The Evil Dead (1981)    2 Stars

“The Ultimate Experience In Grueling Terror”

The Evil Dead (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)


Director: Sam Raimi

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor

Synopsis: Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.







Sam Raimi’s infamous horror movie – which found itself embroiled in the equally infamous ‘video nasties’ furore of the early 1980s – still looks pretty good today despite all the trappings of a young film-maker still finding his way on a meagre budget.   The cast is made up of the usual suspects – a bunch of overage actors playing college kids vacationing at a spooky cabin in the woods, who this time foolishly play a recording made by the previous tenant, a student of the occult, which awakens the wrath of the eponymous forces.

Rather than allowing the restrictive budget to temper his ambition, Raimi used it to fire his imagination and ingenuity, which is why this horror has a kind of vitality that others lack.   The sequence in the woods, during which one of the female characters is raped by a tree, makes use of little more than speed and clever camera-work to create an exceptionally suspenseful incident that marks the begin of a descent into hell for the movie’s lead character, Bruce Campbell (The Ladykillers, Machete Kills).

There’s not so much of a humorous element to this first film in the franchise, although the constant cackling of Campbell’s girlfriend after she is turned into one of the evil dead serves notice of the kind of madness that was to follow in the second movie.   This one plays more like a straightforward horror flick.   The only real criticism is that Raimi has a tendency to dwell too long on each incident so that it continues playing out long after the initial shock or scare has worn off, meaning that the pacing of the film feels a little off.   It’s a minor gripe, however, and Raimi redeems himself with that great final shot.

(Reviewed 2nd March 2012)

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