The Evil Dead is regarded as an all time classic. Not only by me, but horror fans and even movie fans in general. It took gore and special effects to new levels not seen in American mainstream cinema. Originally the film was produced on a meagre $90k budget. The film itself had no major distribution but did gain an airing at the Cannes film festival in 1982. It did however, catch the attention of Stephen King at the film festival who gave it rave reviews which led to New Line Cinema picking it up.
THE PLOT OF THE EVIL DEAD
The movie itself launched the careers of both main actor Bruce Campbell and director Sam Raimi. Anyone reading this blog will be aware of them both. You’ll probably also know the premise of the movie, but we’ll do it again anyway. The Evil Dead centres in on a group of 5 older teenagers who go for a weekend away in the woods. Whilst in the cabin they rent they find a cellar and decide to explore. They find recording of some ancient incantations along with a copy of the “Book of the Dead” (Necronomicon) which summon spirits lying dormant in the woods. This of course leads to an epic tale of possession and all manner of gore.
From the start Raimi creates an atmosphere of horror and dread. This is a testament to the mans skill. The harmonized voices eminating from the forest really add to the initial atmosphere. You know from the moment the teens enter the house they are in for a horrible time.
Unless you’re going into the horror underground (Ie: Italian Cannibal flicks) I can’t think of too much which would have surpassed this for pure gore factor at the time. The special effects technology (stop motion), which I can’t think of being used in a horror flick before, would have really set this one apart from its peers. This movie also famous for one particular “Tree Rape” scene. While the violence then would have been considered extreme, it’s hard to say how it would come across now. Some of it would be seen as a little “Slapstick” to be honest. There’s certainly more explicit (gore wise) stuff available now. No denying this would have been impactful at the time.
The film didn’t do too badly at the box office. Gaining almost 3 million in sales on original release. Since then however it has gained an undeniable cult status and since ticketed $30 million and countless VHS, DVD and bluray releases to horror hungry fans of the genre across the world.
THE GORE FACTOR
The Evil Dead gained notoriety when it was placed on the infamous “Video Nasty” List. The aforementioned “Tree Rape” scene would have pushed this one over the edge for sure. The violence contained within the film was considered so over the top that it even gained an “X” rating, mainly used for pornographic films at the time. I’m assuming this only further cemented its legendary status.
THE EVIL DEAD LEGACY
The Evil Dead went to spawn two more sequels, a reboot and a series (Ash vs the Evil Dead) all of which Raimi and Campbell had either on screen or behind the scenes parts in. Raimi, more notably also went on to direct the Hercules series and Spider man Trilogy amongst other things, as well as horror movies such as Boogeyman and Drag Me to Hell.
Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams in the Evil Dead 1980
This is absolutely essential horror viewing. All I can do is emplore you to buy your self a copy of this and watch it if you don’t already own it. Its an essential part of any horror collection.
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Also be sure to check out our review of the EVIL DEAD REMAKE.