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  • Writer's pictureMw Horror Reviews

The Evil Dead (1981)

This is a film that never really connected with me when I first saw it as a young teen, yet every time I've revisited it since I have gained more and more appreciation. Not only does it cement for me both Campbell and Raimi as icons of horror but sets in motion so many horror tropes that later go on to be a staple of horror as a genre. This is a premise seen so much these days in horror - a creepy cabin in the woods with a group of friends to which onslaught then ensues. Let's not forget this is where it all started, this story of a man trapped in a cabin who one by one kills off his friends, his girlfriend and his sister who have all become demonically possessed is one that is truly terrifying. The character development of Ash is really well done. Starting out as an almost supporting character to Scott, he very much takes on the final girl persona. Keeping himself distanced and in the background and not taking the risks until necessary for his own survival. Although Ash later goes on to be a staple of the franchise, it was Scott who I had down initially as our lead, for the majority of this films run time. I have to give credit to Raimi for his phenomenal use of camera work in this production. His use of first person perspective for the demonic entity was revolutionary. He has such a keen eye for great camera angles and making sure all of his shots are framed and lit perfectly. Knowing how little budget he had and the age he was when he made this film only makes me appreciate it more as an adult. Combining this with such creative makeup and practical effects, that really are mesmerising to look at. The scene with the pencil through the ankle looks so horrifying and holds up better than most modern day effects. Most notably though was how captivating the stopmotion Claymation work was within the closing act, I know things have come along way on this front since this film but I can't help but love everything about this effects work. One thing that did let this down for me slightly was the egregious and unpleasant to watch tree rape scene. I understand this film was going for shock value (something it was certainly successful at) but this scene felt unnecessary and the act itself could have been displayed in a different way and still held just as much impact. I can appreciate the artistic and creative talent it would have taken to produce a scene like this, however for me I felt it had very little baring on the plot. I was expecting to go in and come away hating this film by today's standards, especially looking at it through a critical eye. This for me is not a film I grew up with so I don't have the same level of nostalgia as most horror fans. However, going in to this watch knowing a bit more about the behind the scenes development of this film has cemented my love for it as a piece of art. The creativity and vision that has come from a 20 year old Sam Raimi is mind blowing. There is no doubt in my mind how important this film is, not just to horror but to cinema as a whole. I know the sequels take a much lighter and more comedic tone, but for me this original Evil Dead is a masterclass in budget film making and deserves its place as one of horrors greats.


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