Evil Dead(released Oct/81)aka Book of the Dead....wow,what legs this film has grown.Made on a very modest budget of well under 1/2 a million dollars,and now said to have grossed somewhere around 30 million(!),this film has taken its gory place amongst its' followers high on their respective film lists.Of course as we all know this was the film Robert Tapert,Sam Raimi(later of Xena & Hercules,and Bruce Campbell all cut their filmic "teeth" on and the rest is history.The film itself deserves no more than about 3 1/2 stars,being a just above-average flick.I am no fan of Anchor bay but they have put together a three -disc set here,worthy of say a Criterion company release;but more on that later.
The plot as we all know by now involves a couple of guys with girlfriends and a sister tagging along,who all decide to head out into the remote woods to a cabin.There they find a tape recorder and a strange notebook(that we all come to know is the Necronomicon).They play the tape recorder and find it has the voice of a professor on it,and as he chants some ancient words it arouses spirits in the woods that slowly but surely attack the cabin and everyone in it.One by one the girls and eventually one of the guys all become Deadites and attack Ash,who remains the only one still standing and possession free throughout the movie.But Ash has his work cut out for him(literally and figuratively)as he has to kill each one of his friends.The spirits make it clear they want EVERYONE("join us") and at the end,as Ash stands alone outside the cabin,the strange entity comes at him in a head long rush as he screams into the lens...fade to black.
I recall the movie originally and it was quite the gorefest when it first debuted.It certainly looks tame now,as have alot of its contemporaries.They had lightened the rating system I recall in the early 70s so things got a little bit more intense,if that's the word,on screen.Filmmakers really started to push the envelope.What was rated "R" back in the 60s is now about PG today;it's amazing(the times they have a-changed!),but I digress.The special effects,as primitive as they were for the late 70s,still stand up pretty good today.Raimi and company made the most of what they had and used every trick in the book to convey that sense of isolation,dread and horror that became the trademark of the Evil Dead series.Bruce Campbell of course as Ash really makes the movie,as he goes from a very wimpish type character and converts into a much stronger one,due to the forces that he is pitted against.It's do or die and Ash doesn't want to die as his friends did.The rest of the cast do an admirable job and while it is no Citizen Kane,Campbell and company manage to pull it all off pretty well.
Technically speaking the film,though shot in 16mm,looks and sounds very good in these prints.It was originally shot full frame so Anchor Bay has gone and included BOTH the full frame AND widescreen prints here for your edification!Each disc has extras and the third is dedicated to nothing but extras.They include:Commentary on the widescreen print by the directors,commentary on the full frame version by Campbell,poster and memorabilia gallery,trailer and TV spots,make up tests,featurettes about the women of the Evil Dead,Campbell and Ted Raimi WITH the women of E/D,discovering E/D,a premiere in 2006 at a Drive In w/ the full cast,the cast at a convention,a reunion panel AND a replica of one of the original theater posters thrown in for good measure.Phew! As I said this is a release worthy of the Criterion company and as such that is why the high marks;as they just put the whole package right over the top.
All in all a highly recommended release for fans of the first of the three of this gorefest series.Though not the best it's still pretty darn good and it still has some scare the pants off of you moments throughout.This edition has both the original full frame print and the specially made widescreen print.And with all the extras,there is NO other version to get the Deadite of your choosing.Join us!
"Low-budget" is usually used either as a criticism, or as an excuse for a movie's shortcomings. But a movie's actual cinematic quality isn't determined by its budget.
Case in point: "The Evil Dead," the classic cult film that turned writer/director Sam Raimi into a big name. Produced on a shoestring budget in less-than-ideal surroundings, this movie proves that you don't need amazing special effects or big-name stars to produce an excellent movie -- just a simple tale of five clueless people going off to a cabin in the woods, only to encounter demonic horrors, possession, and some trees that don't understand what "no" means.
Five college students are venturing to a remote cabin in the woods, including Ash (Bruce Campbell), his sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) and his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker). And with the words "remote cabin in the woods," anyone who has seen horror movies in the last few decades knows roughly what's going to happen. Either eldritch horrors or brutal murders are afoot.
It turns out to be the former -- when the guys venture into the cabin's basement, they find a book called the Naturom Demonto ("roughly translated: Book of the Dead") bound in human flesh and inked with blood, and a tape recorder whose incantations release the book's evil. And the evil wastes no time in attacking the group... although it seems most interested in Cheryl. She hears voices calling "Join us," her walk in the woods leads to an encounter with some very rapey trees, and she ends up possessed by a rotten-faced demon.
Unfortunately, the only bridge back to civilization has completely collapsed, leaving them stranded miles from any kind of help. And though they are able to trap the possessed Cheryl in the basement, more of the group are being targeted by the demons lurking in the woods outside -- either to possess them, or to brutally murder them. Or both. Will Ash be able to survive the night in this horrifyingly haunted house, or will he succumb to the "evil dead"?
Sam Raimi managed to make "The Evil Dead" on a budget of under a million dollars, with a real cabin, minimal crew and inexperienced actors (including his childhood friend, future cult icon Bruce Campbell. In other words, this gory little cult movie is only a little more polished than the kind of homemade horror movies that some people put up on Youtube. And honestly... its rough, low-budget style is a large part of its charm, both in how cheesy it can become and in how inventive Raimi had to be.
And about half the time, the results are pretty atmospheric and creepy... and the rest of the time, the movie is pretty hilarious. In the first half, when we have a slow-building, eerie build to the horrors waiting in the woods, with moments of almost Lovecraftian creepiness when the flesh-bound book is uncovered. Raimi uses odd camera angles (and the odd zoom-through-the-swamp-from-the-demon's-point-of-view) to emphasize the unnerving aspects of the story, which is quite impressive considering the limited budget. Actually, it's even creepier because of the gritty, realistic look of the movie.
But once the demon possessions start, the movie bounces into the kind of excess that is utterly hilarious -- fountains of gore, guts, a chainsaw and zombie makeup, mingled with cackling demon girlfriends and a wild-eyed Bruce Campbell lurching around having weird experiences. It stops being scary, but it achieves a delightful cheesiness that is almost irresistible. Where else can you see blood streaming from wall sockets?
The actors all do a pretty good job here, although most of them are generally not noticed in favor of Campbell -- Ellen Sandweiss is quite good as the tormented Cheryl, who is raped by branches and driven into hysteria by the knowledge of the demonic presence, while Richard DeManincor/Hal Delrich is pretty convincing as the insensitive jerk of the group. And of course, we have Campbell. He doesn't yet have that over-the-top, larger-than-life masculine presence he's known for, and utters a few woodenly-delivered lines, but he definitely has a scene-stealing presence and intensity. And most importantly, he can throw himself into seemingly silly scenes (attacking his possessed girlfriend with a wooden beam as large as he is) with utter conviction.
It's cheap, it's cheesy, and its shoestring budget is apparent. But "The Evil Dead" ends up a delight through a combination of working well within its limited means, and in graduating from creepy suspense to an orgy of possession and dismemberment. And the demonic fun has only just started.
on April 16, 2013
I love my dad for getting me into the old classics like The Omega Man, or Monty Python, and many others. It's made me develop a love for the old stuff, and while he is also a fan of The Evil Dead Trilogy, I was too young to have him show them to me.
Until now. After seeing the redband trailer for the new Evil Dead, I was intrigued, and so I downloaded the original trilogy, and I couldn't stop watching until I finished Army of Darkness. Now that I've bought the movies, I'm glad I did. The Evil Dead DVD came in perfect condition, and it played without the slightest problem. I thoroughly enjoyed The Evil Dead once again, and I'm absolutely ecstatic to have added it to my growing DVD collection.
The movie itself is about five college friends venturing out into the mountains to camp out in an old cabin. Unfortunately, after finding the Book of the Dead and a record of the cabin's previous owner, which reads the forbidden passages within the book out loud, an evil force is once again awakened. This evil force possesses them one by one, and before long, there's the possibility that no one will survive to see the next dawn.
All in all, this was a highly enjoyable classic that came in perfect condition.
**** out of *****
on May 27, 2004
Low budget horror does not get much better than "The Evil Dead". In fact no other low budget horror film even looks like "The Evil Dead" thanks to Sam Raimi (The director of "Spider-Man" for the ladies and gentlemen of you out there who do not know this.) So if you want to see how a big director starts from the real bottom end of film making and works his way up then you need to watch this film at all costs. Besides he was just a young kid when he made it (using a school's 16mm film camera)..... and so were his friends who acted in it.... and they ended up making a film which coined the term "video nasty'! The movie was filmed in 1979 and released in 1982 where it hit the video market just at the right time. It was one of the very first cult classics promoted by the advent of video tape.
`The Evil Dead' IS one of the nastiest films ever made. It contains extreme violence, blood, torture, beheadings, dismemberments, mutilations, gore, violence towards women, chain saws - all in FULL VIEW of the camera. No holds where bared in the making of this film but some countries may show this movie in a censored form which entails the removal of about six minutes from the film (This is uncut and the UK recently released it uncut). The story is original, fast paced, scary and extremely enjoyable. Many fans watch it over and over and over again. Many of today's new film making talent watch this film over and over again and it is obvious to see why.
The camera work is used unusually, skillfully and surprisingly (so rare these days). The editing is dramatic and the low budget special effects must be given credit for the end results which beat the pants out of some of things that hit the shelves these days. In short, the film making aspect is really what "The Evil Dead" is all about. Here the director is really giving you a bang for what bucks he had.
The premise is a simple one to explain. Five young kids go to a cabin in the woods for a short vacation. In the house they find a tape recording which manages to invoke an incantation which wakes up the evil in the woods. It comes after them - turning some of them into the undead, demons, zombies and flesh eating ghouls. Cue lots of household items being used as weapons, an initially sissy anti-hero (Bruce Campbell) who becomes the GOD of million adoring horror fans (you'll see why when you watch it and certainly the sequel is even better still!!) and low budget special effects galore. Copied by a hundred thousand other horror films, exploited by a million uncensored bootleg copies - `The Evil Dead' is still the low budget horror king. And that is a hard act to beat!
on May 20, 2004
Being a big fan of Army of Darkness for some time I'd long been planning on checking out the first 2 Evil Dead films. I picked up Evil Dead 2, and while it is quite good it didn't quite live up to expectations. Still, I was sufficiently intrigued that I decided to finally pick up the original. By this point, however, I was a bit suspicious of it, starting to wonder if the consistently positive reviews of it were a case of mass hysteria, or if the low budget combined with an emphasis on gore and visual effects would make it seem too dated. Fortunately, my concerns over the film made my actually seeing all the more enjoyable, as it easily surpassed expectations and still stands as a first rate horror film.
I need to say, right off the bat, that this is a serious horror film. Most people know this, but there is a fairly sizable contingent who seem to think that this is a parody or comedy.(as are the sequels) It does contain some humor, and has a greater emphasis on being unusual and surreal than your average horror film, but it is, by and large, very serious.
As most critics love to point out, this film is a bit short on plot.(Not that I'm looking for plot when I see a horror movie) In short, 5 young adults go to a cabin in the woods, find a book, find a tape, play the tape, become possessed by demons and must fight the demons. It's not much on paper, but the execution is excellent. The major caveat is the acting, although it really isn't as bad as lots of people make it out to be. I would rarely call it good, but it usually isn't bad enough that I'm taken out of the movie. Also, the visual effects occasionally falter, most notably during the 2 obvious uses of ridiculous looking dummy heads. Overall, the effects aren't necessarily realistic, but they are generally cool or gross or both. And their lack of realism doesn't much matter as it is well established that once possessed the people change greatly from a physical standpoint, and are far from human. Lots of the gore effects are self-consciously over the top, most notably the moist 'n gooey claymation extravaganza at the end. The most effective effect, however, is just about the simplest. This is, of course, the agonizing pencil-to-the-ankle scene, which stands as one of the most painful scenes to watch that I've come across. Also of particular note is the scene where one of the demons proceeds to chew their own hand off. A tad inexplicable, but effective none the less.
This movie is interesting as it displays an unusual combination in horror films: it is very gory, yet it is very slow and deliberately paced. The first half of the film is largely uneventful, but I think it sets the mood pretty well and is more interesting then the exposition of your average horror film. And the second half, which is pretty much non-stop horror is still slow and deliberate, as the demons are sadistic and playful, choosing to mock and torment their victims rather than simply kill them outright. The horror set pieces are generally excellent. I particularly like when the lone Ash is assailed by 2 demons simultaneously, one in the room with him, the other clutching at him from the below. While this movie isn't really scary, it is pretty eerie at times. The initial possession is quite creepy, particularly the spontaneous levitation and her slow, crippled movements. The standard 'character is walking through the empty rooms looking for someone' are unusually good as well, generally generating some real tension. The demons are occasionally a bit over the top, but this is largely negated as they are clearly intended to be a bit mischivious.(murderous too, however) They're makeup is usually pretty effective as well, if a bit weird. Cheryl's blue, sometimes grey-blue witch face is more effective then it seemed from still pictures, particularly when she is laughing with blood pouring out of her mouth. Linda's porcelain doll make-up is kinda annoying to look at but it fits her evil and giggly little girl persona very well. Every character has their face horribly mangled or covered in blood at some point during the film and they generally look quite disgusting.
Sam Raimi is famed for his inventive camera work, and it shines here. The scenes where Ash is apparently on the brink of insanity are quite cool, with lots of crazy shots, ranging from ones tilted at a 45 degree angle to one looking directly down from the rafters to extremely low shots, from underfoot. The absolute visual highlight of the film comes when we are given a low shot viewing two corpses in the foreground. Ash proceeds drag one of the bodies outside and the camera tracks him, moving along side til it reveals the possessed Cheryl waiting patiently in the basement. The 'force' shots are pretty cool to, particularly the one where it rams through the cars windshields.
A few closing notes. Personally, I found the infamous plant scene to be a bit, I dunno, stupid. The end of it was just messed up. Not a huge flaw by any means, but it did hurt the film a bit. Also, as many have mentioned, make sure to get the Elite version. All Anchor Bay versions are in pseudo-widescreen where they matted out the top and bottom of the picture. I accidentally got one matted as such, and while it probably isn't a huge deal, it's just stupid to have it cut like that.
All in all this is a very good horror film. It's got gore and violence combined with well designed scenes and plenty of visual flair. Check it out.
on April 23, 2004
This is one of the greatest horror films ever made. Some people may find the special effects work primitive by todays standards, but for a low-budget film as this is they are excellent and charged with a weirdly supernatural energy; something one never sees today in the big production horror films.
However, this review is mainly going to be about the picture format. Evil Dead was filmed in 16mm, which is a full-screen format, not widescreen.
BEWARE of the so called "widescreen" versions: Book of the Dead Limited Edition, and the other editions from Anchor Bay. Nothing has been added to sides of the picture to make it wider; instead the top and bottom of the film have been cut away to make it look like a modern theatre film. Instead of more, you actually gett less. In some parts of the movie this makes an important differance; in the close-ups of faces, parts like the chins are now gone (...); other important details also disappear, like when the trap-door in the floor opens and we look down into the cellar, the lower edge of the opening is gone, so we don't see the entrance in its whole.
The full-screen version is still available, with excellent picture quality, in the Elite Entertainment edition.
on April 15, 2004
Evil dead is one of my favorite horror movie. It beats the exorcist by a long shot! This film was low budget, not that great of effects, but an instant classic. Evil dead, classic horror film, made in 1979, released in 1983 because it was to viloent. This is a definate must see if you haven't. Luckly I got the limited edition pack first, before it went out of print. Their are great features, and a great quality in picture. The features are great, if somehow you can get this get it! The outtakes are funny, it has a great behind the scenes look, and audio commentary by director Sam Raimi and producer Robert Tapert and commentary by the one and only.....Bruce Campbell. If they do mix him in the Freddy vs. Jason thing he should win.
If you haven't seen this movie, this paragraph is for you. This story goes as five teens Ash, Cheryl, Scott, Linda, and Shelly (Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Derich, Betsy Baker, and Theresa Tilly)who uncover the spells of the "Book of the Dead" and now evil spirits spread all over. Some scenes can be very hard to watch by the goreness. As the virus spreads around Ash's friend, its up to him to survive the massacre the spirits left his bloody friends. It is a must see.
I must comment on the make-up. They did a fantastic job on the make-up. Some scenes I seriously thought looked like the excorsist. It has great make-up, and great special effects for a 1979 movie. This film definintley define the words of cult classic.
on March 26, 2004
Evil Dead is the first, and in my opinion, the best in the Evil Dead series. While Dead By Dawn and Army of Darkness are very good movies, they were played more for the laughs and for showcasing Bruce Campbell's incredible acting skills than for the horror aspect. That's what makes this one stand out above them. Evil Dead is a horror movie, through and through.
It starts out with a group of twenty-somethings on their way up to a cabin they rented recently. When they get to the cabin, Scott goes up to the cabin, where there is a porch swing banging incessantly against the cabin wall, though there is no noticable wind. After he gets the key and unlocks the door, it suddenly stops. This is a portent of things to come.
They start exploring the cabin, and soon they find the cellar, which has a room where they find a reel-to-reel audio player and a curious looking book. Of course, they play the tape and read from the book. That's when all hell breaks loose, if you'll pardon the pun. One of the gals, Cheryl, goes out in the woods when she hears a noise, where she is raped by the forest. This is one of the most memorable scenes in horror movie history. The demons that were released when they read from the Morturom Demonto possess her, and the rest of them lock her in the cellar.
It's not long before the rest of the group also gets possessed, all except Ash. He eventually kills all the possessed people, and day finally breaks. As he makes his way out the door and is on his way back home, the demons come rushing through the forest, through the cabin, and the last scene we see is Ash as he is confronted by them.
There are so many things I like about this movie. The action is pretty much non stop. All the action takes place in one night. We never get to see the demons, which was probably a cost issue, but it made them all the more terrifying. The acting by all the actors was excellent, especially Campbell. The special effects and the makeup for the possessed people were also excellent. And of course the story. If you haven't seen it, go rent it now. It's one of the best horror movies ever made. If you have seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it again.
on March 22, 2004
When asked my favorite series of films, I will likely say THE EVIL DEAD. As far as horror series go, "Evil Dead" is definitely my favorite. "The Evil Dead" is the first film in the trilogy, a low-budget film with a $250,000 budget that ended up being one of the most popular and influential horror films ever made. Drawing inspiration from films like "Night of the Living Dead" and "The Hills Have Eyes", "Evil Dead" was the first film to demonstrate Sam Raimi's creative genius.
The story involves five friends (your typical 70's college students) who travel to an abandoned cabin in the woods. There, they unwittingly resurrect evil demons which have one goal: to scare you out of your skin - literally. You see, these ain't just flesh-hungry demons: they're flesh-possessing demons. With the friends being picked off one-by-one, in the end, only Ash (Bruce Campbell) is remaining. Now it's up to him to save the day (or night) and get the hell out of there before the demons reach him.
Sam Raimi, who is in fact much more of a Three Stooges/comedy fan than a horror fan demonstrates his creative genius here. The story was surprisingly original, and the script is filled with suspense and scares. Then there's Tom Sullivan's terrific effects; there's enough barrels of gore here to make even the strong-stomached feel sick. Joseph LoDuca also contributes a creepy score; Bruce Campbell's performance is good, but comes nowhere near being comparable to his role in the sequels.
I loved "The Evil Dead" when I first saw it and still do. It is one of my favorite horror films, and undoubtedly a horror masterpiece, using all the tricks in the book while creating some new ones. "Evil Dead" is a true horror classic, and essential for any and all horror lovers.
"I know that my wife has become host to a Kandarian demon. I fear that the only way to stop those possessed by the spirits of the book is through ... the act of ... bodily dismemberment ..."
on March 3, 2004
On Sunday, September 27, 1998, I bought my first copy of THE EVIL DEAD on VHS at Wal-Mart for $7. This was something I had been looking forward to since I first heard about this movie on Houseofhorrors.com and a Leonard Maltin review. Six days later, at five in the morning (after a nightmare about watching a horror movie where the floor turned into quicksand), I watched THE EVIL DEAD for the first time. And I was hooked! This movie was indeed gory, and is still among the goriest horror movies ever made, but it was genuinely scary as well, with a great music score and atmosphere created in the woods! It became a habit to see THE EVIL DEAD late at night when everybody else was asleep. So far I have seen THE EVIL DEAD about 25 times.
In late March of 2002, my sister Flora gave me this Book Of The Dead Limited Edition DVD as a belated birthday present. This is by far the best packaging of THE EVIL DEAD that Anchor Bay Entertainment has provided. It looks just like the Book Of The Dead in the movie right down to the pages! (And no, I have not tried to recite any of the passages in the book.) The DVD has a great widescreen transfer of the film, a fun audio commentary track by the star of the film, Bruce Campbell (I listened to this track on my most recent viewing), as well as one by director Sam Raimi and producer Robert Tapert, a documentary by Campbell about fans of horror and sci-fi, and a documentary on the film's distribution in England, along with a wealth of other cool supplements!
During the weekend of August 16 and 17 of last year, I met special effects artist Tom Sullivan and the ladies of THE EVIL DEAD at the Horrorfind convention in Maryland. They were all really nice; in fact, I learned from Sullivan how he achieved all those effects, saw the props he created, and even learned about how they tried to title and release the film. They also signed my Book Of The Dead and it was one of many wonderful experiences at the convention! All I need now is Bruce Campbell's autograph in my Book Of The Dead (and on my EVIL DEAD 2 and ARMY OF DARKNESS Boomstick Edition); hopefully I'll get it this year! If you still haven't seen THE EVIL DEAD yet, then get with the program and go rent it; better yet, own it! Join Us!