the Book of the Dead, the malleable premise spawned two direct sequels, a spinoff series, a 2013 reboot, video games, comic books and even a musical.

Although Cronin had helmed only one full-length feature — 2019’s well-received “The Hole in the Ground” — the directors worked together on the Quibi anthology series “50 States of Fright,” which led Raimi to en- courage Cronin to pitch his take on the “Evil Dead” series. After developing the idea with Raimi collaborator Romel Adam, Cronin had what he calls his “Hollywood moment” in a brief pitch meeting.

“I met with [producer] Rob Tap- ert and Sam in L.A. and gave them the pillars of the story,” he says. “I had the conversation in a room with them for 15 minutes and left. My agents rang me and said, ‘“Evil Dead” is yours.’ And I’m like, ‘What does that mean?’ And they said, ‘It’s yours to lose if you don’t get it right.’ So then you really have to double down to start writing.”

In terms of the story, “Rise” goes in wildly different directions from previous chapters while retaining the gonzo vibe. The first two “Evil Dead” movies centered on leading man Bruce Campbell battling evil in a cabin in the woods. Cronin’s vision is, at its core, a heartfelt story about a mother, her sister and her three children fighting for survival in a large apartment complex. Despite the changes, Cronin says Raimi had one key piece of advice for fitting into the “Evil Dead” world.

“Sam is a really good, simple communicator,” Cronin says. “His advice: Make sure the Dea- dites are really scary and use the book. My answer was ‘Of course.’ It’s an interesting insight into Sam and his trust when he hires a filmmaker. He wasn’t making the assumption that I’d do those things; he just wanted me to tell my story my way.”

But the ultimate seal of approval for an “Evil Dead” movie is scaring the shit out of audiences. At last month’s rowdy SXSW world premiere, crowd reactions proved that Cronin delivered — and horror Twitter hasn’t stopped buzzing.

“I watched at the European premiere last night and sat in a room of people that were so terrified, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, this film is so hardcore. I can’t believe what I’ve done here. I feel really bad for everybody in the room,’” Cronin says.

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