One of the most iconic of all cult horror movies, Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” is a masterpiece of everything non fans hate about horror. A group of college kids decide to take a vacation to an isolated cabin in the woods, where they find “The Necronomicon”, the ancient book of the dead, bound in human skin. Things go awry when the kids listen to an old tape recording of someone reading the book aloud, which sets the dark powers contained within into motion. The friends are systematically harassed and possessed, resulting in some awesome gore and the infamous “Tree Rape” scene. As any fan of the series would know, the only one to make it out is Ash, played by then unknown Bruce Campbell.
I opened this review with a fairly unexpected thought, that this movie is everything people hate. I’ll put it bluntly: This is not a great movie, as far as movies go. The acting is atrocious and the story is cliche. It is gorey to the extreme, it is unforgiving in it’s content and the characters lack character. When people think of “The Evil Dead”, they think of it’s funny yet scary nature and the character of Ash. Unfortunately, neither of these concepts are really exhibited in the original movie. Ash is a wimp and the movie is downright creepy, with laughs few and far between. Quite frankly, if you are laughing at all, you’ve got something wrong in your head. The second movie is the funny one, with even more ridiculous plot scenarios and Bruce Campbell’s well known one liners. To everyone that hasn’t seen this, be warned. What you are in for with “The Evil Dead” is a low budget horror movie taken to extremes.
All that being said, I had no intentions of bad mouthing this movie when I started the review, only to set the record straight. I think “The Evil Dead” is downright scary. The old 16mm film makes everything a little more intense and the amatuer lighting and score add to the eerie vibe. The scene where Linda turns into a Deadite (another term associated with the franchise but never introduced in this film) gives me chills every time I watch it. It will become obvious, but sadistic, childish voices scare the hell out of me.
The gore is definitely a high point for the film. I love almost anything made without CGI, and this one offers blood, guts and goo of the very real and very disgusting variety at every turn. Pencil in the ankle? Very much yes. Zombie hacked to bits and still writhing on the floor? Of course. While it may not be “professional”, you have to give the guys credit for a great special effects job. Insider scoop: The blood is made of a combination of Karo syrup, water and red food coloring to get the consistency correct.
“The Evil Dead” is exactly what people hate about horror movies, and exactly what I love. It is simple, and anyone can grasp the story. It has creepy atmosphere, intense scare scenes and buckets of blood. What it lacks in the character department it makes up for in wild camera angles and awesome, if low budget, audio effects. All in all, “The Evil Dead” is a must see for new fans, hardened vets, and is always on a true fan’s top 10 list.