The Elvis Dead

★★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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The Elvis Dead
Published 16 Aug 2017

It's a genius idea: take the 1987 Sam Raimi film Evil Dead 2 and re-interpret it using the songs of Elvis Presley, and you're on to a winner. Well Rob Kemp is, as his basement room at the Fringe is selling out every night.

It's an inherently funny gimmick that doesn't drop a beat. One minute Kemp is crawling on the floor covered in blood trying to retrieve his zombie hand the next he's jumped back up regained his composure, lip curled and hip cocked ready to sing the next bastardised Elvis tune. Along the way there are chainsaws and quiffs, rifles and fringed shirts. It's a heady mix.

The song reworkings are skilfully done, splicing music and film together with punchlines all over the place. 'Jailhouse Rock' becomes 'Standing in a State of Shock' at the moment when the tape unleashes the naughty undead. 'My Baby Left Me... to run off into the woods' and, 'Devil in Disguise' – well the chorus of that one doesn't need much changing.

Key to this is that Kemp has an incredible voice. Many think they can do an Elvis impersonation but Kemp really can, belting out the tunes that oh so familiar baritone.

It's very much a group affair, the audience are actively encouraged to sing, stamp and clap along, gleefully shrieking when we recognise another song. Even if you haven't seen Evil Dead 2 the plot is generally familiar enough to anyone who has ever seen a horror film. And who hasn't heard of Elvis?