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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Movie Review: THE EVIL DEAD


The Evil Dead is a 1983 horror film directed by Sam Raimi that has turned into a cult classic in the decades since its release. It tells the story of five friends who plan to spend their vacation at a rundown cabin in a remote area of the woods. The group consists of a man named Ash (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), his sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), his best friend Scott (Richard DeManincor) and Scott's girlfriend Shelly (Theresa Tilly). A number of strange occurrences start to happen around the cabin, and Scott goes to investigate strange noises in the cellar, ultimately stumbling on a number of demonic possessions. He also finds a tape recorder and a series of tapes, which the group chooses to listen to. The man on the tapes talks of an ancient Sumerian text that, when recited, will bring a demonic force once upon the area. Unbeknownst to our heroes, the man on the tape starts to recite said text, causing the demons to awaken from their slumber. The demons then unleash their power upon our unsuspecting victims, and the five friends spend the rest of the night just trying to stay alive.

I know there are a few people who have questioned how I have yet to see this film until today, but there are a couple of reasons I've waited this long. For starters, I didn't really get into the whole horror genre until a couple of years ago when I was finally able to sit through Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho in its entirety (that film traumatized me as a child, and it took me years to break through that film and horror in general). Once I got past that, however, I was able to delve into the annals of horror film history. Secondly, The Evil Dead always just seemed like a bit too much for my own tastes. Now, I don't have a queasy stomach by any means, but the exuberant amount of gore in this one looked as though it was going to make my skin crawl. Still, it's widely considered one of the best horror films to have ever been made, so I decided to give it a shot.

While I didn't absolutely love the film after this first viewing, I can understand why it's become such a cult classic and can applaud it for the effort. I think the best way that I can describe The Evil Dead is "over-the-top," and even that might be a bit of an understatement. What makes the film truly brilliant, however, is that it literally goes balls to the wall and never lets up. A lot of horror films attempt to go over-the-top, but there are points where they'll let up in favor of exposition or storyline or some other facet. The Evil Dead doesn't get mired in that sort of folly and instead sets out with a simple idea and runs with it for the film's entirety. If you're looking for a plot, you'll be hard-pressed to find one. The movie is really more a series of events, and the audience is expected to sit back and "enjoy" the ride. And I don't think that the film would have worked in any other way.

Now when I say "over-the-top," I truly mean that The Evil Dead is about as ridiculous as they come, but it fits the low-budget nature of the flick. The acting is so-so, but because everything else is so ridiculous, it fits this film perfectly. And what can I say about the violence and the gore that hasn't already been said? I had heard that this film is considered one of the goriest to have ever been made, and I'd have to agree heartily with that statement. There were a couple of moments where I had to choke back a little bit of desire to lose my lunch. That's quite a testament for a film that's nearly thirty years old. It says quite a bit about it's overall staying power if it can still incite that kind of reaction here in the torture-porn-filled 21st century.

I've been told that this film is supposed to border on horror-comedy, but I personally couldn't find any of the humor in it. I could see where there might be some, but I think I might've been a little overwhelmed by everything else to sit back and laugh at or along with the film. Raimi did a fantastic job with building the suspense despite the over-the-top nature of the flick, so that should be applauded.

Overall, I think that The Evil Dead will benefit from a second viewing because I think I'll get more of a grasp on the comedic aspect of the film. I know it's there, but with how much suspense and gore was thrown my way in this first viewing, I just couldn't find a way to pick it out. Is this film for everyone? Not by a long shot. You definitely need to have a strong stomach to sit through this one. However, if you do have a strong stomach, I suggest you give this one a gander. Don't think too hard on it - just sit back and let it take you where it takes you. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: A-
2 Thumbs Up

Addition to Rankings
Greatest All-Time - #246
Best Horror/Thriller - #23

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