Director – Ryan Meade (Bong Fly, Cosmos Locos)
Starring – Tom Sullivan (The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II), Betsy Baker (The Evil Dead, Witches’ Night), and Josh Becker (Army of Darkness, Evil Dead II)
Release Date – 2014
Rating – 4/5
Tagline – “The true story of an epic artist”
When I was a kid, around 5 or 6, my mother forced me to watch movies. She was mentally ill and a few years later should would walk out of our home in the early morning hours leaving my sister and I there alone. She attached herself to religion like most with mental health issues and forced my sister and I to watch certain movies over and over again. Two of those movies were Gold Told Me To and Evil Dead II. I have no idea why we were forced to watch these movies but she would constantly play these two tapes over and over again. By the time I was a teenager I had seen the film several hundred times and could watch it 100 more just like it was my first time.
Several years back director Ryan Meade worked with effects artist Tom Sullivan on a documentary about his involvement with Sam Raimi and the first two Evil Dead films. Invaluable is one I had been meaning to grab for sometimes and I recently was able to grab a copy to add to my collection. Glad I did because it was a very enjoyable documentary.
**Spoiler Alert**The documentary focuses on the life and work of effects artist Tom Sullivan. Sullivan showed an interest in stop motion and sculpting at an early age. This stuck with him and while attending college he became friends with Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, and several others. It was then that Tom got involved in doing effects and artwork for Sam and other local directors before they moved on to The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. We also get a closer look at Sullivan’s home life and how working on these iconic films strained his relationship with his wife who then passed away. **Spoiler Alert**
I’ve been a huge fan of Raimi’s Evil Dead Trilogy for as long as I remember. I grew up living on Evil Dead II regardless if it was a forced watch or not. I watch all three films several times a year and now Ash vs. Evil Dead is something I often revisit when I finish the show. Everyone gives credit to Raimi, Campbell, and the rest of the cast for giving the world these amazing films but it’s Sullivan’s hand and skill that makes the movies so fucking enjoyable. This documentary was a long time coming and very deserving.
The interviews in this one are great and highly informative but we seem to be seeing things one sided. We have Sullivan going through his life and career in great detail but then we jump to others that have worked with him for short spurts of their interview but not all of them are able to deliver an interview that in depth. Some are at conventions or festivals and are quickly answering questions in between greeting fans. It’s great that we are getting all this camera time with Sullivan but it would be more beneficial to have these individuals confirming all these aspects of Sullivan’s life. With that being said, I fucking love all the little stories and behind the scene scenarios that Sullivan was giving viewers. I’ve met him several times at Cinema Wasteland and he is such a kind soul so hearing his stories on the screen only adds to my admiration.
The documentary approaches each topic chronologically. We move year after year through his life which really makes it easier for the viewer to enjoy that way. We learn so much about Sullivan that we would never know from just watching the small featurettes that typically accompany the film on the special features.
Finally, this one is edited together very nicely. We get smooth transitions between topics and the addition of archival interviews, videos, and unreleased videos makes it a very informative and fun watch. Overall, Invaluable is a must for any Evil Dead fan. The movie doesn’t focus on the effects and how he did it but so on the man that rarely gets the credit he truly deserves. This one is a must see for any horror fan. Check it out.