When five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods for a relaxing weekend, they find an old tape recorder with recordings of demonic incantations from The Book of the Dead. Unbeknownst to them, as they listen to the tape they are in fact awakening the demons from the woods and one by one they become possessed.
Evil Dead is written and directed by horror king Sam Raimi and stars Bruce Campbell (a high school friend of Raimi’s). Sam started the project when he was still a student at Michigan State University, with the idea to produce the most shocking and horrific film in history to date; that date being 1982.
I had never seen the film prior and I was intrigued at what was considered grueling horror over 20 years ago. For its time, the film was extremely controversial for its graphic violence and gore.
I found it absurdly gruesome and quite funny. My favorite comical piece of dialogue was early on in one scene, a basement door in the floor opens by itself. Everyone is standing around staring into it and Scotty, one of the two guys says, “What’s down there” to which one of the girls replies “Whatever it is, it’s still down there”. No kidding! I simply loved the campy humor throughout this movie. My biggest gripe is some scenes took way to long to culminate. The Evil Dead would be perfect for the Starz 30 Second Bunnies Movies. Friends go to cabin, girl gets possessed, gets locked up in basement, all friends get possessed, Ash tries to kill everyone even though he’s a woos, chainsaw, blood, end of film. Evil Dead II was actually made into a 30 Second Bunnies video…which you can see at the end of this review.
The use of odd camera angles that enhanced certain scenes caught my attention right away. Sam Raimi definitely knew a thing or two about directing almost fresh out of school. Most of the acting was amateurish but hey they weren’t really “actors” yet at all. Bruce Campbell stayed true to form with the films next two sequels. He carries over the same tongue-in-cheekiness and anti-hero personae he had in this film, which is what he became known for, or at least how I came to perceive him, especially after viewing Army of Darkness.
The scene in the woods where Cheryl gets raped by the actual woods was the most disturbing part of the film. On the humorous side watching her getting violated by a tree branch just had me thinking of the splinter factor. On the dark side, it was just so bizarre and quite misogynistic, however B horror flicks of that era (mid 70’s to early 80’s) usually were.
With the budget allotted, a pretty good job was done effects wise (for it’s time). I will continue to say that because by today standards it can’t hold a flame. Wigs are obvious, as is the latex facial prosthetics, and the makeup looks like Tammy Fay Baker applied it. Don’t get me wrong just because adults might find it ridiculous yet fun, doesn’t mean anyone under 17 should view it, it’s quite over the top and grotesque. Even the movie poster warned the public of this.
In all fairness, Sam Raimi was well ahead of his time. He set the standard for horror films to constantly push the envelope. I’m curious to see how the remake will turn out. If they keep the rape scene, throw in as much preposterous gore as the original and add 21st century effects capability, it’ll make House of 1000 Corpses look like Sesame Street.
A must see for die hard horror fans. Just remember you get the era you pay for.
Rating: 8.5/10 stars
Running time: 85 minutes
Rated: NC-17 for substantial graphic horror violence and gore.
Evil Dead II 30 Second Bunnies Video: