Evil Dead, The (1982)

 

These indie posters are the shit.
These indie posters are the shit.

Genre: Horror

Starring:  Bruce Campbell (Bubba Ho-Tep  "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys"), Ellen Sandweiss (My Name Is Bruce • Satan's Playground)

Directed By: Sam Raimi (Spider-Man Drag Me to Hell)

Overview: When five people plan a vacation at a secluded cabin in the woods, they awaken instead a host of Kandarian demons bent on possessing them all and consuming their souls.

Before Bruce Campbell was 'famous', before "Hercules" and "Xena"Spider-Man cameos and all the other movies where he's mocking his B-Grade status and loving it, there was his first feature film role, The Evil Dead. Before a successful if terribly boring Spider-Man franchise, before Darkman and Drag Me To Hell, there was Sam Raimi at his most honest, and I dare say his best, when he directed his first feature, The Evil Dead. Before the Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn reboot in all its slapstick comedy, before the high-budget farce Army of Darkness, there was a genuinely disturbing don't-eat-while-watching-this-like-I-did original film, a film that continues to impress thirty years later, and even one one that created a musical - one I've been to. How many films can say that?
 
(The answer is just one, this one. I hope you got that.)
Time to kick some Ash.
Time to kick some Ash.
 
The story is as simple as they get, and damn near cliché, even by 1981 standards: Five people drive up to a cabin in the woods that they've rented for far too cheap, find an ancient tome and accidentally conjure up some demons who try to kill them all. That's it. The rest is all filler - sweet, delicious and really, really gory filler.
 
What makes The Evil Dead so original is that filler and how the story delivers the plot elements in a way that is a twist on an old favourite. Instead of having some kids stumble upon a book and read it out loud to one another in sobering amazement, or in the middle of a crazy party on a dare, they find the spoken-aloud words on a voice-recorder, narrated by the professor who studied the demons and the Necronomicon, a pleasant tip of the cap to that evil book's creator, H.P. Lovecraft.

"I believe I have made a significant find in the Kandarian ruins, a volume of ancient Sumarian burial practices and funerary incantations. It is entitled "Naturum De Montum", roughly translated: Book of the Dead. The book is bound in human flesh and inked in human blood. It deals with demons and demon resurrection and those forces which roam the forest and dark bowers of Man's domain. The first few pages warn that these enduring creatures may lie dormant but are never truly dead. They may be recalled to active life through the incantations presented in this book. It is through the recitation of these passages that the demons are given license to possess the living."

Impressive scenes include dismemberment of the possessed with axes, the girlfriend cackling cross-legged on the floor, the hauntingly surreal trip to the basement and of course the ever-famous possessed-tree rape scene, which was far less vivid than I remember it being the first time I saw this. But the gore and the pervasive suspense and horror aren't all The Evil Dead has to offer. The cinematography is artistic and original and the acting is pleasantly campy while still being far away enough from the mock its Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn reboot waded hip-deep in.
 
If it's not the best of Sam Raimi's work, it's certainly in his top three, including any recent multi-million superhero productions.
 
Did I mention it was gory? Cause it's gorier than that.
Did I mention it was gory? Cause it's gorier than that.
 

Performance: 7 Cinematography: 9 Script: 7 Plot: 8 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 80% (Worth Waking The Dead Over)
Aftertaste:

Another thing the script doesn't do is explain everything in a typical horror fashion. We're in the role of the teens and their experience doesn't include being damn experts on Kandarian demons. They're just straight up dealing with the problem without all the back story. 

Oh, one last thing. The 2013 remake I just read about? I invite director Fede Alvarez to find one effing original idea before stealing other people's scripts to build his career on. You stupid chump.

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For a man who hates musicals as a film genre, I have to ask, did you enjoy "Evil Dead - The Musical" as a stage show?


IT WAS AMAAAAAAAZING!

The only regret I have is that I didn't see it in Toronto where, as I understand, the first 3 rows of the audience gets WET from all the GORE.

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