I came to Evil Dead later than most. I discovered it in college.
Moreover, I had an unconventional introduction to the franchise. That is to say. I saw them completely out of order. I saw Army of Darkness, then Evil Dead 2, and then finally The Evil Dead. This may have affected my appreciation for the film slightly but I can see why people love it so dearly.
While I enjoy Evil Dead 2 the most, The Evil Dead has an immensely charming and chaotic soul.
In case you haven’t see the film, it centers on a group of teens who stay in a log cabin and find the Necronomicon Ex Mortis or the Book of the Dead. They read aloud from it and BOOM demon infused craziness ensues.
The film is directed by a young Sam Raimi and is starring a young Bruce Campbell. The Evil Dead, for being what it is, holds up pretty well. The effects are cheesy and the acting is over the top, but the story and the narrative devices that Raimi sets up are never less than functional and sometimes utterly brilliant.
More than anything though, you can feel the love for cinema. Watching the movie you can feel that the people behind the camera are having a ball and they’re just trying to share that enthusiasm with you.
Sam Raimi also makes the best of what he’s given. Inventiveness must be his middle name because strapping the camera to a two by four and running around with it is both a stroke of genius and completely amazing.
Bruce Campbell’s performance is adequate and completely serviceable but watching him in this role you would never expect either A) Ash would go on to become a horror Icon or B) Campbell would evolve into arguably one of the biggest B-movie kids of all time.
The atmosphere in The Evil Dead is what really sets the film up to be anything more than a forgettable drive gore fest. The world is both massive and microscopic at the same time. Raimi does a wonderful job of showing how terrifying the woods are and how claustrophobic the house is. You can see, even at this fledgling age, Raimi has both talent and skill.
The Evil Dead is quite possibly one of the most simultaneously under-rated and over-rated cult films ever. The Evil Dead is by no means in the same category as Night of the Living Dead, but at the same time it’s contributed so much to the horror genre and the world of modern cinema. In some ways it’s a toned down Terminator. Terminator is a wonderful little film, but Terminator 2 changed film forever. That’s, in some ways, how I feel about The Evil Dead. I love it, I enjoy it, and I watch it often, but most of my love for it comes from Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness.