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'The Evil Dead' Review: The Most Cult-Worthy of Them All

Sam loves movies and enjoys science fiction, zombie movies, and pessimistic survival films.

Sequels and spinoffs may be better, but nothing can really beat the original "Evil Dead" that started it all.

Sequels and spinoffs may be better, but nothing can really beat the original "Evil Dead" that started it all.

"The Evil Dead" Started It All

There is a moment in The Evil Dead where our dandy boy/hero Ash (Bruce Campbell) unintentionally activates an old cinema projector in a cursed and obscure basement. After battling with a demon, the front lens receives a splash of blood. The image projected on the wall magnifies the blood that slowly covers everything, darkening the place.

That clever detail, brief and easily missable, perfectly embodies the indomitable creative spirit that made The Evil Dead the most popular cult film of all time. Driven by the power of the now and the locations, director Sam Raimi decided to make that shot (as almost all of them) on-the-go.

The Evil Dead was a magical project. It started the inner flame of a collective of artists whose movies are already legendary. It was the career launching pad of Sam Raimi and the beginning of the cult figure status of Bruce Campbell. Joel Cohen was the co-editor and, completely inspired by the wild spirit of this crew, decided—together with his brother Ethan—to take control of his own destiny and start producing and directing their own stories. The Cohen Brothers would end up creating films like The Big Lebowski, Fargo, and No Country for Old Men.

Movie Details

Title: The Evil Dead

Release Year: 1881

Director(s): Sam Raimi

Actors: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker a.o.

The Place of Nightmares

Make no mistake, The Evil Dead was also a film production nightmare. Pressures about money and limited time, constant accidents in the cast & crew, and a remote, hostile location have made those involved still remember those days with a nostalgic feeling of survival. Not for nothing, Sam Raimi has always said that this movie was his "rite of passage."

But interesting enough, these obstacles were the fuel for the creative spirit. The tortuous experience with the creative impulse of some young filmmakers who were beginning to understand the potential of their abilities was the ideal combination in order to magnify this film. You can feel it on the screen.

And it's understandable. The Evil Dead is practically an allegory of that film production nightmare. This is a movie about a group of young people who start an adventure with the best attitude possible and end up struggling against unknown demonic entities to get out alive on the other end. This is basically the description of any first feature, especially with the levels of creativity and ambition that this debut had.

The Evil Dead had a low budget, but that didn't prevent the fact that practically every shot had an extra technical requirement. This is a movie full of amputations, giant rapist trees, cursed books that speak, special dramatic lightning, unique camera movements, humans possessed by demons, and a lot of blood.


Raimi as a Director

Raimi's direction is one of the most inspired and inspiring debuts in film history. In every cut, you feel his obsessive need to innovate and convey the atmosphere of the history. His Dutch angles effectively stress situations. For those frenetic first-person-view shots and the complicated travelings through the forest, Raimi & CIA designed different gadgets and cranes and experimented with various ways of navigating with the camera. For another scene in which two corpses had to decompose/melt, Raimi made use of claymation to be able to come up with an option that was visually effective and economical.

The Evil Dead is a rare and unique case because it shows both the authenticity and fun of the low-budget organic splatstick together with artistic sensitivity and great technical creativity.

Be sure to check out our ranking of the Evil Dead movies.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2018 Sam Shepards