This week’s release of Evil Dead, the remake of cult 1981 horror The Evil Dead will have die-hard fans waiting with baited breath. Will it be as good? Will it be better? There’s no denying the strength of the original and despite its very dodgy ‘special effects’ it will always have a special place in the hearts of those who were literally scared out of their skulls the moment the Book of the Dead was read aloud and a group of friends, prepared for a trip full of sex, R and R and more sex saw their nightmares become reality.
Long before he directed the original three Spider-Man films, Sam Raimi came to the attention of a legion of horror fans the world over with this grotesquely dark and humorous affair that brought the ‘teenagers stuck in a cabin in the woods’ genre to the forefront of the film industry as well as posing the question, when does bad taste become something else entirely? The particularly gruesome scenes within The Evil Dead may no longer look awfully realistic but they’re still bloody disgusting, and disturbing to watch.
The story follows five university friends: Ash (played by cult hero Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend Linda, sister Cheryl and two friends, Scott and Shelly. They vacate to a cabin in the Tennessee woods and prepare to do nothing but chill out; however events take a nightmarish turn when they discover a book bound with human skin, known as the ‘Naturon Demonto’ and a tape recorder that plays incantations, both of which ultimately release long dormant evil demons. Each one of the friends, bar Ash are then possessed, leaving him to do battle with the forces of darkness with nothing but a cracking sense of humour and a chainsaw.
Raimi originally created a short film called Within the Woods in order to gather the $100,000 plus needed to create the full length feature which would become The Evil Dead, eventually succeeding and at the tender age of 20 directed his first movie. There are some scenes that have obviously shot straight from a teenage boy’s imagination, namely one in which Cheryl is brutally raped by a tree, curiously though, she seems to enjoy it, giving the effect of an actress in a porn film, as opposed to the fragile and shocked victim of a serious assault. There’s also boobs-a-plenty on show which seemed to be a common denominator in many 80’s horror films. The gore comes thick and fast and despite it now looking incredibly outdated (syrup for blood etc) you can’t help but wince at the brutality Raimi so obviously wanted to demonstrate to audiences. The forceful suspense coupled with an innate feeling of isolation is what plays on your mind as you watch this film. As Ash creeps around the cabin, unsure of what will lie behind each door, you can’t help but feel as though you’re there with him, holding your breath until whatever terror is lurking makes themselves known. There’s a strong humorous tone throughout The Evil Dead which makes it that bit more fantastic. The combination of this and the gore makes it a classic.
Bruce Campbell’s Ash has become a cult superstar and the film has spanned two sequels and computer games since its release over thirty years ago but before you even think about flitting through these and the remake on Thursday, I insist you see the original because there simply isn’t anything else like it, really.