The Evil Dead (1981)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 9.8/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 9/10

THE EVIL DEAD (1981) - Sam Raimi

The ultimate experience in gruesome terror sure holds up to this day. Thirty-two years ago, director Sam Raimi had a vision -- a vision that links with a philosophy that he carries in the horror genre. This philosophy is "the audience must suffer. The audience must squirm, cringe, and drown in the blood put on screen." Even when it was made with budget below $400,000, at a time with no computer-generated imagery, The Evil Dead still reigns supreme today as one of the greatest horror films of all time.

Simple enough, the film revolves around five college students, Ash (Bruce Campbell), his sister Cheryl, his girlfriend Linda, Scotty, and Scotty's girlfriend Shelly. The group decides to vacation in an isolated cabin in the woods, where they find a videotape recording of a man who finds a Sumerian variation of the Book of the Dead. As the tape plays incantations of the book, gruesome demons are unleashed, slowly possessing each member of the group, leading to a bloody and gory chaos.

From the very first shot of the film to the very last, the film proves that its budget was indeed tremendously low. Shot on classic 16mm, The Evil Dead gave birth to Raimi's most iconic shot: the traveling shot. Being the first of its kind, the shot is one of the first that delivers a POV effect on the demons instead of the humans. Inevitably, it gives the effect that something really is chasing our characters.

The screenplay, dialogue, and acting are all laughable cheese. Though the Evil Dead franchise is known today for having its badass hero Ash, the original film has Ash as an overreacting tacky nut. As for Scotty, it is very difficult as well as funny to follow his character when he is being serious. In the beginning, he's a jokester. When the horror begins, he's a serious character that you cannot take seriously. Admittingly, the characterization in The Evil Dead wreaks of quirkiness. But then again, the whole point is to see these characters suffer, right? Boy, do they suffer.

With only makeup, animatronics, and stop-motion on their side, the filming crew bring about what is known as one of the grossest and goriest films ever. And once it starts, it does not hold back. By the time the film ends, you will find yourself exhausted, but in a terrific way.

Watching The Evil Dead today, you will definitely be impressed by their stop-motion. It is so good that it can fool your eyes quickly as computer-generated imagery. As for the animatronics, they are real objects on the set interacting with the actors. As a result, the horror generated is much more real and terrifying -- it is organic and absorbing no matter how many times you watch the film.

Oh, and the last ten minutes are absolutely amazing.

Just because the film was made in 1981 does not mean this film is a lot easier to handle today. The Evil Dead is still not for the faint of heart, and it still remains as one of the most controversial films ever made -- it contains notorious scenes that pop culture has all addressed today, from a rape scene to a dismemberment scene. Come to think of it, these five students are probably the unluckiest people on Earth. All they did was play the tape, and all this hell broke loose.

Many requested this review of The Evil Dead after reading my raving review on the 2013 remake. The most common question asked was: Which one is better?

I can admit one thing: I saw the Evil Dead remake first, and then I went back in time to see Raimi's classic. Now that I have finally seen the original cult film, I have a brand new admiration and respect for the remake. I can also say that even though the remake's animatronic effects and makeup are superior, the original Evil Dead is scarier, and this is only because the original fell under the hands of a more skilled director -- one who knows how to handle pacing and tension and surprises. Otherwise, at the end of the day, I adore the original Evil Dead as much as I adore the remake, but in different ways, and that is the best way to handle it. Don't compare the two. Admire both.

In conclusion, The Evil Dead still holds up in its tagline: The ultimate experience in gruesome terror. The film is gory animatronics at its very best, ranked up in the top with other horror classics like John Carpenter's The Thing. Though it is evident that its budget was low and appears today as a really cheaply made film, The Evil Dead still works after 32 years with the help of the hardworking crew and director Sam Raimi. Oh, and allow me to suggest two things. One: Watch the original Evil Dead and then watch the remake. Two: Watch the original Evil Dead and then watch The Cabin in the Woods.


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