Title: The Evil Dead
Year: 1981 (released 1983)
Dir.: Sam Raimi
Producer(s): Robert Tapert, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell
Writer(s): Sam Raimi
Company: Renaissance Pictures
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Hal Delrich and Sarah York.
April 9th, a Tuesday evening, I decided to watch The Evil Dead before writing this blog. I’m glad I did because there is a lot to digest after not seeing it with fresher eyes.
The Evil Dead is the first in a line of films and television projects created by Sam Raimi (also did the original 3 Spider-Man films, Drag Me to Hell) and recognized by the lead protagonist Ashley “Ash” Williams, portrayed by Bruce Campbell.
This is the original “cabin in the woods” story but instead of a serial killer, there’s a supernatural, demonic presence laying dormant until you know, they play the tape and everything comes to life.
It’s a fun film, definitely more horror than comedy which is where Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness comes into play. It’s gory, it’s dark, gritty, heavy. But the one highlight to talk about is the camera work. The camera work is very cool in this movie, especially the point of view shots that we get.
It’s mostly noticeable in the beginning and ending of the film where we, the audience, are basically the demonic presences/spirits lurking around and I believe Raimi accomplished these scenes by using a bicycle and boards on a little trolley. I think he did magic tricks or was a magician and so little tricks like that came in handy.
The acting is okay, a little stiff at points but I think the actors come to life, ha-ha, when they become the deadites and they have the makeup and special effects on them and around them where the acting goes up a notch. It’s probably a “I’m wearing a mask, I can be a little more flexible since I’m a bad guy”. Of course Campbell does a good job of going from very mild mannered and respectful to just full on crazy by the end of the film.
The other highlight is the special effects/claymation that shows up towards the end of the film. The famous meltdown of the characters is still pretty cool and graphic. It looks wonky in today’s terms but it works. The transformations of the characters into “deadites” is effective, still holds up. I can only imagine how insane the shooting of this movie was.
Color use is quite interesting in this movie. There is a mix of cool tones and warm ones throughout but I can only remember how red the blood or blood mixture is in the movie. I guess the lack of warmth within the deadites is interesting to bring up as well. They lost their human lives, their spirits, their warmth and it’s replaced with cool tones to identify death. You can see it in the makeup and lighting but that’s how I see it. I could be wrong. There’s also some very cool shots throughout the movie and I think those come from the genius of Raimi and possibly Campbell as well. The moon slowly being overshadowed by this black, dark presence, closeups of Campbell’s face, the angles, lighting choices like pinks and red but instead of creating the warmth, they look ominous.
For a movie that is made/shot (1981) and released in 1983, it looks very 70s. It’s in that same category of The Shining where the year it’s made or released looks nothing like what it should.
The next film coming up is Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn and it’ll be interesting to compare the two films on the same levels of use of lighting, angles, camera work, etc. Since both are quite similar in setting and the environment, it is easier to go this route than looking at Army of Darkness which does not take place at a cabin or in the woods at all. So please come back and check out next Saturday’s post of Evil Dead 2. I’ll do my best at taking notes.