The Evil Dead: Anthology
Alright you primitive screw-heads, Listen up! The Evil Dead films are a cornerstone for the horror movie genre and are a great addition to any collection. Ever since I viewed the very first film in the series, I was left wanting more from director Sam Raimi and budding star Bruce Campbell. So let’s take a dive into the “pit” and review the films in order!
The Evil Dead
Written and directed by Sam Raimi, The Evil Dead made it’s debut in 1983 for US audiences. Primary protagonist Ashley (Bruce Campbell) and his 4 college student friends travel to a remote cabin in the middle of the woods for a good time. They end up stumbling upon some recording tapes found in the cabin’s cellar made by a professor that had previously occupied the cabin before their arrival. The tapes contain translations of the text found in the “Necronomicon Ex-Mortis” (roughly translated….. THE BOOK OF THE DEAD). When the translations are played on the recorder they awaken an ancient evil lurking in the woods that looks to possess anyone that gets in it’s path. Needless to say the fun outing for the group makes an unexpected turn towards pure evil. Given the budget that was allotted for the film and the time period that it was made, this film was genuinely groundbreaking as far as makeup work and gore. In the time period that we live in it is easy to turn a blind eye to this because of the abilities of computers with special effects (commonly referred to as CGI or computer generated image). There is a certain aura that films like this possess that give a very creepy feel right from the start which a lot of films in today’s era rarely emit. It is very fun to watch and succeeds in the end goal of giving the viewer chills in some areas and stomach turning feelings in others.
Evil Dead II
Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell return for the sequel that released in March of 1987. We join Ashley once again returning to the infamous cabin with his girlfriend Linda. Bear in mind that this is not a direct sequel. It is never explained if this is the same “Ash” depicted in the first film but, In my opinion, Sam Raimi wanted to almost redo the first film the way he saw fit with a larger budget. All of that aside, Ash finds the same type of recorder with a Professor Raymond Knowby’s findings located on the tapes. The tapes when played (you guessed it!) awaken the ancient evil of spirits in the woods. This film definitely differs as more characters are introduced later on in the story seeking the Necronomicon. The daughter of the professor in the recordings possesses missing pages of the book and seeks out the cabin to visit her father and mother. Needless to say, she does not find them. I definitely think that this film is superior to the original. Having only Ash to watch in the first segments of the film gives the viewer more intense feelings of sympathy and “if I were in that situation” thoughts. Comedy is implemented slightly as well even though it’s difficult to explain why certain events are oddly hilarious. The makeup and WTF moments (to be technical) are still top notch and the ending is an excellent set up for…..
Army of Darkness
Ash just can’t seem to catch a break! Army of Darkness debuted in early 1992 and became a massive cult classic. Sam Raimi once again takes the reins with Bruce Campbell as Ash is accidentally transported through time to the 1300’s where sides are battling over the ownership of the Necronomicon. Ash simply wants to get back to his own time and resume a normal life. This film continues right after the ending of Evil Dead II and shows more of the acting talents of Bruce Campbell and his surrounding cast. Focusing more on the comedy aspect action sequences more than typical horror. With one-liners aplenty, AOD exceeds all expectations with moments of absolute hilarity and great battle scenes! Just remember to shop smart! Shop… S mart! You got that?!
Evil Dead (2013)
This is the most difficult film to review as it is not a part of the series but new director Fede Alvarez, along with the original producers of the Evil Dead, attempts to give new life to the cult classic trilogy. David makes his way to a cabin with his girlfriend to meet his sister Mia and two friends to help Mia with her drug addiction. The idea is to go cold turkey and stop her drug abuse once and for all. The Book of the Dead is found in the cellar and is read aloud by Eric (one of the friends joining Mia and David) after deciphering some of the pages skillfully. This film does not take the reputation of the original film lightly as it focuses solely on horror and disturbing imagery. The makeup and location of the film is spot on and it even does a very great job of giving little head nods to the original with quotes and various props that are used. Those looking for the tiny laughs that are possible with the first three films should look elsewhere, but for an actual original horror film that has plenty of scares; it gets the job done well!
These films give the best of both worlds for horror and comedy. I would recommend all 4 to anyone who has not previously seen them, but I’d also say to take them with a grain of salt. Each one has values that they bring to the table and with the release dates so different, each one has a different feel. Sam Raimi did a great service to the horror industry with these films and every true horror fan should find them quite….. Groovy! Stay scared everyone!!