Evil Dead

Evil Dead (1981) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Sam Raimi. Bruce CampbellEllen SandweissRichard DeManincor 

I’m in classic horror mood this week. I haven’t seen this film in at least 20 years, but I remember when I was a teenager it was in a constant loop both at home (for some reason I used to show it to my then 5 years old sister… hahaha… she can testify that!) and with my friends from school (we discovered it in on VHS in our favourite video-store where we used to spend pretty much half of our lives).

At the time there was really nothing like it. We had never seen so much gore and graphic violence (nowadays intricate parts of modern horror) and it felt a complete revolution! To a teenager like me, lover of splatter and grown up with a passion for scary movies, this was pretty much heaven!

Aside from the stupidity and simplicity of the plot itself and the paper-thin characters (though that’s possibly also part of its charm), this is one a hell of a directorial debut for Sam Raimi. At the time I was probably too young to realise and appreciate the sheer inventiveness of the film-making behind it. The way it builds tension, how it makes us shiver and squirm (pen stabbing ankles, chopped body parts, zombie-like mosters), the way the action is staged and how the camera masterfully frames it all: dutch angles, 360 degrees pans, upside-down moves, super-tight close ups, those famous sweeps across the forest, handheld point of view shots down in the cellar… I mean, I could go on for ever. And that’s without even mentioning the sharp editing, the fantastic use of creepy sound effects (voices, rumbles, screams, whooshes, creaks, winds and so on) and the overall soundtrack with its eerie violins. Watching it tonight I was surprised by how tense and scary it still is, especially in its first part. It does become a bit repetitive half way through, before exploding (literally) into a “wonderful” gore-fest in its final act.

Today the film has a reputation of mixing horror with black humour, but I think it’s the sequel which actually embraced its madness and added a comedic twist to it. If you asked me I am not sure this was never really intend to make people laugh… and in fact the laughter is possibly unintentionally directed at the film for its terrible dialogue and not-so-great acting. However small the budget was, most of the special effects are still incredibly effective making Evil Dead one one of the goriest horror films of all times.

Clearly this is not everybody’s cup of tea (or blood), but within its genre (one which was probably invented by this film), Evil Dead is as close to a masterpiece as it gets.

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