The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead, 1981; directed by Sam Raimi; starring  Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor

Oh what a nasty little Tuesday we’ve got planned for your next movie.  The little indie that could – and by could we mean could revolutionize horror movie making in the early 80s, crack you up *and* decide to go just that little bit too far.

These days Sam Raimi is best known as the director of the Tobey Maguire Spiderman movies of the early to mid 2000s.   But back in the late 70s and early 80s he was a kid from Michigan obsessed with movies.  With his buddies, including Bruce Campbell (possessor of the most impressive chin in post 60s Hollywood, next to the late Robert Z’Dar of course), they messed around with a camera and made this indie.

Shot on a shoestring budget on what was apparently a nightmare shoot, The Evil Dead is the scariest low budget movie you will ever see that also includes some wacky three stooges homages.  A group of young people rent a cabin in a deserted woods, sight unseen, and almost immediately weird things begin to happen: a clock pendulum freezes in mid-swing, cellar trap doors burst open, a reel to reel tape recorder is found with the voice of a research inciting strange incantations.

While the acting has at times the wooden awkwardness of a microbudget production, over all the cast works well enough for an 80s isolated in the woods horror flick.   But even amongst the low budgeted proceedings Raimi’s considerable skill with building suspense and creating scares is evident. And his innovative camera shots showing the unseeable evil forces closing in from their perspective are just fantastic.

While there is a scene in the first half of the movie, where the forest comes alive, that I foreshadowed in the lead to this write up where Raimi pushes the proceedings to a sequence that is possibly too vicious (even for those looking for the shocking and over the top), overall we here at Pop Teez find that The Evil Dead is one of the tightest and most thoroughly enjoyable indie horror movie of the early 80s. Two sequels, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness would appear in the late 80s. The sequels would employ more and more (of that three stooges inspired slapstick) humor as well as Raimi’s increased directorial skills and film budgets.  And most recently 2 seasons of a series called Ash Vs The Evil Dead appeared on Starz in the fall of 2015 (though we’ve not seen all of the first season, we are happy to report that it carries on the themes and quality of the films).

But Evil Dead is the one that started it all and worth a viewing if you’ve never seen it.  And, like we mentioned here with Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein, worth another viewing if it’s been while

Dr. Vorhees