Evil Dead (1981)

Can they be stopped?
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Evil Dead - Can they be Stopped?

Sam Raimi's 1981 horror movie Evil Dead manages to contain all of the essential elements from the whole horror genre including excessive gore, the supernatural, undead, dark humour, sex, violence and a chainsaw for bodily dismemberment. Due to these essentials the movie soon found itself on the UK's Video Nasty List as well as being banned in a number of other countries. This scarcity plus the fact that, even though the movie was produced on a low budget, it is a top quality horror soon propelled the movie to cult status and has spawned a couple of sequels plus a very dedicated fan base and has made Bruce Campbell a familiar name within the horror world.

Five students head out to an isolated log cabin for a bit of rest and recreation (always a mistake when you know you're in a horror movie). The cabin was previously being used by a professor and his better half to research The Book of The Dead which the students discover in the basement along with a number of recordings. Investigating the abandoned research it turns out that the surrounding woods are possessed by evil demons that can only be awoken by reading from the book. Luckily the students aren't stupid enough to read from the book but unluckily the previous cabin occupant was stupid enough to record his reading onto tape and playing this reawakens the evil.

The first victim of the demons is Cheryl. She is lured into the woods with the hope of escape from the scary happenings in the cabin but the woods come alive and she finds herself brutally raped by the foliage. The tree rape scene is one of the most notable scenes in the movie and is often attributed as being the main reason that Evil Dead caused so much controversy. Cheryl manages to escape the flora and makes it back to the cabin where her brother Ash (Bruce Campbell) reluctantly offers to drive her into town only to discover that the only bridge out of seclusion has been completely destroyed. On returning to the cabin it soon becomes obvious that Cheryl has been possessed so they lock her in the cellar whilst they decide what to do.

One by one the others succumb to the evil with the only solution, as described by the professor's recordings, is total body dismemberment. Before long Ash is the only unpossessed amongst the group of friends and he must battle to survive the night with a house full of undead and a forest full of malevolence.

Bruce Campbell is by far the superstar of this film as he rampages through the bizarrely constructed residence trying to destroy his possessed friends. The violence is ultra with stabbings, impalings, eye-gouging, dismemberment and gallons of blood. Ash employs a number of tools to aid his survival and we are gifted with some very creative and extreme gore. The eerie camera angles and unnerving sound effects make the movie a complete assault on the senses and considering the budget of under $120,000 the gore effects are quite convincing although the final demise of the demons does seem a bit plasticiney. This is truly a directorial masterpiece for Sam Raimi and he manages to make the very most of the limited resources available.

Evil Dead deserves to be a cult classic and its influence on the horror movie genre will ensure that it stays that way.
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