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'Evil Dead' has added a video game to the cult-classic horror franchise

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

It's one of the great cult classic horror franchises. "The Evil Dead" first hit the big screen in 1981. Since then, there have been sequels, a TV show, a musical and, now, a video game. NPR's Vincent Acovino spoke with the team behind Evil Dead: The Game about how to adapt a classic movie world to an interactive one while preserving what fans love about it.

VINCENT ACOVINO, BYLINE: Like so many horror movies you've seen before, it all starts in a haunted cabin in the woods.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE EVIL DEAD")

BETSY BAKER: (As Linda) Hey, Scotty, what's this place like, anyway?

RICHARD DEMANINCOR: (As Scott) Well, the guy that's renting it says it's an old place, a little run-down...

ACOVINO: But this wasn't any old horror franchise. Each movie got weirder and more over-the-top. In "Evil Dead II," the main character, Ash, sits down in a chair. It breaks.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHAIR BREAKING)

ACOVINO: The deer head mounted on the wall turns toward Ash and starts laughing...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EVIL DEAD II")

WILLIAM PRESTON ROBERTSON: (As The Deer Head, laughter).

ACOVINO: ...Along with everything else in the room - the lamp, the clocks. Eventually, even Ash himself joins in.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EVIL DEAD II")

BRUCE CAMPBELL: (As Ash Williams, laughter).

ACOVINO: It's a series known for its scares and laughs. And composer Joseph LoDuca says that mix is unmistakably "Evil Dead."

JOSEPH LODUCA: The Three Stooges influence is very apparent, but the music plays it straight, and I think that that's what helps the absurdity of what gets introduced.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ACOVINO: He's been composing for the series since the very first movie.

LODUCA: I was still in school at the time. What I had at my disposal for the budget that we had was to record in a little attic studio. I had four string players and anything else that I could grab and bang on. It was spit and glue.

ACOVINO: LoDuca is back writing the main theme for Evil Dead: The Game, and maintaining that balance between spooky and comic is one way this game feels like what's come before it.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOSEPH LODUCA'S "MAIN TITLE (FROM EVIL DEAD: THE GAME)")

ACOVINO: Also important is maintaining the actual voice of the series itself. A slew of cast members are back to reclaim their roles, including Bruce Campbell, who played the protagonist, Ash, in the original trilogy.

(SOUNDBITE OF GAME, "EVIL DEAD: THE GAME")

CAMPBELL: (As Ash Williams) I've been called a lot of things - El Jefe, the savior of humanity, the boomstick butcher with the chainsaw hand. The truth is, I'm just your everyday, charming, ruggedly handsome dude from Michigan.

CRAIG SHERMAN: Working with Bruce was, I feel like, a huge step forward, for me at least.

ACOVINO: Craig Sherman is the game's head writer.

SHERMAN: When his voice got into the game, it really started to feel like an "Evil Dead" game. He did change some of the dialogue because, you know, he knows the character. And he would say, you know, I feel like Ash would say it this way. And, of course, we're never going to tell Bruce Campbell what Ash should say 'cause he's Ash.

(SOUNDBITE OF GAME, "EVIL DEAD: THE GAME")

CAMPBELL: (As Ash Williams) Bad news - we lost a fighter. Good news - it wasn't me.

ACOVINO: The iconic cabin-in-the-woods setting is back in the game, too, but designing for a 3D space is a little different than a movie on a screen. Steve Molitz worked with the sound design team when he scored the music for the game.

STEVE MOLITZ: It's a lot of fun to sit with individual files for wind...

(SOUNDBITE OF WIND BLOWING)

MOLITZ: ...The creaking of iconic cabin in the woods...

(SOUNDBITE OF WOOD CREAKING)

MOLITZ: ...The swamp.

(SOUNDBITE OF SWAMP BUBBLING)

MOLITZ: Once you start to put them together and play with panning so that it's surrounding the player, that's when the magic happens.

(SOUNDBITE OF WIND BLOWING, WOOD CREAKING AND SWAMP BUBBLING)

ACOVINO: These sounds and the game's brand-new music tracks shift and change based on whatever the player is experiencing.

MOLITZ: If you're exploring, the music is going to be more of an ambient drone.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MOLITZ: As you start to encounter enemies - maybe some Deadites spawn on a hillside as you're walking through the forest - now, suddenly the music swells and ramps up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC)

ACOVINO: For Molitz and the team, the whole project really is an exercise in staying true to what came before it.

MOLITZ: I think players will be able to hear all the time and passion that went into this. It really is a love letter to "Evil Dead" and to the fans.

ACOVINO: And Joseph LoDuca says it's unbelievable to think the first thing he worked on is still alive to this day - not just for long-time fans, but a whole generation of new ones.

LODUCA: You can't kill it.

ACOVINO: Vincent Acovino, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.