Stuff I Watch in October: The Evil Dead (1981)

Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Psycho (1960)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: The Evil Dead (1981)

evil dead

DIRECTOR: Sam Raimi. Dude did two more of these. He also did the great “Darkman”. Then he went on to do the first three “Spider-Man” films for Sony as well as the underrated “Drag Me to Hell”. Dude is bringing us “Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madnees” soon. I cannot wait.

WHAT IS IT?: “The Evil Dead” is balls-out, insane fun. Gory, goofy, a rollercoaster.

THE PLOT: A bunch of college kids go to a cabin in the woods and accidentally discover “The Book of the Dead”, an ancient text “bound in human flesh and inked in human blood” which contains passages in some form of Latin which, when read aloud, awakens demonic forces. The demons inhabit the bodies of the kids, causing all sorts of bloodshed.

Of course, this is one of the most insane horror films you’ve ever seen, so the only way to deal with these suckers is if you hack them apart, limb from limb.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: I combed the Internet for an original review and could not find one — but the film is well-loved with a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. For good reason.

WHAT DID I THINK?: Does the movie sound gross and unappealing? Oh, yeah…it’s disgusting.

It’s also SO inspired and SO much fun.

Directed on a shoestring budget by the great Sam Raimi (and starring a very young Bruce Campbell as “Ashley ‘Ash’ Williams”, the movie has shades of nearly every single phantom possession story you can think of from “The Exorcist” to Suspiria” with a little bit of “Ten Little Indians”, “The House on Haunted Hill”, and “The Legend of Hell House” sprinkled in.

This isn’t about the performances (although they’re pretty convincing from a fairly amateur cast) so much as it’s all about the artistic nature of the entire thing.

Raimi uses handheld camerawork for much of the picture along with zooms and POV shots which makes you feel like you’re right there with Ash as he struggles with the demons around him. The best of these is the now-famous Demon POV shot where you get to see a chase through an area from the demons’ point of you.

It’s a hell of a film and one which shocked a lot of horror fans and critics out of a stupor of sorts.

The downside is that it’s more than a bit exploitative, featuring a disturbing rape scene that I cannot and will not get into describing. It also tends to be overly-serious, something which changed with the sequels.

Still, “The Evil Dead” is a rush and one of the most surreal and horrific pieces of art I’ve ever watched.

GRADE: B+

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