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!
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 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 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!
on January 28, 2004
When I first heard of Evil Dead, it wasn't in some upscale, fancy movie mag, like EW or Rolling stone. I heard about it from fans of the other horror films I liked; Night of the living dead, texas chainsaw massacre, etc. They said it was one of the few films which was made up of every element that stuck out in these other pictures and still stood tall to the original source material. In terms of entertainment, the film is a 10+. In terms of filmaking, its a little lower. the film was Raimi's first attempt at a motion picture, and he didn't have a lot to work with. The make up is masterfully implemented by the other worldly camera, a charecter in its own. If you care even slightly about horror, see this and the 2 sequels.
Oh, and if you are in the market for a DVD of Evil Dead, get this one, not the expensive Book of the Dead one. This has all the features you need on the Book of the Dead, except a short made by Bruce Campbell about fanboys. This has all the others and its in Widescreen with THX sound, so this is the disc for all the cheapo's (like me) out there.
on January 16, 2004
First of all this is probably the most important movie a film student could watch. Secondly this is a cult horror classic. Thirdly this is a genre defining film. Forth on the list is that the DVD commentary is absolutely fantastic. If you can get around to reading "If Chins Could Kill" by Bruce Campbell, who plays the protagonist, Ash, in this film then you will also learn a lot more about it and will be happy that you did.
Sam Raimi (Director of Spider-Man) made the Evil Dead with his friends when he was just little more than a teenager. He made a short film called (Within In The Woods) which you can find using P2P sharing programs. It is only available in bootleg format and has only been released on the Laser Disc version of this film. It was also released on a special DVD package but was revoked because of distribution copyright problems. Sam Raimi took that Super 8mm film around to dentists and rich people in his area to get enough money together to make a feature film called "The Book of the Dead". The distributors changed the title because they felt that people did not want to "read" a film.
The Evil Dead is low budget through and through but you must give it credit for the sheer creative energy that is on display. The story is also not bad. What makes this film stand out is the special effects. Although they are hammy, they are also excellently done for what is effectively a student film. The last scene features some really insane stop-motion effects. The camerawork is also a way above average. Raimi tilts the camera, bends the lens, flies the camera through a forest and even manages to hover it above the rafters. This is all daring and bold filmmaking coming from people who had nothing. Effectively this is the benchmark for all students attempting to make a horror feature film which is a good point of entry for them.
The film has not been banned for twenty years in the US but had been banned in the UK and then severely cut when it got its release. The MPAA refused a certificate in the US. It is only recently that it managed to acquire the NC-17 rating. The censors apparently laughed their way through it. They loved it, but it does have some very brutal scenes, one of them is sexual and involves a tree, and certainly it was released at the wrong time when video nasty opposition groups where very active. The truth be told the Evil Dead is a film that did a way better on video than it did on the cinema screen. It was the advent of household VCR systems that jettisoned the Evil Dead into the limelight.
The premise is simple. Five youths go to a log cabin in the woods to have a good time but manage to awaken the undead. Cue lots of scares, action, gore and amazing camera work.
This is a first rate horror movie with plenty of suspense to boot. It is marred by low production values and a list of relatively unknown actors for their time but who cares? This is all great fun from start to finish and well worthy of its cult status and fanboy appeal. Fans watch this at least once a week. Can't say I blame them either. It is a gem of a great fun film. Perfect for viewing at parties. It always gets a laugh.
on December 2, 2003
1983's "Evil Dead" is a dark and gritty horror film that scared audiences with its grisly gore and frightening concept. Not bad for a movie that cost just $375,000! While setting the stage for the events to come in "Evil Dead 2" and "Army of Darkness," this movie marks the debut of Bruce Campbell, whose character Ash evolved into the genre's own cult hero.
Five college students rent an old cabin located deep in the Tennessee woods. In the cellar, Ash and his friend Scotty (Hal Delrich) discover two interesting objects: an archaeologist's tape recorder and the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead). Bound in human flesh and inked in blood, the Necronomicon contains Sumerian burial rites and bizarre incantations. If read, the Book's pages resurrect unseen demons that lie dormant in the forest. Upon playing the tape, the students accidentally unleash the dark forces of evil; one by one Scotty, Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), Shelly (Theresa Tilly) and Ash's own girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker) all become deranged, bloodthirsty zombies. Armed with an axe and a double-barrelled shotgun, Ash is left alone to fight for his survival. The only way the evil could be destroyed is through bodily dismemberment! Audiences will be shocked at "Evil Dead's" onscreen gore; corpses will be chopped apart, wide-eyed zombies will fester beyond recognition, and rivers of blood will gush from the basement pipes!
Sam Raimi's direction can be clearly indicated by the fast, low-level camera motion used throughout the film. Such an element represents the unseen shadows that can crash through windows and knock down trees. If you have seen "Army of Darkness" first, you might be surprised as to how Ash's character behaves. Instead of a chainsaw-wielding, gun-toting bad boy, Ash is simply a sensitive, caring person who happens to be caught in a terrifying situation. He's overcome with grief as he can't stomach the thought of killing Linda, the woman he loves. Quite interesting! Horror movie fans will be quite pleased at what "Evil Dead" offers. I must warn you, though, it ISN'T for the faint of heart! Indeed, this movie is nothing short of 85 minutes of heartstopping terror!
on November 9, 2003
Before director Sam Raimi brought Darkman and comic book superhero Spider-Man to the big screen, he wrote and directed a low budget horror zombie film, called The Evil Dead. While short on money, the movie still benefits from Raimi's wildly inventive imagination and the first of many memorable performances by the brilliant B actor Bruce Campbell.
Five college friends decide to get away together and spend time at a cabin in the woods. When "Ash" Williams (Campbell) and his cohorts arrive, they discover a mysterious tape, and decide to find out what's on it. Once the tape is played though, it unleashes evil forces from the ancient "Book Of The Dead", that will slowly turn them into "Deadites". As it turns out, the only way to defeat these walking creatures, is by dismembering them.
The Evil Dead had a bugdet of only $375,000, and yet, while it shows throughout, Raimi's creative energy compensates for any problems due to the lack of funds. Filled with fun, excitement, and gore-a-plenty, the film never lets up once it gets going. Sure, the acting is over the top, but that's part of the fun. I can't say enough about Campbell either. He is just great here.
The Evil Dead has had its share of reissues on DVD. The extras stay pretty much the same. The 2002 Anchor Bay Edition includes two commentary tracks. The first from Raimi and Producer Robert Tapert is fun, but as you might expect, these men end up being upstaged by star Bruce Campbell, and his funny recollections for the second audio commentary. I'm laughing as I type this--just thinking about it. There's 18 minutes worth of home movie style footage of behind the scenes and outtakes on the set. Theatrical trailers, TV spots, a poster and stills gallery, and talent bios round out the disc's bonus material. Replacing the liner notes written by Campbell for the '99 DVD, is the 24 page booklet featuring an interview with "The Ladies of Evil Dead", Betsy Baker, Ellen Sandweiss, and Sarah York.
Like Joe Dante's The Howling, and the more sophisticated Halloween, from John Carpenter, The Evil Dead proves that money doesn't really matter, in film, if you have imagination and sheer will to make it work. Recommended, along with its sequels, Evil Dead II and the topper Army Of Darkness