Everyone who knows me, knows that I am one of the biggest 80′s fans out there. It was my time, my Generation, & oh, what fun we had! In the year 1981, it was an interesting time for films. JAWS and STAR WARS ruled the 70′s, and with EMPIRE STRIKES BACK taking over as the biggest film of 1980, the 80′s were off to a good start and it would only get better! In 1981, in the world of Horror films, there was basically one thing that ruled the box office: slasher films!
Yes, the psycho who ran around with a mask on, carrying a big knife, killing hot no- talented actress’s, for no apparent reason – ruled the genre. By the end of the 80′s, that would burn out, only to make a “comeback” in the 90′s with Ghostface from the SCREAM films. With slasher films like Halloween 2, Graduation Day, The Burning, Funhouse, My Bloody Valentine, Friday the 13th Part 2 and a hundred others – horror was all about the “man behind the mask”. Low budget, skeleton crew, cheesey sets, bad actors, weak dialogue, and cheesey make-up effects is what the teenagers wanted and that’s what they got! It was the Independent Horror films that were starting to make their way through the cracks of the big blockbusters. During this year, there was one film that took everyone by surprise: THE EVIL DEAD.
This was a film directed by “then unknown”: Sam Raimi. Yes, the same man that would bring us the MEGA SPIDERMAN franchise many years later, but back then – he had to start somewhere, might as well been in Horror films. He took a small crew to the WAY backwoods of Tenn., a budget of around $50,000, unknown actors (at the time), and one of the cheesiest horror films made ever! It was this film that launched the career of one of the biggest character/low budget actors & Icon of his genre; Bruce “the chin” Campbell. Bruce went on to do TONS of cheesey horror films, but it is his character; Ash, that has made it’s mark on the genre. A mark as big in some circles as Jason or Freddy, but this time, it’s the Hero that is known so well.
The story is simple; a group of teenagers are off to spend the weekend in the woods and “stuff” happens. Well, this time, there’s no crazy killer with a mask, big knife, or teens doing sex, drugs, or anything else like the other slasher films out there. This time, it is all about…evil spirits! See, while they are at the cabin, they discover a book called, Necronomicon aka “Book of the Dead“. They also discovery the owners of the cabin had left a taper recorder explaining his fine, the book, and what it all means. However, while the recorder is playing, it’s then releasing the curse of the Necronomicon. Each of them get possesses by the evil spirits and it is up to our hero; Ash, to save the day.
There is so much going on here in this film – it has an original story, some really bad & cheesey F/X (blood that’s “suppose” to be red, but is either orange and at times, blue!), over the top acting & effects, some comic relief, fast camera shots that zoom through the woods up to the cabins door, a “sexual encounter” with one of the girls in the woods with a tree?, oatmeal make-up, and real close-up shots that only can be donethe way an Independent director can do it. This film is the cream of cheese, however, it is it’s sequel: THE EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN that really is the fan favorite and Cult classic! There was a 3rd film: ARMY OF DARKNESS, which concludes Ash’s fight against the demons, but it had too much budget to make it the same cheesey classic way of it’s first two films.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since Raimi scared the crap out of us and made us think twice before entering the woods again, but it’s films like this that define what the Horror genre is all about…a real fun time! Happy Anniv. Evil Dead!!!
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Sarah York, Hal Delrich
Music: Joseph LoDuca
Budget: $350,000 – $400,000