EVIL DEAD, THE (director/writer: Sam Raimi; cinematographer: Tim Philo; editor: Edna Ruth Paul; music: Joe LoDuca; cast: Bruce Campbell (Ash), Hal Delrich (Scott), Betsy Baker (Linda), Sarah York (Shelley), Ellen Sandweiss (Cheryl); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Robert G. Tapert; Anchor Bay; 1983)
“An inspired gross-out horror pic.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The Michigan-born 22-year-old director-writer Sam Raimi (“Crimewave”/”Darkman”/”A Simple Plan”) filmed his debut film on Tennessee and Michigan locations for supposedly $50,000 and used a grainy blowup from a 16mm. It’s an inspired gross-out horror pic that is derivative, has no plot or character development, yet feels fresh.
Five clean-cut college student friends, Ash (Bruce Campbell), Scott (Hal Delrich), Linda (Betsy Baker), Shelley (Sarah York), and Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), take a vacation in a remote mountain spot in Tennessee. Their cabin is a rundown place, where an archaeological professor interested in studying the dead lore of the ancient Sumerians recorded his findings on a tape-recorder while dwelling in the cabin. The teens discover the recording in the cellar and play its forbidden phrases from the Book of the Dead. This releases the evil spirits, who now seek revenge. Soon the members of the group become possessed by the invisible demons and one-by-one they get picked off. The first one to be possessed and go zombie is Cheryl, who gets violated by the woods that suddenly comes alive and fucks her. The possessed turn into zombies who cannot die, and turn against each other. There are a series of bloody shocks throughout the night, with Ash the only one not a zombie and trying desperately to get out of there in one piece as dawn arrives.
Raimi’s first feature would be the start of a good career in films (he made the big-budget Spider-man films). This venture was strong on energy, mood, atmosphere, and showed that the young director could operate on a shoestring budget and come up with effective scary visuals. There’s also some comedy thrown in, as some of the zombies were turned into Three Stooges figures.
REVIEWED ON 7/5/2009 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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