The initial Evil Dead is a marvel of low-budget filmmaking, of ingenuity triumphing over lack of resources. It’s most surprising monster is a tree, and its most terrifying effect is generated by a camera mounted on a two-by-four, with a guy holding each end of the beam and running through the woods. The film moves at a relentless pace, unleashing increasingly gruesome shockers every few minutes.
An archetypal college-kids-at-a-cabin-in-the-woods tale, Evil Dead was the calling card to Hollywood for a then-unknown Sam Raimi (who’d eventually go on to make the first Spider-Man trilogy and Oz the Great and Powerful). He essentially remade the movie as Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, with a bigger budget and the same protagonist, chainsaw-handed Ash (the invaluable Bruce Campbell), followed by an out-of-left field third installment, Army of Darkness, that saw Ash transported to medieval Europe to fight more demons.
The series was rebooted this year, with Raimi and Campbell’s blessing, but the new Evil Dead, while surely the goriest of the lot so far, lacked the amateurish, homemade charm of the original.
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