The Evil Dead, 1981.
Directed by Sam Raimi.
Starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Hal Delrich and Theresa Tilly.
Five students journey to an isolated cabin where they find The Book of the Dead and unwittingly release an evil force from within the woods.
The first outing in the deliciously campy Evil Dead series from horror-mogul-turned-blockbuster-helmer, Sam Raimi (Spider-Man trilogy, Drag Me to Hell), has just the right amount of splattering gore and unexpected laughs – if you’re into that kind of thing; otherwise it’ll be genuinely terrifying. We’re set up with a simple enough storyline – a group of ‘good looking’ college kids drive off to stay in a relative’s cabin for the weekend in the woods – the perfect setting and victims to take part in a night of screams and splattering organs.
In the first few hours of their stay, the group wander round the cabin, trying to settle in by exploring the creepy basement, where they find a mysterious ‘Book of the Dead’ and a tape recorder – which they set up and play. Unknowing to the students, as the tape rolls, sprouting out a mysterious chant; they are resurrecting the evil forces that surround the cabin, determining their own fate and triggering off a wonderfully choreographed bloody mess.
Some axe chopping, gouging out a pair of eyes, a Shallow Grave-like burial, cackles of creepy laughter from Linda (Betsy Baker), the protagonist, Ash’s (Bruce Campbell) girlfriend, and ridiculous makeup, make Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead a real treat. Though the acting isn’t exactly on par with Oscar winning performances, The Evil Dead isn’t trying to be a serious – it knows its audience and is not afraid to let the actors run loose ‘hamming’ their way through the scripted dialogue and shooting a couple of faces or two while having a good ‘ol laugh about it.
Even through the bloody delights of the movie, Sam Raimi’s detailed eye for interesting shots, light and colour overshadow the goings on, making The Evil Dead a surprising pleasing visual feast, and certainly a taste of what the cult director had to come.
Ahead of it’s time, The Evil Dead had a massive impact on the horror genre, spawning a never-ending cycle of other movies dedicated to getting a few laughs out of the audience, but none of them could do it quite like Raimi had fantastically achieved in his debut. The Evil Dead is a must-have purchase for your horror shelf, though I warn those who are the tad squeamish at the sight of blood or a dismembered limb– this is not a movie for you- and I suggest you stick to something on the lines of Paranormal Activity where nothing happens.
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