Thursday, June 16, 2011

Capsule Review: The Evil Dead (1981)

No movie had a bigger impact on my love for films and film-making than Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. The sequels got bigger, funnier and more off-the-wall, but my heart belongs to the original film, which is a lunatic fun-house of scares, gore and truly inventive camerawork. In fact, on re-watching it I was struck with just how much energy the film-making brought to what was really a very standard tale of a group of young people being attacked by some malevolent force. While Bruce Campbell would become a cult icon, here he's just a kid, but takes the massive punishment dished in his direction like a champ even while his friends are possessed, (controversially) molested by a tree, or dismembered. There's a wild sense of freedom on display, a sense that anything can happen, that few films have been able to match, and the consistent inventiveness on display inspired an entire generation of horror filmmakers - and eventually made Raimi a blockbuster filmmaker. And while it's funny - sometimes screamingly so - it remains at heart a true horror film, and a very effective one.


Movie Guy Steve said...

I like the sequel better, but I agree that this one is more important to the genre.

I had the opportunity to see this as a midnight movie a couple of years ago, and it was fantastic on a big screen.

Doug Tilley said...

On an objective level, Evil Dead 2 is definitely better. It has a stronger handle on its tone, has much better acting, and is amusing from beginning to end. The Evil Dead has some messy segments, and some weak acting, but its influence on me personally was huge.. It changed the way I thought about how films were made. It made me think that maybe with enough work and gumption that my friends and I could make a horror movie. People sometimes lump it with the other horror films of the period, but when watched with them it sticks out like a sore thumb. I'm sure there's an element of nostalgia there, but the love I have for The Evil Dead is immense.

Will said...

I remember seeing this with my dad when I was seven years old. The imagery had stuck in my mind ever since.