Day 9 (Alex): The Evil Dead (1981)

Getting a little behind on my reviews, but I'm determined to push forward, and catch up.  Day 9 brings us to the cult classic, The Evil Dead, from 1981.  Not the remake - but I'll review that later this month.  

Now, let me start off with a bit of my personal history in watching horror films and reading horror novels. In my preteen years, I became obsessed with both horror novels and films, starting with Stephen King's Pet Semetary. The best part was that my mom allowed me to watch basically any horror film I wanted, and even watched them with me, so long as there wasn't nudity.  After a year of watching everything from The Shining to Poltergeist to The Howling and much, much more, I got a hold of my first zombie movie, Dawn of the Dead.  My cousin was in from out of town, and we watched a marathon of movies earlier that day, and we popped in the VHS for Dawn of the Dead. I was enthralled with the idea of the Undead!  We sat there, eyes glued, when we heard a scream.  Mom came down to the basement, saw these dead people walking, and said "No". I don't know what it was about that day, whether it was the zombies, the fact my cousin was there, or if she was just in a bad mood.  All I know is that movie was packed back in its case and sent back to the video store. And, you want to know something?  I never watched a zombie movie, or anything with zombies, until The Walking Dead premiered. So, this is one reason why I'm having this marathon.  To catch all of these zombie movies I missed.

Enough of that, on to the review.  Wow!  What a film!  I can't believe this was missing in my life, BUT I got to experience seeing it for the first time, which is something many of you can't say right now.  I loved so many things about it: the cinematography, the creatures, the special effects, and that book and all the creepy stop motion work.  The story behind Sam Raimi and the cast and crew's hard work and dedication to this film is inspiring, to say the least. They put together a 30 minute short based on The Evil Dead called "Within the Woods", and used that to find investors to back the feature film. Spending many nights in freezing temperatures, deep in the Tennessee woods, they managed to put together an impressive film.  Is it perfect? Not at all.  There is cheesy dialogue, campy acting, unclear genre definition, (is it horror? no, it's comedy!), and my favorite gaffe, visible crew abound in many of the scenes.  

But, the shots in the woods as well as in the cabin were groundbreaking in its time.  Raimi, by force of budgetary constraints, came up with innovative ways to move the camera. As Stephen King said, “Somebody ought to tell Kubrick, Spielberg, et al, that there’s really nothing to this stuff. Just bolt the camera to a two-by-four and run like hell.”  And run like hell they did, banging into trees, yet somehow not knocking themselves out.  It's this shaky, dynamic POV shot that really gives the film its character, as we see from the eyes of The Force, going for the kill.

The best story involving The Evil Dead is how it almost didn't make it.  Stephen King, after seeing it at Cannes, gave the film much visibility with his review.  He wrote “What Raimi achieves in The Evil Dead is a black rainbow of horror." The rest is history.

I'll share more tidbits as I write my review soon on The Evil Dead 2.  But for now, let me close with this. If you've seen The Evil Dead, and I know you, why?  Why didn't you ask me if I've seen this and implore me to see it ASAP?  If you've not seen The Evil Dead, then what are you waiting for?  If you don't watch anything else this Halloween season, watch these movies!  NOW!

The overall score for this one is 6 bits out of 8.  I really want to give it an 8, because I just loved it so much, but I'm reserving a couple of bits, since I expect part 2 is going to be pretty sweet!

Here is where you can find The Evil Dead via streaming. I see that Starz has it now, so if you are a lucky subscriber to that channel, you're in luck!