Director – Sam Raimi
Cast – Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DiManincor, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly
Release Year – 1981
Reviewed by John of the Dead
There are quite a few horror films that stand the test of time, and are still respected and adored today just as they were decades ago. In 1981 pre-iconic writer/director Sam Raimi and pre-iconic horror actor Bruce Campbell gave us The Evil Dead, one of those films that despite a low budget, still manages to give us more “true horror” than 90 percent of horror films that have come after it. This film is not only one of the most loved horror films of all time, it is the base of one of the most loved horror trilogies! With each sequel arguably just as good as it’s predecessor, this franchise gave us what very few other trilogies have give us…good sequels!
The film starts off with a group of five friends traveling to an old cabin that one of them rented for a weekend of fun…and fornication most likely. After hanging out for a while and settling into the cabin they begin to hear strange noises, and decide to explore the creepy, unused rooms in the cabin. In one of the rooms they find an old tape recorder, along with a nasty looking book made of human skin, which includes drawings of demons and unidentifiable script written in blood. Being the curious young adults they are, they decide to sit around play what is on the tape recorder. Unfortunately for them, a professor named Dr. Knowby was deciphering the “Book of the Dead” they found and vocally documenting the results, which happen to be passages for demon resurrection! The five friends must now battle the unseen demons that reside in the woods and walls around them, spelling out certain doom for them all.
This film is a perfect example of how far imagination can take you. With such a low budget, it is simply unbelievable that Sam Raimi was able to accomplish what he did visually with this film. The immense gore, and other grainy, yet awesome visual effects are a great contribution to an already great story. Not to mention this film also kicks out a lot of laughs from its viewers with Sam Raimi’s odes to slapstick comedy constantly inserted into the film. The fact that the majority of this film takes place in a small, creepy looking cabin really sets a claustrophobic tone for the viewer as our characters, being chased and slowly possessed by demons, really have no where to run or hide. This aspect of the film keeps you on the edge of your seat as you make yourself constantly aware that with such a small setting, anything can happen…at anytime. I love it!
The musical score and sound effects for this film are amazing as well. Very much like the score from Dawn of the Dead, this film’s music sets an eerie, very creepy tone that keeps you constantly telling yourself “There is no way any of these characters are going to survive this…no way!”. The sound effects for the unseen demons were amazing as well. It is actually Sam Raimi’s distorted voice you hear commanding the poor group of friends to “join them”. Excellent stuff!
I really have no complaints for this film other than small, minute flaws that you would normally expect with a low budget film. Slight gaps in audio/visual sync, and some other goofs are all I can really dock this film for, and even this this film is so amazingly entertaining that those goofs don’t even matter in the end.
Overall, this is an amazing film that blends a great story with great gore and great laughs. Definitely recommended for fans and non-fans of the horror genre.