The Evil Dead 1981 ★★★★½

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-The Evil Force

The Evil Dead. Sam Raimi’s now legendary low budget cult classic. What more can possibly be said that hasn’t already about this truly magnificent masterpiece? A young Raimi, just 21 years old at the time, takes a handful of unknown actors and actresses into a cabin in the woods. He leaves with one of the most twisted, demented and utterly genius horror films of all time, and one which propelled both him and Bruce Campbell into the limelight as literal Gods of the genre. Everything about it oozes brilliance.

The premise and plot are simple, as five friends visit a cabin in the woods. Once there, they discover a tome called the Necronomicon, and unleash an unspeakable evil that has been lying in wait in the forest. The Evil Dead truly embodies low budget horror, as Raimi makes excellent economical use of his resources and bleeds every penny dry from the restricted production values. The cinematography is masterful throughout, from the tense opening through to the gaudily over-the-top conclusion. The fast motion sequences are terrifically well done, and it all works methodically to create genuine terror and suspense.

The atmosphere Raimi manages to create and maintain is altogether remarkable, finding the perfect balance between humour and a taut and sincerely frightening tension. Often films that attempt to blend horror and comedy find themselves leaning too much into one genre, but Raimi creates an almost faultless formula that impeccably combines both. The effects from Tom Sullivan are the work of a true mastermind, bringing new meaning to both extravagant and ghastly.

The acting from most of the cast is rather average, bar the magnificent Bruce Campbell, but it is more than made up for by the witty, albeit very cheesy, script. Campbell stands head and shoulders above the others in a role that was made for him. He represents everything that is great about the genre, the badass, no-nonsense, incredibly likeable and infinitely quotable hero of the ‘80’s.

Instead of hindering the film, the low budget actually makes it all the more outstanding. Without the support of big studios, Raimi is forced to find and create new, innovative methods of filmmaking, which make The Evil Dead original. It also meant Raimi was able to deliver his vision in all its grisly, gory and gruesome beauty, free of the encumbrance of studio expectations and rules. It’s not flawless. It’s not for everyone. But it is within a hair’s breadth of perfection, an experience so unique and original it spawned many imitators and influenced countless films that came afterward. Sam Raimi crafts a work of sheer, uninhibited genius, an astonishing miracle of a film that breathed new life into the genre and shall forever stand the test of time.

VERDICT; Without a shadow of a doubt one of the most enjoyable films ever made and a real spectacle to watch, more so when considering the limitations of the budget. A real masterpiece of the macabre, and one that revels both in its exaggerated ferocity and self-aware flamboyance. A true horror classic in every sense of the word.
4.5/5 or 9/10 (Almost, almost perfect.)

2 Comments

  • There's something about the thought of tree rape that always unsettled me the most about this film.

    Fantastic review by the way. Completely agree.

  • Thanks very much. Yes Raimi certainly doesn't hold back with this one, i still don't like watching the pencil in the ankle scene!

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