The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead (1981)

Static Mass Rating: 3/5

Release Date: Oct 11th, 2010
Certificate: 18
Running Time: 85 minutes

Director: Sam Rami
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Sarah York, Hal Delrich, Betsy Baker

It’s hard to think that a much loved horror classic like The Evil Dead was banned in the UK for almost 20 years, becoming one of the original “video nasties” along with other notorious titles such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left, but that’s exactly what happened.

Made on a modest budget, the story of The Evil Dead surrounds a group of 5 friends who drive up to a cabin in the woods for the weekend. When they arrive, it’s not what they expected at all; completely run down and with none of the creature comforts they were hoping for, they decide to make the best of it and stay. There’s lots of old junk lying around including a weird book with a twisted face on the front cover. Digging around in the basement one of them finds an old recording and they decide to play it back, it contains incantations from the book they found earlier.

The recording unleashes evil spirits which possess them one by one. First Sheryl, who is tricked into entering the woods and is then raped by the trees, then Shelly, followed by Linda. When Scotty finally turns, it leaves Ash as the last man standing and of course the weekend is completely ruined when you have to hack your friends into pieces to stop them coming back as deadites.

What’s particularly enjoyable about the Evil Dead is of course the comedy aspect of it. While it might have scared the living daylights out of audiences 30 years ago, watching it now it looks rather tame. Scenes where Scotty takes an axe to Shelly or where Linda gets a pencil jabbed into her ankle can raise a chuckle because there is no way any of it could be real. Even more so is the scene where Ash beats Linda over the head repeatedly with a rather large plank of wood while she cackles manically. Though I must admit, the tree rape is rather disturbing, especially in the final shot of that scene.

• All New Commentary with Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell
• Picture-in-Picture: Join us! The Undying Legacy of The Evil Dead
• One By One We Will Take You – The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead
• Treasures from the Cutting Room Floor
• At the Drive-In
• Discovering Evil Dead
• Ellen and Drama Teacher
• On-Stage Interview
• Make-Up Test

As a Blu-ray release, it doesn’t disappoint. The picture quality is really good for a film that’s 30 years old and they’ve cleaned it up pretty well. The extras which they’ve packed on the disc are also worth the purchase even if you’re an Evil Dead fan who already had it on VHS and DVD. There’s a new commentary, deleted scenes and make-up tests, but it’s the 40 minute plus documentary One By One We Will Take You – The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead which was really interesting. Featuring interviews with cast and crew members from the film along with Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim) and Eli Roth (Hostel, Last Exorcism) who talk in depth about how Evil Dead made an impact on them as filmmakers which was really insightful.

Definitely one to pick for that Halloween horror marathon this year!

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