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Drag Me To Hell (free)

  • Vilas Hall 821 University Ave Madison, WI, 53706 United States (map)

Cinematographer Peter Deming visits in-person at this screening of Sam Raimi's 2009 return to horror. Tix/info

Cinematographer and UW-Madison alumnus Peter Deming got his start on Sam Raimi's beloved Evil Dead II and has been David Lynch's go-to behind the camera since Lost Highway: the latter collaboration includes all 18 episodes of the recently aired mindwarp Twin Peaks: The Return. Deming will be back at his alma mater to host a screening of Raimi's Drag Me To Hell and then settle in for a follow-up Q&A.

For Raimi's most devoted fans, Drag Me To Hell was a hotly anticipated feature at the time of its release. After nearly a decade of devoting his cinematic directorial efforts solely to the adventures of a man with spider-like abilities who was admittedly amazing, Raimi returned to the territory of scary movies. Depending on how one chooses to categorize some of the director's genre-mashing romps, the 2009 feature could be seen as Raimi's first foray into horror since his scrappy 1980s heyday, when he was still nailing cameras to planks of wood in order to pull off loopy visual tricks.

In Drag Me To Hell, Alison Lohman plays a bank employee who refuses a merciful loan extension to an elderly errant mortgagee (Lorna Raver). As happens from time to time, the cold-hearted business decision results in a curse being levied, and Lohman spends the remainder of the film grappling with supernatural hardships of escalating lunacy. Raimi evinces only the thinnest interest in plot, characterization, and the other fundamentals of narrative. But he's fully engaged in the giddy, gory play of the movie, lavishing clear affection on the various set pieces. It makes for an uneven film, but a sterling showcase of the crafty work of Deming and his cohorts. —Daniel Seeger