The Evil Dead was a film I couldn’t wait to see. A legacy of its own, whispers of its greatness can be heard echoing throughout horror island and other creatures fear it. Released in 1981 and written and directed by one of the kings of horror, Sam Raimi, this film will leave you cringing and more than a bit nauseous. My best advice - don’t make my mistake and watch it while eating dinner.
The Evil Dead follows five friends to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of relaxation. Undoubtedly bored and regretting their decision to come, they find an old recording, and while listening to a man tell of evil in the woods, they unknowingly release that evil upon themselves. The true greatness of The Evil Dead is that the evil is initially intangible. Like a ghost story told across a campfire, the evil that lurks in the woods is not a person or a pack of wolves, it is simply an evil force, an idea. Once infected, however, the evil possesses a person and turns them into a raging psycho.
The Evil Dead has a lot working for it: the shaky, erratic camera angles are fun and used in a pure way, yet to be ruined by overuse decades later. The film has a very low budget feel to it and this only benefits it. The special effects are terrible, but in a charming way. There isn’t much of a plot to this film, either, but crappy special effects and barely any script seem to be what makes this film the cult classic it is today.
The 80s were a time for campy horror, and even though this film came out in 1981, before the storm truly hit, it was nice to watch a film from that time that wasn’t campy. The five friends never do anything wrong in this film, except perhaps responding a little too nonchalantly to some of the evil things they see happening. There are no drugs, no underage drinking, no forbidden sex... barely any sex at all! This group literally arrives at the cabin and spends the night talking and listening to an old recording. It’s pretty much the opposite of campy horror, and that’s why it’s better. (Did I just say that?!?)
I can’t finish this review without mentioning the hands down, best feature of this film. And there’s just no way to sugarcoat it. The Evil Dead is without a doubt the most disgusting horror film I’ve ever seen. Not only disturbing, but ridiculously gross. There is so much blood and so many disgusting... I can’t even formulate the perfect phrase. This film is a true slasher movie and I loved that about it, but it is a lot to sit through. Not a favorite for the ratings board, this film was slapped with an NC-17 rating in 1981 for substantial graphic horror. In 1981 it got an NC-17!
A remake of this film (produced by Raimi) is releasing in a few months and I’m not sure what to expect. Optimistically, I hope the film retains its horrific nature and seeing as Raimi is producing it, I want to believe this will be true. However, I do know that you can’t get away with a nature rape like you used to, and I’m not sure 2013 can handle this movie in its pure form. A film full of true evil, brilliantly directed and barely written, The Evil Dead is a cult classic that will forever define horror. There’s no question with us, The Evil Dead is saving horror. Hell, it is literally what’s keeping horror island afloat. Turns out, that’s not water surrounding the island, it’s actually of all the blood used in this film.
If you liked The Evil Dead, you might also like Evil Dead, The Conjuring and The Possession.