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By James W, Thursday 13th January 2011
Of all the films to be caught up in the Video Nasty phenomenon of the early 80s, one title stands above all others, Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead.
Completed in 1981 and originally released in the UK (simultaneously in cinema and on video) in 1982 with 49 seconds of cuts, the film hit the Video Nasty list soon after and remained there for sometime. Eventually it was released on video in 1990 where an extra 69 seconds were removed. It wasn't until 2001 when the UK got its first official uncut edition.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The story of The Evil Dead starts some years back, in 1978 when Raimi, alongside Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert raised enough money to create Within The Woods, a short horror piece that was created to show possible future investors, their talents. It retains many elements from this piece such as the infamous floating camerawork which, at times, is just outstanding and total genius. It has never been given an official DVD release, something Evil Dead fans still cry out for.
It impressed many and after raising an initial $90,000 shooting on the feature started in 1979 but wasn’t completed until 1981 when it was screened under the name The Book Of The Dead. The title was changed under the advice from movie distributor Irvin Shapiro and with a tagline from Stephen King, “The most ferociously original horror film of the year” it was unleashed unto an unsuspecting but appreciative horror audience.
Bloody, brutal and pretty raw, The Evil Dead is a celebration of the horror genre, pushing back boundaries of acceptance by adding dollops of dark humour to the gallons of on screen blood and gore. Raimi displays early flashes of brilliance with his camerawork and sound effects which give the movie a surreal feeling. Time hasn’t withered its impact or subject matter so be warned, this is not for wimps!
The effects are raw but real, no CGI fixes here, giving it a classy old school feel. The violence is often rewarded by an amusing pay-off, well except one scene in particular (a sequence in which Raimi went on record in the late 80s said he regretted putting in) and constantly keeps the audience on edge. Bruce Campbell, who plays the reluctant hero Ash will be forever labelled as this unfortunate character. He puts his all into the movie, throwing himself, literally into the physically demanding part.
Few horror movies have made such an impact on our culture as The Evil Dead has. It’s been attached to numerous games (including one for the Commodore 64 and Spectrum computers back in 1984), was turned into a Musical and the constant rumour of a sequel/remake is always doing the rounds. One thing is for sure The Evil Dead is a true benchmark in horror entertainment and the ultimate experience in gruelling terror.
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