Looking Back On The Evil Dead

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With the impending release of Evil Dead, a remake of the 1981 cult classic The Evil Dead I thought that now would be a great time to look back on the original and give some background on what made it such a success. This is not so much for the horror buffs (those dudes have already seen The Evil Dead dozens of times) but more for the younger readers or horror impaired that are probably going to get dragged to the remake due to the fact that it looks ABSOLUTELY FUCKING TERRIFYING.

This is the first time a trailer has given me chills in years.

Like most remakes this one is based off of a film with a huge cult following. Somehow, though, people are not as familiar with The Evil Dead as they are with other horror franchises. Everyone knows who Freddy Krueger or Jason Vorhees is, but if I said Ashley J. Williams would you immediately think of a man with a chainsaw for a hand and a shotgun in his other? Again, horror fans would absolutely think that, but most regular movie goers probably would not. Not only was the original movie met with critical praise, but it spawned a franchise that has taken more weird turns than any other horror film in pop culture.

It even became a musical.

So how did something so many people love so much fail to gain the kind of recognition that most crazy horror flicks from the 80’s got? The easiest answer to that question is that it was a low-budget independent horror instead of a studio funded one. This was Sam Raimi (director of the Spider-Man trilogy) and Bruce Campbell’s first feature film. It literally was a couple friends in their early 20’s from Michigan making a horror movie on a tiny budget that they had to beg to get. There were no expensive camera rigs or special effects, this film was practically DIY in every sense of the word.

It still looked better than the last Texas Chainsaw movie.

Despite all of this The Evil Dead managed to be one of the best horror films of all time. Even Stephen King was totally into it, and that guy knows a thing or two about horror. If this does not amaze you then you do not know a thing about independent horror. Just go ahead and watch some movies on Netflix right now in the horror section that you have never heard of. Odds are these films were indie horror and also probably awful. I am a known lover of all things awful in movies, but I would say that 75% of all indie horror is not worth anyone’s time. Yet somehow The Evil Dead not only managed to set the bar insanely high for low budget horror, but for the entire genre.

I don’t see a Marvel crossover with any other horror icons. Advantage The Evil Dead.

The thing The Evil Dead did to set itself apart was an original script and push the boundaries of the R rating. Most things that are now horror cliches (cabins in the woods, ancient books that summon demons) were new and original when The Evil Dead came out. You might watch it now and scoff at how predictable and cheesy it seems, but back in 1981 it was a trailblazer. Kind of like what Die Hard is to action movie cliches. Much like the things that are now in tons of horror films The Evil Dead may seem tame compared to modern movies like the Saw or Hostel franchises, but that shit got straight up banned in some countries. Sure, there had been some pretty graphic gore in some grindhouse flicks, but The Evil Dead was not made for exploitation. Plus, a girl gets raped by the woods. I do not mean she got raped near some woods, I mean the actual woods raped her.

I bet you thought a splinter in your finger was bad.  

I have all the hope in the world for the new Evil Dead movie. It has both Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell’s approval, and that is definitely good enough for me. Even if they do not tread any new ground the fact that they are updating the original (which honestly does not hold up terribly well) and bringing a new generation the tale of the Deadite zombies. The original film was a milestone for horror and nothing can ever take that away, so even if the new one sucks we will always still have Ashley J. Williams and his struggle for survival in that cabin in rural Tennessee.

Editorial written by: Justin Proper

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