- Written and Directed by Sam Raimi (Feature Directorial Debut)
- October 15, 1981 (Redford Theatre) / April 15, 1983 (US)
Five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a remote wooded area find an audio tape that when played releases a legion of demons.
The Evil Dead is an effective low budget film that focuses on creating atmosphere and weirdness. It’s creepy and odd and (at least when it came out) unlike anything else to hit the screen. At the time it was a completely unique vision. Many have tried to one extent or another to imitate this. Some have done better than others at mimicking what we get in this film but few have come close to equaling it.
It does what it does very simply. They did not have a great deal of money for much of anything, but they made the most of what they had. Via camera tricks and unique angles, they create a unique, intense atmosphere that is strange and rather surreal at moments. What the special effects lack in budgetary quality, they make up for in imagination.
That’s not to say The Evil Dead is flawless. Some scenes go on a little too long. Some moments are dragged out a bit too long. All hallmarks of a relatively inexperienced filmmaker. This was after all Sam Raimi’s feature film debut. Yet they are not so terrible that they harm the film. In fact it becomes a bit of an endearing quality.
This is the movie that made a name for Sam Raimi as well as gave Bruce Campbell his signature role of Ash Williams. While this is a classic, all the other actors in their parts are replaceable but Bruce Campbell did something special even though this doesn’t have many of the elements the character of Ash Williams is best known for.
When the film opens it’s clear that these are not strong friends. At least to me anyway. They’re friends, but it wouldn’t take too much to tear their friendship apart and the minimal tension that begins the situation does that rather quickly. Scott (Richard DeManincor as Hal Delrich) wants to abandon everybody the moment things get tough.
I remember originally watching The Evil Dead when I was much younger and I wasn’t too impressed with the make-up but somehow it works. Then again, the story is just well done. It goes for shock and weird and it accomplishes that in spades. Plus you are left with a feeling that what these people are facing off against is something truly evil.
The supernatural entities we get are not ravenous monsters, but rather unseen tormentors. While their ultimate goal is death, they harass and mock and just generally make the life hell of those they are after. The only time we get any look at them is when they possess someone and they possess at will.
At 85 minutes there isn’t enough time for extra. Not that there’s much story here. It’s essentially demons attacking. There isn’t significant gore, but there is plenty of good squibs. There’s at best a scene of dismemberment, but most of the weird/messy stuff is saved for the previously mentioned final minutes of the film.
Speaking of the final minutes, in its final minutes Rami does an ending that essentially screws our survivor. Most often those are just tossed in to undermine your expectations and generally fit poorly into the narrative presented. This one actually makes sense. From the start, these demons have been playing the game and they’ve been in complete control. They had tormented Ash the whole time and coming at him was the culmination of that.
The Evil Dead is a classic bit of a little budget horror. It’s short and to the point and effective. This is something I highly recommend.
One thought on “The Evil Dead”