Film Viewing of the Week: The Evil Dead (1981)

6:15 PM



If the concept of inexplicably dumb college kids getting picked off one by one by infernal forces at a creepy cabin sounds familiar, it's because The Evil Dead started it. On my never-ending quest to absorb every cult classic, The Evil Dead is one of my first stops in the shock horror genre as well as being my first Sam Raimi gore smorgasbord. I can now say with complete confidence that Raimi has zero fucks to give. It's hard to believe that the film came from the same mind that created the now iconic upside-down Spidey kiss. Though it's safe to say I'd much rather watch 85 minutes of College kids getting dismembered than sit through Raimi's Spider-Man again, aka Peter Parker : The Emo Years.

The plot of The Evil Dead is fairly straight forward. Five college kids spend a night at a remote cabin and accidentally awaken demons who possess each person one by one. The acting is hilariously bad, as are the special effects, but I expected nothing less. A campy shock horror film like The Evil Dead requires certain audience participation in that as a viewer, you have to get into the zombie blood and splash around a little bit instead of sitting on the edge of the pool like a wimp. I'll admit I'm kind of a wuss when it comes to horror, so I deliberately watched this macabre masterpiece in the daytime instead of at night (when demonic hallucinations before sleeping are more likely). However, I immediately realized that The Evil Dead is really more comedic than terrifying. The complete foulness of  the entire film with its decomposing layers of rank zombie puss creates images so grotesque that the impossibility of it all is overrides the 'horror' of it. I felt something similar watching the Crazy 88 sequence in Quentin Taraninto's Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), where The Bride effortlessly hacks off limbs right and left and the viewer has zero time to process the sheer amount of carnage. For a film like The Evil Dead, which is usually filed under shock horror, it's funny how the 'shock' of the film almost completely overpowers the 'horror' part of its name. 

Sam Raimi is unapologetically disgusting and certainly not shy of blood, or really any variations on bodily fluid. In fact, The Evil Dead beats you over your most likely bloody stump of a head with its excessive gore. Just thinking about makes the air seem heavy with some kind of demonic spores. But really, The Evil Dead is equal parts disgusting and disturbing and ridiculously fun to watch.


The Evil Dead (1981)
dir. Sam Raimi
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker.
85 minutes | USA

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