“We can’t bury Cheryl. She’s our friend.”
If you looked in Webster’s dictionary under the term “cult classic,” chances are you would find (or at least should) find at least one reference to the Evil Dead trilogy. Filmed in 1979, The Evil Dead is one of the first movies to combine the genre of comedy and horror. If you’re a fan of the original Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elmstreet, or Halloween movies, do yourself a favor and skip the rest of this review and head on down to the video store right now.
The first thing that must be mentioned about Evil Dead is the “look” of the movie. While it’s hard to explain, there are many shots, camera angles, and other low budget special effects that are rather fresh looking 25 years after the movie was first shot.
The plotline to this movie is rather cheesy, but that should almost be a given when you think about the genre it comes from(80’s horror…) Anyways, five friends go to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. While there, Ash (played by cult classic icon Bruce Campbell) finds the book of the dead and a tape recorder. When playing back a recording by the professor who used to live in the cabin, they awaken the “evil forces in the woods.” One by one, the teens start being turned into zombies known to followers of the movies as “deadites.” Eventually, it is learned that the only way to truly kill one of these deadites is by complete body dismemberment.
Which brings me to my next point… this is definitely one of the bloodiest and goriest movies that I’ve ever seen. While it’s not done in a realistic style a la Saving Private Ryan, it still is either really gross or really funny, depending on what way you look at it.
If you take Evil Dead for what it is, it’s a really enjoyable movie. While Bruce Campbell is never going to nominated for a lifetime achievement award by the Academy, he does a good job of playing the hero Ash. It’s a fun movie to throw in with your friends at 2:00 in the morning. Definitely give this one a chance… especially if you are a horror fan.
Video & Sound
It was shot in 1979 and it was on a tight budget even then, so you know it’s not gonna look prestine. In some ways, though, the old look almost adds to the feeling of the movie. There are a couple short clips that look especially bad, but as a whole, the video is watchable. Definitely not something you’d put in to show off your new hi def tv to your friends, but it works. Surprisingly, the audio is very good especially when you consider it has a Dolby 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby 2.0, French Dolby 2.0, and two commentary tracks. While it obviously wasn’t shot in 5.1 surround, it has been remastered mastefully (hehe).
The most important extras on this DVD are the two commentaries. The first, with director Sam Raimi and producer Rober Tapert, provides quite a bit of background information as to how the movie was shot, where it was shot, what was going on the day of the shoot, who was smoking wacky weed while shooting a particular scene… it’s pretty entertaining and worth a listen. As is often the case, I think the commentaries to low budget movies are the most interesting to listen to some of the shortcuts they had to take. The second commentary features Bruce Campbell who also is quite interesting. He has a few interesting stories about both the making of this film and also how being a bit of a cult icon has affected his career. One interesting story he had was about someone who got a piece of the rock from the cabin which he signed at a film convention. I prefer the Bruce Campbell track myself, but both are worthy of a listen.
Also included on the disc are 18-minutes of behind the scenes footage and outtakes. Many of these are funny and while they won’t add much to the film watching experience, they are at least good for a laugh.
Also included on the disc is a 26 minute featurette about Bruce Campbell. Being that he is a cult hero, many of his fans are a tad bit on the extreme side (think… kinda like Trekkies). His interactions with fans are hilarious as a few of them are a bit akward and a bit too exciting to meet them (think… kinda freaky). It also is nice to see him away from the spotlight because it shows a totally different light. If you’re a fan of the movie, I think this is a must see.
While it’s not the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, it’s a good flick. If you are looking for the version of the dvd that I reviewed, however, beware! Never has a franchise of movies (Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness) been re-released so many times. I counted as many as 4 versions of The Evil Dead, 3 versions of the Evil Dead 2, and as many as 7 (can that be right!?!) versions of Army of Darkness.
Movie – 7
Video & Sound – 6
Extras – 6
Overall – 6