THE EVIL DEAD
The first time I saw THE EVIL DEAD was in San Diego back in the eighties. What made me and my friends choose it over the hundreds of other things available that night, was the fact that Stephen King had a blurb on the movie poster. He called it ". . . The Most Ferociously Original Horror Film Of The Year. . ."
Considering the fact that it was yet another of the "Goofy young adults go into the woods and get slaughtered" flicks that were popular at the time, it was and is hard to figure out just what is so damn original about it. Then again, the movie was so low budget that I seriously doubt King was paid for his endorsement, so who knows? King works in mysterious ways.
The film has rose above the dross of the many other movies of the same tack. You don't see FRIDAY THE 13th promoted like this one.
For example, when I went to buy my copy of this flick, there were five different ways to go. The cheap video with the original movie poster for a box cover; the digitally remixed sound and picture version with Bruce Campbell on the cover, raising a chainsaw over his head, and being held by a screaming woman who isn't even IN the movie (trivia questions anyone?), yet a third, fourth and fifth cover in case you didn't like the first two, and a special edition that comes in a very special plastic shell box and has loads of collector goodies to go with it. Me, I just got the one with the good sound and picture.
What helps this film succeed are the odd angles and the lighting which give the film an almost verite (You Are There) look. The house in which the victims gather is photographed with a claustrophobic eye to detail. It's this cinematography that really carries the movie through.
The story itself is full of the same stupid vehicles that you would come to expect from such movies. Victims like Shelley (Sarah York), who goes out into the Woods(!) Alone(!) at Night(!) because she is certain that she is on the trail of the Thing(!) in the Basement(!) that Scared(!) her. She gets raped by some trees but makes it back to the house in time to turn into a Thing In The Basement, herself.
The madness builds slowly but surely until the final showdown where gruesome body parts are flying, exploding, decaying, and I'm having a whale of a good time. The acting is awful and so is the script, but the "stars" of the flick are sincere in their efforts and it shows. Despite the clichés, they make you believe in their characters enough to suspend disbelief, make you care, and pull off the fright. Bruce Campbell (EVIL DEAD 2, ARMY OF DARKNESS, DARK MAN, SPIDER-MAN), as Ash, is sympathetic enough to make you root for his survival. This movie is still camp all the same and has more than a few unintentional laughs.
With EVIL DEAD 2, Director/Writer Sam Raimi recognized the embarrassing parts of his earlier work and didn't simply make a sequel so much as film an EVIL DEAD parody, loaded with humor. ARMY OF DARKNESS was the third sequel in this series and made a few changes to the original again. All three movies are perfect to watch with some friends in a marathon and I recommend it! Just make sure, when you tell your horror loving fiends that you are having a "Dead" marathon, that you specify THE EVIL DEAD and not NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
For all of its camp and corniness, THE EVIL DEAD contains some genuine frights. Who would have thought, to watch this movie, that Sam Raimi would go on to direct one of the most sensitive and original "Super Hero" movies with DARKMAN and SPIDER-MAN? Not to mention the critical darling, A SIMPLE PLAN?
I give this movie 4 Negative Shriek Girls. THE EVIL DEAD is bad in a really great way!
Did I buy the THE EVIL DEAD: Book of the Dead Anchor Bay Entertainment edition? Oh you bet I did.
It came last night, I was the UPS guy's last stop in this two bit Arizona town. The book comes wrapped in pretty plastic packaging with a yellow paper top, all sealed and fine. On the back of the yaller paper top is the only thing that let's you know the contents. They aren't written anywhere within the actual DVD book. Howzabout that? I guess the Raimi's are saving that for a future edition where they make another SE and leave yet something else out.
But I'm no collector, I'm a fan, so I tore the pretty plastic and paper box to shreds and laid my hands on the soft squishy rubber flesh of the DVD book.
Oh ho ho ho YES! Sooo PERFECT!
I made sure I was all alone, (I HATE pausing the disk so some idiot can go to the bathroom. This is an event you moron: Every time we do it!), turned off all the lights, sat down with a dead fish (I love eating fish), my bottle of V8 Splash (I'm partial to Orange Pineapple), and watched in happy awe!
So much, so very much to see and learn! Sigh!
I'm told there are Sci-Fi fans who argue over the merits of Star Trek vs. Star Wars, and Horror has its mirror. Horror movie fans and friends often argue over the merits of the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD movies and THE EVIL DEAD movies. It goes on until I slap them around and tell them to shut the hell up while the movie is on.
This Book Of The Dead edition (The original title for EVIL DEAD was Book Of The Dead) makes the third THE EVIL DEAD some kind of special edition or other DVD I've purchased. I'm a sucker I know, but this is the last THE EVIL DEAD DVD I'm going to buy. The others go off to the used book store or something. THIS is the Primo copy!
I can quit any time.
This edition is the best time to quit too because Anchor Bay took everything that they squirreled away here and there in their other editions and put them all together in this one volume.
1. A really cool latex "flesh" DVD cover designed by original THE EVIL DEAD artist Tom Sullivan. The guy who designed the book for the movie as well as the "look" of all the varmints. The book interior is taken from, and inspired by, the original book design. Tom can draw skulls all day long, doncha know, and true Deadites can read Tom's Introduction:
DEDICATED To Those Who Bled For The Evil Dead and their families, Friends, and Fans TS.
2. Inside the first book is a second booklet written by Deadite fan, Michael Felsher. The book was designed by Mike Ortiz!
3. Widescreen 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
4. Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Sam Raimi and Producer Robert Tappert.
5. Audio commentary by Bruce Campbell
6. Behind the scenes footage and outtakes
7. A short (26 minute) documentary by Bruce called FANalysis (some of it is shot in Austin Texas! Yes!)
8. DISCOVERING EVIL DEAD: an 18 minute documentary tracing the film's history (from a British point of view)
9. Theatrical Trailer
10. Lame TV Spots.
11. Poster and still gallery
12. Talent Bios
13. Digitally remastered in THX
14. And the languages are in English and French
For those who never bothered before, it's a hoot to watch the movie in French!
What's more, the DVD menus are some of the best I've ever seen!
Any gripes? Just two: That thing about not having all the DVD features listed within the actual DVD case and two, the DVD comes in one of those sleeves that scratch the hell out of your DVD every time you pull it out to watch it.
I've got an easy fix for that, though. I have a few old clear CD cases laying around with cracks in their shells. I'm just going to take the clear plastic CD bed out of the jewel case, cut away the flanges so its flat, tear off that stupid slip cover that came with the book, and hot glue the plastic in there to keep the CD all nice and off contact with anything.
Then I'm going to track down Campbell & Sullivan & the Raimis and have them SIGN the sucker!
Now THAT'S a collector's item yall!
Something to pass down to the kids for sure!
GODDAM but this new DVD is FINE!
5 f*cking Shriek Girls!
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