In 1981, a rookie director filmed a low budget horror movie and released it to an unsuspecting audience. I wonder if Sam Raimi had any idea just how much of a cultural impact The Evil Dead, and its sequels, would have on society. Not only would this movie start Sam Raimi’s career and lead him to eventually direct some of the most successful films in Hollywood, but also make Bruce Campbell one of the more recognizable actors in Hollywood. Not bad for a movie that was originally rated X. So let’s get on with today’s movie, The Evil Dead (1981)
The plot: Five friends (Ash, Linda, Cheryl, Scotty, and Shelly) decide to travel to a deserted cabin in the Tennessee woods for a vacation. While eating dinner, the door to the basement suddenly opens and when Ash and Scotty go to investigate, they discover the Naturon Demonto, an ancient Sumerian book of the dead, as well as some tapes of a professors research into the book. While listening to a tape of some translations, they unknowingly unleash an ancient evil into the woods. One by one, they all become possessed by demons, with sh the only one unchanged, and the only one left who can stop this evil from spreading.
Critics were very positive about this movie, with it receiving a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Most of them agreed that the low-budget gore and shock effect mixed with the black comedy made this an instant classic. The budget for this film was somewhere between 100 and 400 thousand but it would more than make that money back. It only earned about $2,4 million in the US but made $27 million in the foreign box office so the total earnings was $29.4 million. The funny thing is that in spite of the success, The Evil Dead didn’t quite establish itself as a cultural standing like it is considered now.
The first time I saw this movie, the one thing that stood out was how creepy it was. The scene where Linda was just sitting in the doorway and laughing at Ash freaked me out when I was a kid. As an adult, I can appreciate it a lot more. Considering that this was essentially an “indie” movie, the acting and effect were pretty decent. Actually, the effects were way better than some other horror films that came out that year. I thought the scene with the blood pouring out of the walls and fixtures in the basement was incredibly well done. The story was definitely the best part about this movie. I don’t know if Raimi originally intended to make this into a trilogy but this movie was definitely able to fill the role of a stand alone horror movie, or the opening number to a series.
So the first film in one of the best cult trilogies out there is definitely worth watching, so long as you don’t mind the blood.
Rating: 4 out of 5