Halloween Marathon: Evil Dead (1981)

Its a new week and we are right on schedule with the second featured franchise, Evil Dead. I only know of this franchise and not much else so Evil Dead is completely new to me from start to finish. The only thing I might know a little bit of is the main dude is an iconic character. See, vague as heck in my mind but its okay, that is why these featured franchises end up here, right? I need to discover what all the hype is about!

Lets check it out!

Evil Dead (1981)

Evil Dead

Director and writer: Sam Raimi

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly

Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.-IMDB

I’m going to be downright honest right here and not even bother to sugarcoat it. A lot of you might disagree with me or just think I’m crazy but I did not like Evil Dead. I’ll explain it and I’ll even tell you what I think works, particularly referring to the premise and designing the set with a seemingly low budget (because 80s movies tend to be in that situation). Evil Dead is kind of like the model of cabin in the woods movies and the characters themselves seem to be exactly what it is about. Maybe it is what started the whole trend. The atmosphere and the design, despite its low budget and campy and dated effects, all work well enough. I know what I’m in for when I start up a 80s movie so I don’t criticize it on that. I even took a few days to settle my thoughts a little on this one before doing the write-up.

Evil Dead

Evil Dead has some pretty poor characters and it is paired up with the really slow pace movie that took forever to take off just didn’t work for me. Let us put the slow pace aspect aside because when it does pick up, there are some incredibly effective getting under your skin creeps, particularly when the possession starts and things start getting serious. After thinking about it a little more, the main issue of Evil Dead is that for what it accomplishes in reality, it takes itself a little too seriously. Its a shame because it sets up quite the mood right from the beginning as they build up the tension of getting into the house and the camera making it always look like someone is observing them. Those parts are pretty impressive to watch even if the swinging chair is hitting the house and stops suddenly and we already know it would or sounds come out of the woods and we know that something is out there, for example.

Evil Dead

What Evil Dead does most poorly is the characters. The first girl, Shelley heads outside with a sound she hears outside. Logically, who would do that? Just walk out into the woods which is in the middle of nowhere and not tell one other person in the house? Fast forward even to after the first possession happens and there is somewhat an idea that a danger has happened and they have heard the tapes and realize that body dismemberment is the only way to stop these attacks at least for a moment. The other characters aren’t quite the focus and we already know that because a lot of camera time is placed the so-called iconic character, Ash, played by Bruce Campbell. Ash is a frustrating character to no ends because he is somewhat of a sentimental fool who would be that perfect man you’d want to see in a romantic comedy but not in a life-threatening situation. He has a heart and that is fine. But after all that has happened, he can’t put his heart to stop the madness that has possessed his friends and that is pure ridiculousness. Perhaps, it gives his character some reality but it was hard to get behind his decisions that would inevitably stretch out the movie with yet another  horror sequence.

Evil Dead

Talking about horror sequences, nothing quite beats the laughing lady which is incredibly annoying and creepy all at the same time. There is one scene that creates a lot of uneasiness and it also created a lot of frustration because Ash could not do what he should to stop it all and falls for the tricks of the demons, in a way, or just his sentimentality takes over him too much. Whatever it is, it was at that moment that I just had enough of the character and wanted him to stop. It also is the moment when I started to wonder what made him so iconic.

Overall, Evil Dead is effective in its own slow pace horror despite its campy and outdated effects. There are some good horror sequences that cause a great deal of uneasiness however, the characters here leaves much to be desired, especially that of Ash who makes me wonder what gave him enough to be the iconic character of this franchise. Hopefully, the sequel will answer that question and give him a much braver and more courageous character.

Have you seen Evil Dead?

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14 thoughts on “Halloween Marathon: Evil Dead (1981)

  1. I can agree with you that if you didn’t see Evil Dead when it came out (just after the 1970’s) you probably wouldn’t think much of it. Part of what us young people liked at the time is, it wasn’t a “Hollywood” movie. It was a film made by a group of young men who loved horror flicks and wanted to make the craziest horror flick they could. It is actually Evil Dead II that is the better film – it’s kind of a redo of ED with a bigger budget (the characters are done better and the comical aspects are more prominent) – but even ED2 has some of the same drawbacks.

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    • I do understand it isn’t a Hollywood film and I believe a lot of the horror aspects are spot on despite them being campy and low budget. I’m working on the review for ED2 right now and it is for sure a better movie. This just wasn’t exactly my cup of tea and it was mostly because I couldn’t quite agree with the character of Ash more than anything else.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I must disagree on every point. I love this film. It’s low budget campiness sets a particular tone. Plus, they could get as gory as they wanted since it was independent. The movie is short, so I feel the pacing is spot on. Ash doesn’t become iconic until you watch films 2-3; then you will understand. I first saw this as a kid, and it scared the crap out of me. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but I still enjoy it every time I see it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do believe that it is because of my watching it now. But I never have issues with the low budget. I guess pacing is what differs between everyone’s tastes. At this point, I have seen Evil Dead 2 and I do believe that it is a better film.

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  3. I looooove the original Evil Dead. It’s one of my favorite horror pictures. The tiny budget does show nitself in places but it’s still so fun. And the production stories are an absolute blast. “Party down!”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love it, own it, and enjoy it, but I respect your opinion. Ash though is never really supposed to be a brave tough guy. What makes him iconic is he’s this sort of goofy guy thrust into horrible situations. He rises to the challenge in his own kind of Groovy way. That is what makes him so awesome and of course Bruce Campbell plays him to perfection. I think you will like the second one better. It blends comedy and horror and doesn’t try to be serious all the time. It is a close tie with Part 3 for my favorite in the series.

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  5. Brave and honest review, considering the fanboy worship (I drank the KoolAid too hehehe). I love hearing what you thought from today’s point of view. For old school fans like me, it’s hard to separate our nostalgic love.

    The slow pace definitely hinders the movie, especially compared to today’s (too) fast pacing. I hear ya. The groundbreaking reputation comes from the visual flair and ultra low budget FX. You definitely respect the history behind this iconic cult classic though.

    It seems like you enjoyed Evil Dead 2 more. It’s like a remake/sequel with a bigger budget, plus it’s a lot more ‘fun’ (like splatstick comedy a la 3 Stooges… with gore). The original has a soft spot for me and still ranks up there as one of the best (for technical achievement and entertainment, rather than character and story hehehe).

    Good stuff, Kim. I’m looking forward to your review on part 2. I hope you stick around for Army of Darkness too… it’s tons of fun with a lot more comedy and an even larger budget.

    Liked by 1 person

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