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SYFY WIRE Cocaine Bear

Elizabeth Banks explains how 'Evil Dead' and 'Jurassic Park' influenced 'Cocaine Bear'

"I love gore. I think it's really fun. It's always struck me as very funny in a weird way."

By Josh Weiss
Jurassic Park (1993), Cocaine Bear (2023), The Evil Dead (1981)

In late 2022, Elizabeth Banks caught up with Empire to discuss her third directorial effort, Cocaine Bear (hitting theaters everywhere next week by way of Universal Pictures).

During that particular interview, Banks revealed the gonzo comedy film loosely based on a real-world incident was inspired by the films of Sam Raimi, Quentin Tarantino and the Cohen brothers. She didn't go into any further detail at the time, although it's not very difficult to understand why the director pointed to those fellow storytellers, all of whom are known for juggling dark comedy and unbridled violence.

RELATED: Elizabeth Banks keeps the severed 'Cocaine Bear' head prop in her home office as a souvenir

Banks elaborated on the project's cinematic touchstones during a recent conversation with Entertainment Weekly, citing Evil Dead as the biggest Raimi influence, "just in terms of tone," she explained. "You know, Sam has a great wink about what he does. I love gore. I think it's really fun. It's always struck me as very funny in a weird way. It's a trope of the genre that I wanted to play with in this case. I just didn't think we could make a movie about a rampaging bear on a bender without the gore. I mean, bears literally eat their prey alive."

It's all there in the title: what if a 600-pound apex predator ingested a large amount of cocaine and went on a bloody rampage? This idea of nature's uncaring brutality being unleashed on unsuspecting humans also made Banks think of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park.

"When they first saw the dinosaurs in that movie, you thought, 'Oh man, that's so awe-inspiring, look at that,' and then that wonder turns to fear. For me, bears are not inherently scary, so we had to create that scenario at the very beginning of the movie where it is wonderful to see a bear in nature, we all get a little like, woo, cool, it's titillating, but then you also don't want it to come too close to you. Your instincts do kick in; you do understand that it's an apex predator."

In addition to directing, Banks also produced the feature alongside Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Max Handelman, Brian Duffield and Aditya Sood. Robin Mulcahy Fisichella, Alison Small and Nikki Baida serve as executive producers.

Cocaine Bear arrives on the big screen next Friday — Feb. 24. Click here to purchase tickets.

Looking for more creature-based thrills? Jordan Peele's Nope is currently streaming on Peacock.