Directed By: Sam Raimi
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Richard DeManicor, Theresa Tilly, Bob Dorian
Subgenre: Demons & Possession
Synopsis: Five college friends are vacationing at a cabin in the woods when they unwittingly unleash demonic forces.
Thoughts: The genre term classic gets thrown around in the horror all too often, but in the case of The Evil Dead, it is well deserved. There is no questioning the raw nature of The Evil Dead, both in the subject matter and in its production. Sam Raimi and his friends went out into the woods of Tennessee and a couple of years later delivered this gem to the masses.
Not only did The Evil Dead launch the career of Director Sam Raimi, but also of genre favorite Bruce Campbell. Campbell delivers the first incarnation of the role that made him famous; Ash Williams. While the comedic aspects are not as evident here, you can still see Campbell’s flair for the theatrical. Campbell isn’t alone though. I thought both Betsy Baker and Ellen Sandweiss delivered very realistic portrayals. It’s not every day that an actress has to get through a scene where she is raped by a possessed tree, but Ellen Sandweiss delivered.
I’ve never met the guy, but Sam Raimi has got to be a fanboy of the nth degree. While his roots are steeped in horror with The Evil Dead franchise, the guy is also a force in the comic book genre. Obviously he brought us two very good Spider-Man movies (as well as a third that was a mess due to studio meddling), but he also directed the underrated Darkman in 1990. Raimi is a name that always catches my attention when it is tied to a project.
The Evil Dead is also one of the infamous Video Nasties, although not as one of the 39 prosecuted films. While I haven’t watched all the films on the list, this is pretty mainstream compared to most of them. I imagine the “angry molesting tree” scene had a lot to do with its inclusion on the list.
The Evil Dead belongs on a short list of “must-see” genre movies, not only for its importance to the genre, but because it marked the beginning of the careers of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. If you haven’t seen this staple, make it a point to check it out.