The Evil Dead (1981)

Written & Directed by Sam Raimi

This movie is ridiculous. Okay, so my movie IQ has been steadily growing over the last couple years, but I must admit that my horror IQ is quite low. Despite loving the films Halloween and Scream, both of which appear on my Top 100, my horror knowledge is very shallow. Many of the classics are films I have not seen, or at least not seen within memory, like Psycho. So this October I will be making an effort to delve deeper into the classics in the genre, of which I have enjoyed almost everything I have seen. I just love all the silliness of it, and it can sometimes be genuinely terrifying, even if I am usually a very hard scare.

To me, Sam Raimi is the Spider-man guy, and also the guy who directed that baseball movie with Kevin Costner that I like, well because it’s a baseball movie (For the Love of the Game). But his reputation is that of a horror director, being one of the more important filmmakers in the genre in the 80s, starting with this, his directorial debut which he also wrote. Basically five friends travel to a remote cabin in the mountains as a getaway and the night they get there they unknowingly awaken dead spirits which come to inhabit the bodies of the young group. Ash (Bruce Campbell) is left to protect what is left of his friends and try to survive the night himself.

I think this is a great example of why the genre is not taken seriously by the majority of people. There are perhaps more obvious examples, but this is a film which manages to incorporate what I feel are detractors of large audiences. The special effects are very low budget, which is often one of the more common routes for horror films. They can be downright laughable at times, but this also gives the film a certain charm not found elsewhere. I can forgive the film its low budget and cheap tricks, mostly because of the buckets of fake blood used. I don’t know what it is, but I love me tons of fake blood and this film delivers. It is actually quite gory, even if it does involve a tree rape amongst other atrocities.

The story is also pretty simple: young group goes to cabin, most transform and try to kill the others, they try to survive the night. There is a hint at relationships and a meaningless charm is even exchanged, but there really is nothing to this film, which is why I suspect most critics shy away from horror films: lack of what they might call “meaningful” plot. The stupid fun that can found in these movies is amazing. Like I said, I do not scare all that easily, and this film never really scared me, though that was mostly because of the stereotypically stupid decisions made by its characters and the atrocious performances, especially from the films star Bruce Campbell. But like I mentioned earlier, this poor quality gives the film a strange charm as well.

I have certainly seen better made horror films, even for a small budget, and this film didn’t really do that much for me at all. But I did manage to enjoy myself, utilizing the completely dark basement “home theater” I have set up. Not a film I would come back to and it did not leave me wanting more, but I can imagine including it in a sort of horror marathon with friends one day, just not as the main event. To its credit, it had some really creative camera work, even if the horror POV was probably overused, but then again I admit my horror background is weak, so maybe the POV was something new and fresh back then. If anything else, the film has me excited to delve into some of the classics of the genre in the upcoming month.

 

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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