- Sam Raimi directed The Evil Dead at age 22. That is simply incredible. It is shot in a foggy 16mm, and it is rated NC-17 (which is proof poor, young Raimi did not have Spielberg’s legal team).
- Raimi’s The Evil Dead shows a wealth of ingenuity. The exaggerated audio of the porch swing slapping against the cabin in the opening is a splendid effect– but just the beginning.
- These are young college kids (the Michigan State gear) on a trip to a cabin in the woods- three girls and two guys. The set up (and low budget horror appearance) is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre-there is even a tool shed early on in the film that looks similar (though this is Tennessee, not Texas). They find the book of the dead in the cabin—and mayhem ensues.
- The strong-jawed Bruce Campbell stands out from the rest of the cast even if you did not know of his future pairings with Raimi.
- Joel Coen was an assistant editor working on the film. This is three years before he and Ethan would make Blood Simple.
- Black smoke on the moon is a marvelous touch—to a lesser extend so is the white-out eyes on the possessed. Raimi has that Mario Bava-like gift for instincts when it comes to atmospherics. In another scenes the blood comes out of the electrical outlets.
- Raimi’s use of the shaky cam (my first memory of seeing it) is a mini revolution. It is a modified point of view tracking shot—the camera flies through the frame. Raimi uses this to simulate the spirit in the forest- which has a marvelous effect. Like Jaws, it is not the appearance of the shark that scares, it is the anticipation. Raimi knows what he has here with the shaky cam and even ends the film on this shot as the camera flies into Campbell’s mouth.
Raimi loves these beautiful shots from below in the cellar- similar to Tarantino’s (he’s a decade before QT of course) trademark trunk shot
- The film walks the fine line of horror and horror comedy (certainly Raimi would lean into the comedy in the sequel)- Raimi has a clear respect for the history of the genre with the tongue already inserted in the cheek.
- A great shot of Campbell’s character (Ash) showering dirt on the actual camera for the burial scene.
At the 72-minute mark, the wall clock and canted angles- surrealism—the best two minutes of the screen are Raimi flipping the camera upside down to pivot right in front of Campbell’s character.
- I have read many reviews that seem to be grading this film on its budget curve, which is just not what I do- even if I admire Raimi’s resourcefulness.
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1981
Drake, not to step on your toes in case this page is the start of a Raimi retrospective, but what do you think is Raimi’s best movie and what grade would you give it?
@Haider- I’m not quite sure yet, still finishing up a small little study- but Evil Dead II does feel like the answer so far.
Love this man, for me Raimi is a top 250 directors & the Spider-Man trilogy are the best superheroes movies.