Evil Dead

The Evil Dead

4.3 20
Director: Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker

Cast: Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker

     
 

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This auspicious feature debut from Sam Raimi -- shot on 16mm in the woods of Tennesse for around $350,000 -- secured the young director's cult status as a creative force to be reckoned with. The nominal plot involves five vacationing college kids -- Ash (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), and their classmates Cheryl

Overview

This auspicious feature debut from Sam Raimi -- shot on 16mm in the woods of Tennesse for around $350,000 -- secured the young director's cult status as a creative force to be reckoned with. The nominal plot involves five vacationing college kids -- Ash (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), and their classmates Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), Scott (Hal Delrich) and Shelly (Sarah York) -- making an unplanned stopover in an abandoned mountain cabin surrounded by impenetrable woods. Before settling in for the night, they come across an ancient-looking occult tome filled with dense hieroglyphics and macabre illustrations, a dagger fashioned from human bones, and a reel-to-reel tape recorder. The taped message, dictated by a professor of archaeology, describes the contents of the Sumerian "Book of the Dead," filled with incantations used to bring otherworldly demons to life, giving them license to possess the living. The message goes on to explain that those possessed by these demons can only be stopped by total bodily dismemberment. When played among the group later that evening, the professor's recorded translations of the ritual chants traumatize the strangely prescient Shelly ... and simultaneously release an ominous presence from the depths of the forest. The evil spirits take to their dirty work with gusto, first assuming control of Shelly and transforming her into a cackling, murderous hag with superhuman strength; the others imprison her in the fruit cellar and chain the trapdoor shut. The spirits then begin to possess the other women, including Linda -- who immediately turns on Ash with a barrage of punches and sadistic taunts. Unable to bring himself to chop up his lover's corpse, Ash gives her a more customary burial in the woods -- which proves to be a big mistake. As the others succumb to demonic influence, Ash's horrific predicament becomes increasingly grim until, when all hope seems lost, he stumbles upon a final, desperate solution to the ghoulish onslaught ... well, maybe not. Despite the shoestring production values, Raimi has fashioned a tight, lightning-paced fever dream of a movie, filled with operatic overacting and outrageously gory effects that give the project a comic-book feel. Based on an earlier 8mm short titled Within the Woods, this feature version was fraught with distribution difficulties before finding its first audience overseas. After considerable word of mouth (and a glowing endorsement from horror author Stephen King), the film became a hit on home video, where it achieved further notoriety thanks to its highly-publicized banning in Britain amid the notorious "Video Nasties" censorship campaign. Raimi, along with producer Robert Tapert, writer Scott Spiegel and much of the same crew, cranked up the story's comic aspects several dozen notches for the rollicking semi-remake, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Amy Robinson
Sam Raimi's genuinely disturbing low-budget gorefest has lost little of its power to shock. The initial controversy over The Evil Dead's excessive violence proved to be a most effective form of publicity, helping to turn this obscure first feature into an infamous cult film. When a quintet of not-particularly-bright college students vacationing in the Michigan woods accidentally revives ancient demonic spirits, zombies run rampant, and carnage ensues. The movie starts slowly, but once the horror kicks in, it never stops, right up to the very last frame. Most impressive is the way The Evil Dead turns inanimate objects into instruments of evil with little more than sound effects and elaborate camera moves: keep an eye on the recurring glimpses of the moon, alternately ominous and romantic. There is humor as well, mainly in the sly exploitation of genre cliches, such as Ash's (Bruce Campbell) unfortunate sentimentality over his girlfriend's necklace. Evil Dead spawned a black-comedy remake, Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn, and a time-traveling sequel, Army of Darkness.
All Movie Guide - Robert Firsching
A very well-done debut by young Sam Raimi, this is (unlike its jokey sequels) a serious-minded horror film that has fright as its main concern. Five college kids go to a remote cabin, where they find a book and a tape which contain incantations to summon demons. One by one they are possessed by the malevolent evil in and around the cabin, with bloody results. Pencils are stabbed through ankles, body parts are severed, and a woman is raped by an evil tree. The best scenes involve the chilling initial possession during a card game and the attempts by the hideously demonic Ellen Sandweiss to convince star Bruce Campbell to free her from the cellar where she's been locked. Fast-paced and filled with some amazing camerawork, (though the special effects aren't very special and give away the budget) it is a remarkably kinetic film, full of the energy that only independent filmmakers can seem to muster, and has more than its share of scares and chills.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/20/2014
UPC:
0013132620800
Original Release:
1981
Rating:
NR
Source:
Starz / Anchor Bay
Time:
1:25:00
Sales rank:
20,494

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bruce Campbell Ashley J. "Ash" Williams
Ellen Sandweiss Cheryl
Betsy Baker Linda
Hal Delrich Scott
Sarah York Shelly
Theodore Raimi Fake Shemp
Ivan Raimi Fake Shemp
Scott Spiegel Fake Shemp
John Cameron Fake Shemp
Sam Raimi Fisherman on side of road

Technical Credits
Sam Raimi Director,Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Bruce Campbell Executive Producer
Joseph Lo Duca Score Composer
Gary Holt Producer
Edna Ruth Paul Editor
Tim Philo Cinematographer
Bart Pierce Special Effects
Tom Sullivan Makeup Special Effects
Robert Tapert Executive Producer

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The Evil Dead 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first saw THE EVIL DEAD a few years back. Initially, I was a bit surprized at the level of gore used in this movie. But I grew to love the films classic horror style (which is heavily drawn from George A Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and other earlier horror films) mingled with Sam Raimi's enormously original camera work. Even better are the unsettling, disturbing sound effects and occasionally creepy score that present themselves at just the right moments throughout the film. At times, wrenching, startling noises will jolt you out of your chair, and at others low drones and wind will create a suspensful and creepy atmosphere the likes of which not many horror movies contain. The film's story is unoriginal and expendable at best, but it is aided heavily by Tom Sullivans artwork. For example, ''The Book of the Dead'' doesn't sound significant in any horror movie, but the actual book (which I own now, thanks to special edition DVD) plays such a big role in the movie (it was the films original title), you find yourself actually paying attention to the thing. The bottom line is, no film tops THE EVIL DEAD's level of gore, entertaining camera work, creepy atmosphere, raw in-your-face violence, unrelenting disturbing sound effects, and downright fun. If you love horror and don't own this film, well, get it.
Kasia_S More than 1 year ago
Anyone who watches horror movies knows how creepy a simple cabin in the woods can be. Throw in some dark scenery, evil trees, buried demons and a book made of human flesh called the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis and you know that something gory is about to happen. The five innocent University students who are planned a relaxing retreat in Tennessee have no idea what they are in for as they are about to uncover the deadly dark secrets that have been haunting the area for ages. Even undisturbed the morbid forces make the cabin feel like an unpleasant and disgusting place but once the door to the cellar blasts open on it's own, the students feel intrigued to explore - big mistake!

The overall feeling of the movie is of pure dread from the very beginning. The woods are not lush and green but brown, savage and eerie, something you would not want to see through a window of any cabin. Once our friends settle in strange noises start, which is the beginning of the end. If you like zombie-like ghoulish creatures that must have been dreamt up while in delirious tempest of a fever then this movie will not disappoint, it has all that and more. This movie is not suave and thrilling; it goes through body part chopping, screaming, running, stabbing, throwing up of blood and other questionable fluids of all colors, demonic possessions and false sense of security. It's a crazy movie and its little old, well not that old, but its more old school while these days CG monsters plague the blue screen, in Evil Dead some serious plastic puppets were taking center stage in this film and that made me like the movie a whole lot more. In parts it reminded me of "The Thing" because these were some really creepy and gross transformations, so fans of that fantastic movie should get a kick out of this.

This is part one of three, and after seeing part two this weekend I bet I know what to expect for the finale, more of the same gooey goodness.

- Kasia S.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's hard to believe that this film was made by a group of college friends. What they created back in their early 20's, was one of the most original, fun, and just pure entertaining horror films ever made. The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars, is because after this movie came out, they got a bigger budget and remade the movie (Evil Dead 2). This remake is a little better due to the larger budget, so it would get the 5 stars, but this original is still a great film that every true fan of the horror genre should make a part of their personal collection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
anastasiaoa More than 1 year ago
its got everthing u want in a horror movie. and its got my man bruce campbell in it. love him on burn notice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SoreThumbs More than 1 year ago
I love this movie it is very fun to watch. I'd see this movie any day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Real edge-of-your-seat movie. Jolting scenes that make you jump, time and time again. This movie has the ''stuff'' that horror movies are made of: Blood, gore, walking dead, deep woods, full moon, lots of ''fog''.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gore, Special Effects (not at all cheap), and Zombies. Makes Sam Raimi's Classic The Evil Dead A MUST SEE!!! The Second You've finished reading this review, turn off your computer and drive down to the closest video store and rent or even better buy it!!! Enjoy the Gore!
DrewBurns More than 1 year ago
It's silly and occasionally somewhat scary.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the posterboy for blood spattering 80's horror films. I'd love 2 tell you more about it but I dont wanna ruin it 4 you! If your like me you'll love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a legendary horror flick. The FX are phenominal and its a classic. One of the best horror movies out there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this movie to death. It's actually one of my favorites. I didn't just like it because it was a horror flick, I liked it because it had that subtle unintentional humor in it. The ''special'' effects are soo cheap and the lame one-liners will crack you up. Just watch this movie and you'll know what I'm talking about. If you're really into cheesy horror movies then this one is a must-have. Add this to your collection (like I have! haha) and you wont regret it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great film with a low budget. It has great camera angles and a great style. Im only 13 and I have seen the movie about 50 times and it still spooks me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Film is one of very classic horror film and I saw it first time when I was a kid,I was so scared and couldn't sleep few nights. So till now I actually not scared but really like to watch this movie so many time, Sam Raimi's work is superb. really amazing graphics and camera work he made in those old days in his young age.this is great hard work I love this boy.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Um, I saw this with my friend Gab at her house a while back. We made fun of it so bad..... it was hilarious. I mean, come on, WHO GETS HARASSED BY A STICK????? oh my god we laughed hysterically.