The Evil Dead (1981)

The only evil here is Mary Whitehouse getting this film banned

Five college students, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), his sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), his college roommate Scotty (Hal Delrich) and Scotty's girlfriend Shelly (Theresa Tilly), all go for a vacation in a cabin that's isolated within the woods. Ash goes into the cellar and in there finds a horrific book (known in the sequels as the Necronomicon) and an audiotape. They play the tape, which is a recording of a man chanting an incantation, which unwittingly releases spirits and demons (known in the sequels as Deadites).

For his debut feature length film, Sam Raimi shows very good skills behind the camera, using a variety of camera angles throughout to great use, from a pan view of the cellar to a scene shot from the point of view of the locked away deadite, and a great direction of his envisioned film, giving us greatly styled sets and locations, while managing to tremendously build up the tension using everyday ordinary objects, such as a ticking clock and a running film projector. Raimi showed great promise early on in his career, and it's great to see he hasn't wasted it, but managed to live up to it.

In this day and age, it's great to see horror movie characters that don't take up their screen time with running and screaming to great annoyance, but act more realistically, as these are characters who have been pushed to their breaking points, fearing something that would've seemed outlandish had they stayed home, easily snapping and being forced to do something they would not have believed they could do. Bruce Campbell is especially good, playing the everyman who still holds hope that his friends can be saved, hesitating to kill their rotted deadite bodies.

The tension is built up greatly in this film through as many ways as possible, including the use of everyday objects, the numerous camera angles and even within the setting, as the living characters are forced to defend themselves against the deadites in such a small cabin, giving off a claustrophobic feel that helps to enhance the tension not just for the characters, but for the audience also.

I enjoyed how simplistic the film actually was, in terms of plot, scenery and even the villain. The fact that they didn't make the film one about a villainous being who kills everyone and the nightmare ends with their death, but a non-physical, unseen force makes the film stand out even more, and what more, it makes it even harder on poor Ash to stop the nightmare. Kudos has to be given to Raimi and his brilliant mind that made this film..This.

As much as I've been praising this film, it does boast a number of faults, the biggest being the inclusion of the infamous vine-rape scene, which may have had the vines animated very well, but still feels like an unnecessary inclusion that's been tacked on. The dialogue can also at times venture into cliched territory, and the deadite make-up sometimes manages to look dated, but it was early days for Raimi, and we can let him off for this.

The Evil Dead is indisputable proof that you do not need a big budget in order to make a brilliant film. It is also quite an inspirational film for aspiring film fans, as Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell struggled throughout making the film and raising the film's budget, experiencing problems at every single turn, but in the end, made one of the greatest horror movies ever.


Jeff SC said…
I didn't love it that much. I had trouble figuring out how serious I was supposed to take it, lol. Nice review, Rodders!
ParanoidCreep97 said…
Great review, a very groovy film :)
Jesse P said…
Over the years i have seen my fair share of Gore flicks, Evil Dead tends to make my top 20 horror's and bloodiest moments in a film. But overall fantastic review for a Grovey Fucking film.

Though have you ever seen Within the Woods? The before Evil Dead film?
James Rodrigues said…
@Jesse I have not seen Within the Woods, but I have heard of it, thats the film preview Raimi, Tapert and Campbell made to show their investors what they'd be doing, they did that to raise money for the films budget

@Jeff SC Of the trilogy, this is the one you take the most seriously. Evil Dead 2 you take much less seriously, and as for the 3rd part, only take it a little bit seriously, as it's mostly humour over horror
Tom_Film_Master said…
I thought this was a great film and t is impressive as a directorial debut. Great review James!
HarleyQuinn said…
I might like to see this. great review!