Evil Dead in Concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – Live Review

It’s Halloween (October 31st), it’s unusually warm at 35 degrees and the Palais Theatre is hosting a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra showing of the 1981 Sam Raimi classic, The Evil Dead.

Walking through the doors I was flooded with air-conditioning and the atmosphere set with the theatre bathed in dimly lit dark blue and blood red lights. As I sat down for my first Melbourne Symphony Orchestra film concert experience, the stage was set with members from MSO and a huge screen above them with the iconic poster from the film. As the theatre started to fill with audience members dressed up for Halloween, ready for a show, I had no idea that I was about to be transported back to a classic film that terrified me as a child, now enhanced by a live orchestra and reworked score by composer Joe LoDuca.

As conductor Brett Kelly took to the stage to introduce the orchestra and film’s original composer, you could feel the excitement and tension building as Joe LoDuca confirmed that the score we would hear would be familiar but has undergone a re-master along with the 4K digitisation of the film itself. The MSO ensemble took their places, Brett Kelly introduced the amount of work that has gone into putting the show together with some special guests from Malaysia rounding out the orchestra. LoDuca introduced the film and praised MSO’s commitment to putting everything together in such a short amount of time. The lights dimmed, the orchestra swelled, and I was ready for my first movie MSO experience.

As the overture swelled recreating the classic Evil Dead theme, the screen burst to life with Raimi’s film following five college students on holiday in an isolated cabin in the woods, with the score filling every inch of the Palais Theatre. The experience was unlike any other and it really educated me on how important a score is to a film. So many times watching movies, we recall that we love the characters, the dialogue, the CGI and the special effects, but we often forget the importance of the music. Yet seeing a film with a live orchestra completely elevated the movie experience into something so incredibly special, to the point that I want all my future movie viewings to be like this.

The lighting of the stage was coloured and synchronised with the film and music to flash red during the bloody moments and would project shades of dim dark blue when characters traipse through the smoky forest and wilderness. This created the most immersive experience I’ve ever had with a film, and the horror film concert taking place on Halloween was such a treat. Audience participation was encouraged with roaring applause at every kill and iconic line like when Richard DeManincor‘s Scott says to Bruce Campbell‘s now ionic Evil Dead series character, “You’re not gonna leave me here, are you? Are ya, Ash?

Composer Joe LoDuca has lovingly re-created the score to still retain the quality of the original film while adding in new effects, sounds with a fleshed-out score that has only developed over time as the movie has as well, which now is an iconic cult horror classic. If the movie alone wasn’t enough to entertain you, the sheer precision of the MSO ensemble is nothing short of brilliant. The fierce intensity and passion of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra was easily displayed in various scenes, putting a melody to moments of suspense, anticipation and fear. Watching the MSO play in sync with the screen was captivating, especially while LoDuca commanded the audience’s attention when switching between instruments (keyboards) and grinning proudly as the audience cheered and applauded at his efforts.

There really is no comparison to this experience in seeing a film accompanied with a live orchestra. So much love and precision has been put into this concert and it shows. Having Evil Dead Live in Concert hosted at the Palais on Halloween and bringing in the film’s composer Joe LoDuca to be a part of it all contributed to an incredibly memorable Halloween event that won’t be forgotten. If the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra can please attend and be a part of all my future movie screenings, that would be fantastic! Unfortunately, the Evil Dead performance was only a one off show. However, if you ever get a chance to attend a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra film concert, it is well worth your money, time and applause.

For more information on the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, visit: https://www.mso.com.au

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