Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Evil Dead (Raimi. 1981)

"Naturum De Montum, roughly translated: Book of the Dead."

Nobody ever said that every movie in the 1077 was going to be great. I knew coming in that this was not a list of the best films ever made. Rather, it is a list of films that have gained some sort of cultural significance over time. That explains why the list contains movies like Sam Raimi's cult horror classic, The Evil Dead. Honestly, there is nothing good about this movie. That may be what I like so much about it

The plot of the film is incredibly easy to follow. Five young people are vacationing in a run-down cabin in the Tennessee Mountains. While searching the cabin, they find an old book with frightening pictures. The book is accompanied by a tape recorder. The tapes explain that the book is called the "Naturum De Montum" (Book of the Dead. Bound in human flesh and written in human blood, the "Book of the Dead" has the instructions on how to bring horrible creatures back from the dead. These monsters wreak havoc on the five friends after they accidently summon them awake.

Our hero, Ash, is played by the always entertaining Bruce Campbell. This is the performance that launched him to "B-movie" stardom. His acting style is stiff, rigid and ultimately not very believable. But that may be what fans like most about him. Ash starts the movie as a scared and unmanly watcher of the violence. But as things get out of control, Ash takes over. I have met Bruce Campbell and I can tell you that he is still very proud of this movie. You can tell when watching The Evil Dead that Campbell enjoyed being a part of it.

When most people think of this Raimi/Campbell franchise they immediately think of over the top gore. Made on a $375,000 budget, The Evil Dead earned its reputation as one of the fakest looking gross-out gore fests in horror history. You would think that Raimi would have spent more on sets and props, but it looks like he spent most of his budget on fake blood. It pours wildly from every wound. The final moments are highlighted by thick rivers of it.

There is also a strange scene where one of the women in the cabin is raped by a tree. Weird, right? This scene is actually somewhat hard to come by in certain areas due to it being ban in some countries and on some of the home video releases. Luckily, I guess, you can see this awful moment on the version that has on instant queue.

With tunnel shots and gratuitous blood galore, The Evil Dead has become an underground classic for horror fans. Sadly, that does not make it a very good movie. The acting is awful, the direction is sloppy and the monsters look horribly faked (even for 1981). With its flaws, The Evil Dead is still an entertaining movie. It is perfect for the Halloween season when you're looking for something lighter than another Saw...

The Evil Dead: C

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