The original Evil Dead was not only a worldwide hit, but it could be said the movie inspired quite a few films that used the “Evil Dead Plugin Formula” with varying degrees of success. That formula could be summarized as: At a ______ in _____ a _____ causes people to turn into hideous monstrosities that spend the rest of the movie killing off the other cast members in various blood-soaked and black-humored ways.
In other words, for The Evil Dead it would be “At a *remote cabin* in *the Tennessee mountains* a *translated incantation from an ancient text* causes people to … etc”
To provide just a few examples from films that came later:
Demons – At a *movie theater* in *Italy* a *subliminal message in a horror film* causes people to … etc.
Demons II – At a *high-rise building* in *Italy* a *subliminal message in a documentary about the events of the first film* causes people to … etc
And for Rabid Grannies it would go “At a *remote mansion* in *Belgium* a * Satanic gift from a devil worshipper* causes people to … etc.” None of that is meant as a complaint, really, just a nice shorthand way of providing the general outline of this movie before tackling a few specifics.
Rabid Grannies has the distinction of being the first independent film production in Belgian history, with all the massive cultural cache that carries with it. (rimshot) The “grannies” of the title are Victoria (Ann Marie Fox) and Elizabeth (Danielle Daven) Remington, who celebrate their birthdays jointly each year with a dinner party at their sprawling, appropriately creepy mansion. This event is attended by their clutching, avaricious younger relatives, all of them wanting to stay in the two grannies’ good graces hoping they’ll be generously remembered in their will.
Most of the invitees are the kind of broadly-drawn, unpleasant and unappealing characters who make ideal horror movie fodder. (An arms dealer, a child-hating priest, a boastful womanizer, an uptight businesswoman, a slovenly businessman with a young trophy wife) There are a few children, servants and “nice” people thrown in and veteran filmgoers will smugly assume they know exactly who will and won’t survive the bloody night of horror to come.
Forget that. Not even children are spared by the hellish forces that are unleashed. A devil-worshipping nephew of our grannies has been cut off by the wealthy matriarchs and he sends a gift as an alleged peace-offering to them. This gift is an antique box that, when opened, releases infernal mist that turns Elizabeth and Victoria into monsters from Hell … monsters who begin preying on the assembled guests regardless of age or moral virtue.
The transformation of the ladies is ongoing throughout the film, like with some of the possessed cabin-goers in The Evil Dead, and are presented with special effects impressive even to hardcore horror fans. Less hardy viewers may have their stomachs turned by what the women look like as they metamorphose into truly infernal creatures.
It will be hard not to continually think of The Evil Dead series as you watch this film, which plays almost like a hybrid of the first two films in that trilogy complete with amply flowing blood and vomit, dismembered body parts and very dark slapstick humor amid the carnage.
This film is a rare example of the edited version doing absolutely no justice to the movie because the cut violence (including a bloody and prolonged bit with a man getting his rectum and then his intestines eaten out by one of the demonoid grannies) is removed so inexpertly that the film visibly jumps in that scene! One other edit is so awkward that viewers may be left confused as to what exactly happened and if the characters involved are still alive or not. Some of the more graphic violence against children is removed, too, which is odd since Troma leaves the orgy of child-killing at the end of their film Beware! Children At Play intact.
Rabid Grannies is mostly a film about monsters stalking and slaying, but there is also a nice bit of psychological horror featuring the grannies and the less than compassionate priest. The two demonoids have him cornered, but he’s holding the machine gun that another victim tried using on the grannies – with no effect of course. The sadistic creatures toy with the priest, giving him a choice of quickly taking his own life with the machine gun and therefore going to Hell, or enduring the horrifically slow and painful death they tell him they will inflict on him, but saving his immortal soul.
This film is a real treat that has an undeserved reputation as a cheesy bomb because of its stateside release under the Troma flag and because of the dvd cover featuring two old women in cheap horror makeup. Those ladies look nowhere near as disgusting and creepy as the transformed Elizabeth and Victoria look, and when this DVD cover shows up on some online searches for this title many potential viewers are put off by what looks like a cheapo horror flick.
Want to trick some of your horror-hating friends into watching this baby? Well, remember how the grannies are named Elizabeth and Victoria? Tell those friends it’s really an artsy European political satire about western imperialism and it’s just masquerading as a horror film. When the mayhem starts and the blood and vomit begin flowing you can look at them straight-faced and say “What? It’s clearly a metaphor about how the oppressive nature of capitalism sows the seeds of its own ultimate demise.” Your get-together won’t be as blood-soaked as the one in Rabid Grannies but it might get pretty close.