The Evil Dead was writer/director Sam Raimi’s breakthrough feature film. Made over several years on a small amount of money, the film makes the most of its minimal budget, with every drop of blood (in this case corn syrup), sweat and tear felt in every terrifying, blood splattered frame.
The plot of the film concerns 5 friends spending the weekend in a cottage deep within the woods. Once their, they mistakenly evoke a flesh possessing evil spirit who takes over the group, leaving only Ash (Bruce Campbell) left to fend for himself.
While its two sequels contain a strong comedic element, The Evil Dead is a straight forward, hardcore horror movie. It features some pretty intense, gross out stuff, as flesh is torn, limbs are severed, and blood is spilt. A lot of blood.
One scene depicts a demon zombie devouring her own hand, while another has a female character raped by a tree (which led to accusations of misogyny from a number of critics). As a result, the film was banned from a number of countries, and was considered a “video nasty” in the U.K. The fact that it still has the ability to shock in today’s torture porn times says something about the violence on hand.
The films strength lies within Raimi’s innovative filming techniques, especially in regards to his now patented manic camera angles, POV shots, and ferocious tracking shots. Also, the make-up department does an impressive job turning the films cast into murderous demon zombies.
However, the terrible acting by said cast (even though it is fun watching a young Bruce Campbell cut his teeth on screen) brings the film down a notch, and there are glaring mistakes throughout in regards to continuity due to various re-shoots over a 2 year filming period.
As far as low budget horror films stand, this is definitely one of the best. Yet it will not be until its superior sequel/remake Evil Dead II that it’s true potential will be seen, along with Campbell’s and Raimi’s vast talents.