The Evil Dead
Release date: April 15, 1983
Director: Sam Raimi
Philip A. Gillis,
Dorothy Tapert and
Five friends go up to a cabin in the woods where they find unspeakable evil lurking in the forest. They find the Necronomicon and the taped translation of the text. Once the tape is played, the evil is released. One by one, the teens become deadly zombies. With only one remaining, it is up to him to survive the night and battle the evil dead.
Considering the fact that it was yet another of the "Goofy young adults go into the woods and get slaughtered" flicks that were popular at the time, it was and is hard to figure out just what is so unique about the film.
The Evil Dead has rose above the dross of the many other films of the same theme. You don't see Friday The 13th promoted like this one. For example, when I went to buy the movie, there were five different ways to go. The cheap video with the original movie poster for a box cover; the digitally remixed sound and picture version with Bruce Campbell on the cover, raising a chainsaw over his head, and being held by a screaming woman who is not even seen in the movie, yet a third, fourth and fifth cover in case you didn't like the first two, and a special edition that comes in a very special plastic shell box and has loads of collector goodies to go with it.
What helps The Evil Dead succeed is the odd angles and the lighting which give the film an almost you are their look. The house in which the soon to be victims gather is photographed with a claustrophobic eye to detail. It's this unique style that really carries the movie through. The story itself is full of the same stupid things that you would come to expect from such movies. Victims like Shelley (Sarah York), who goes out into the Woods, at Night, Alone, because she is certain that she is on the trail of the Thing, in the Basement, that Scared her. She gets raped by some trees but makes it back to the house in time to turn into a zombie.
The madness slowly builds until the final showdown where gruesome body parts are flying, exploding, decaying, and I'm having a great time watching it all. The acting is awful and so is the script, but the "stars" of the flick are sincere in their efforts and it shows. Despite the clichés, they make you believe in their characters enough to suspend disbelief, make you care, and pull off the fright. Bruce Campbell, as Ash, is sympathetic enough to make you want him to make it through alive.
With EVIL DEAD 2, the Director Sam Raimi recognized the stupid parts of The Evil Dead and didn't simply make a sequel so much as an EVIL DEAD parody, loaded with humor. ARMY OF DARKNESS was the third sequel in this series and made a few changes to the original again. All three movies are great to watch with some friends in a marathon and I recommend it! For all of its camp and stupidity, THE EVIL DEAD contains some real frights. Who would have thought, after watching this movie, that Sam Raimi would go on to direct a few "Super Hero" movies with DARKMAN and SPIDER-MAN?
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