Self-proclaimed as "The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror," THE EVIL DEAD marks the directorial debut of what may be the next great practitioner of this eternally disreputable form. Writer-director Sam Raimi and his college pals took the genre by storm with this amazingly assured and exhilarating horror exercise in which narrative and characterization take a backseat to sheer cinematic panache.
Five college students take shelter in an abandoned cabin deep in the woods, where they find a strange book along with a tape explaining that the book is an ancient Sumerian Book of the Dead. The tape translates some of the incantations in the book, and giant demons are unleashed in the woods. One by one the teenagers are taken over by the demons, until only Ash (Bruce Campbell) is left to fight the evil.
Shot in 16mm (and blown up to grainy 35mm) on location in Tennessee and Michigan on a tiny budget of under $400,000, this film has some undeniable technical limitations--and the acting is less than professional--but Raimi's wildly creative filmmaking turns these limitations into virtues that make
THE EVIL DEAD a landmark in recent American horror films.
While it set new standards in outlandish screen gore, it's never really too disturbing due to its old fashioned funhouse feel. Raimi does not aspire to dark satirical social commentary like Romero nor to psychosexual insights like Cronenberg; some boys just wanna have fun. Though genuinely
shocking and spooky, the movie has enough sick black humor and deliciously bad special effects to keep all the nightmarish imagery from getting too oppressive. Not for the faint of heart or those uninitiated in the ways of modern horror, it's a hoot for fans of the genre.
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- Released: 1983
- Rating: NR
- Review: Self-proclaimed as "The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror," THE EVIL DEAD marks the directorial debut of what may be the next great practitioner of this eternally disreputable form. Writer-director Sam Raimi and his college pals took the genre by stor… (more)