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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Evil Dead (1981)

As part of the Halloween marathon this year I wanted to do the Evil Dead. Not so much because I think people don’t know about it, but because I love the series so much. That means I watch the movies quite a bit and figured why not review them. This is another of those movies that I would hope that most horror fans have already watched. But I’m doing it anyway. If there is a theme to my review it is that Evil Dead might be a victim of its own success.

Ash, his girlfriend, sister, and friends head up to a cabin for a weekend of fun. They get there and find it run down, but not too bad. Though right from the start there is a spooky vibe to the place, like the porch swing that keeps pounding on the wall only to suddenly stop. After messing around a bit, they end up finding a shotgun, creepy book, and tape recorder in the basement. They play the tape, always a bad idea in horror films, and unleash something in the woods. That something possess them one by one forcing them to kill and maim each other. After much torture and violence there is only Ash left and he manages to destroy his possessed friends by tossing the book into the fire. It has to be all over, right?

Well there are two sequels and a T.V. series on Starz that probably says not! Still before we knew that these would happen the ending was pretty cool. He tosses the book, all his possessed friends melt, and he leaves the cabin. Only for the force to pop up and come screaming at him as the screen cuts to black. This is a perfect ending for a crazy scary movie. Many fans have seen Evil Dead so many times that they forget that it was quite frightening. There are jump scares mixed in with moments of dread that make your skin crawl. When Cheryl, Ash’s sister, jumps into the card game by correctly guessing all the cards in the creepy voice and then she turns so you can see her “demon” face it’ll make you jump. This is spooky as hell and executed perfectly. If you get a chance to show this to someone who has never seen any of the Evil Dead movies, then do so. It can be fun to experience it thru watching someone new to it. .

There are also many indications as to how great of a director that Sam Rami was and would be. The decision to make the force in the woods nothing more than a camera zooming along with some wonderful sound effects was perfect. Not only did it fit the low budget of Evil Dead, but stylistically it was unlike anything else that anyone had seen. It has been used so much by both Rami and his imitators since I think that it isn’t as appreciated as it should be.

Like I said, cool special effects work.
This brings me to my point earlier about the movie being a victim of its success. Most of us have watched this so much that the impact of both the scares and style brought to such a low budget horror movie is maybe a bit lost. The Evil Dead is a special flick that changed a lot of what was going on in the horror genre. I don’t remember the kind of bonkers demon possession films with blood and gore splattered everywhere before it. Without Evil Dead do we get Night of the Demons or Lamberto Bava’s Demons films? I don’t think so. We need to give Rami his props for adding to the fun that was eighties horror. One can’t live on Slasher movies alone. Trust me I’ve tried.

The special effects work in Evil Dead are decent. The possessed look creepy enough, especially the eyes which are covered with contact lenses. It isn’t top notch gore or creature design, but there is a style to it that I enjoy. I’ve heard some complain about the stop motion stuff at the end being cheesy. Again, I don’t think this is the same movie without that stuff. For the budget that they had this movie kicks ass! So, if you haven’t seen it you need to. If you don’t want to then… you suck. Sorry but I love this movie!

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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