By Cole W. (Madison, ME, USA)
Sam Raimi, whose name has been associated with movies such as the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, The Quick and The Dead and Drag Me To Hell, made his major motion film debut with the iconic 1981 horror movie, The Evil Dead. Starring Bruce Campbell in his first major motion picture, the “ultimate experience in grueling horror” takes place in an old abandoned cabin in Morristown, Tennessee.
Five students from Michigan State University are on vacation, and they stay in a cabin in the woods. But little do they know that an ancient evil lies dormant within the woods. An evil that can only be resurrected by reciting from a Sumerian funerary text entitled “Naturom Demonto”, translation: Book of the Dead. The book deals mainly with demons and demonic resurrection. Upon recitation of passages in the book, the demons are given license to possess the living. As the spirits in the book are accidentally awakened, the teenagers struggle to survive through the night.
One of the aspects of the filmmaking that I loved was the quality of the movie itself. Given that it was 1981, coupled with the fact that the movie was filmed on a very tight budget, the special effects were excellent. It seemed to give off a, “small budget film pretending to be a big budget film” vibe. Between blood-spurting and smoldering corpses, this movie was done with relatively simple special effects, but they looked believable. The film industry should do more movies like The Evil Dead, where the special effects included colored syrup for blood, green dyed candy corn for zombie guts, and a smoke machine to make the ‘corpses’ smoke, rather than use CGI for all of that.
Another aspect of filmmaking that I really liked was that the movie didn’t resort to a lot of jump scares like most modern horror movies do. The movie was just all around dark, ominous and creepy, which is what I like to see in a horror movie. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like surprises in horror films, but not if there are constant surprises to substitute for a plethora of dull, humdrum moments. That’s the problem with using excessive amounts of jump scares in horror movies; the more surprises there are, the less surprising they become.
Watching the film kept me on the edge of my seat, kept me under my covers, and gave me nightmares for three days… and I loved every minute of it. For an early 1980’s production, the overall quality, production, and content of the film was excellent, not to mention ahead of its time, and I would definitely recommend this movie to any fan of horror movies. After all, famed American author Stephen King didn’t cite The Evil Dead as his favorite horror film for no reason…