Last week I looked at a pretty awful little flick called The Alien Dead and noticed that the poster they used seemed to be a bit of a rip off of the poster for the Evil Dead. The thing is, that movie came out a full year before the Evil Dead. Why that is . . . still not sure and still hoping someone out there will tell us why.
One thing to note going into this little write up is that this isn’t a zombie flick. The dead get up and move around and kill the living but they aren’t zombies so much as possessed corpses. At this point the number of REAL zombie movies seems to be dwindling as I knock more and more off my list of zombie movies to watch. They ally turn out to be demon movies or revenants. But if you’re anything like me, you won’t really care. You’ll sit back, find it impossible to relax and watch the horror and humor unfold in The Evil Dead!
You read that part about the poster above right? Any ideas?
It’s hard to hold back here so let’s just state the obvious. The Evil Dead started something really special in the world of horror in that it created a gross, horrifying and ultimately really fun series of movies that a lot of people got a hell of a kick out of and which launched a number of careers and influenced a lot of other movie makers.
Bruce Campbell is the hero of the flick in the part of Ash, Sam Raimi the fresh director. Though the movie is rough as a goat’s ass you constantly get the feeling that the people in the movie were having an incredible time making it. That, despite the fact that it was incredibly hard to make with stand ins and scheduling issues constantly delaying the completion of the film.
What the audience picks up on though is a feeling of enjoyment which counts for a hell of a lot. For me, that is one of the best things about any movie or other experience, when the genuine enjoyment of the craft and creation comes through, it’s much more likely the audience will pick up on that. As hard as it was, these guys were making a movie! Hot damn!
By any standards the movie is rough. Edits and cuts jump a bit with inconsistencies in the audio and video tracks. The humor and staging are a bit jarring at times with a number of ridiculous moments. Take the opening when Ash clumsily and needlessly draws out the suspense as they approach an oncoming truck. Suddenly the camera cuts to a view from below looking up at him over the shoulder of the driver.
The staging and position of that shot are completely ridiculous. Ash has instantly gone from sitting back in the set to being partly outside the car screaming at the driver. And the girlfriend isn’t helping matters much either. Who wouldn’t crash with all that going on. But it’s still a beautiful shot. It’s dynamic and looks amazing. So despite the rough jumps and oddball staging it still kind of works.
That’s the saving grace about the film. The nativity and poorly polished feel of it are just on the surface and there is some pretty slick and creative thinking going on behind the camera.
This is a little unfair but I saw the Evil Dead a year or more after seeing Evil Dead 2 about six or seven times. So when I watched it in the wrong order it made the earlier movie seem that much worse by comparison. I liked it but didn’t really get INTO it.
The effects seemed pretty rough by comparison and I just didn’t buy them. The colors and the kinds of rough deterioration and melting flesh, bleeding, etc. all seemed like something out of the black and white era when the lack of color would have covered how rough a lot of it really looked.
Even then the effects were really good. There’s one scene that has always bothered the hell out of me where a pencil gets driven through someone’s ankle. It’s such a long shot and I KNOW it’s not a real ankle but even writing about it gives me the creeps.
Still, looking back at it now in a fresh light I sort of love how rough it is. For a few GREAT examples of what was going on with the making, check out this awesome vid on the Evil Dead by Cinefix.