There are hundreds of films that, as a self-confessed cinephile and film critic, I should have seen by now. Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead trilogy has been at the top of that watchlist for quite some time. My only reason for not watching it up until this point was my consistently held fear of horror movies.
Bruce Campbell is stuff of legend these days, and it’s this film that kickstarted his cult icon status. Rightly so as well, but for all the wrong reasons. For the first hour or so of the movie, Campbell does nothing of interest. Instead the spotlight heads towards Scott (Richard DeManincor), he seems to be the leader of the group for much of the movie. But once the reservations of Ash (Campbell) are thrown away in the face of demonic danger, the film really ramps up.
As far as the rest of the cast go though, there’s nothing really special about their performances. They’re your age old horror performances from the 1980s. About a handful of 20,000 of these actors went on to star in more than four films. What I’m trying to say is that horror actors are pretty much expendable, well they were in the early 1980s anyway. It’s typical to see it here too, it’s one of the cliches that the movie keeps up with the whole way through, the idea that these characters don’t need fleshing out because people are here just for the gore.
In a way that theory does make sense, the gore is fantastic. But I stuck around for a genuinely interesting story, because that’s exactly what the movie offers up, it’s just a shame none of the cast (except Campbell) are recognisable in anything else.
I’m writing this review having just seen the second movie also. Considering this entire movie is redundant in regard to its impact on the second film, it only makes sense to review this one as a standalone product. As such, it’s a really great horror romp that doesn’t leave too much of a lasting impression. By all means a very good start to an excellent trilogy, but definitely the most forgettable of the bunch.
Possibly the greatest part of the movie is its use of visual effects. Something I’ve always admired about the work of Carpenter (and now Raimi) in the horror genre is its overuse of horror effects. It really brings about a great realism, and The Evil Dead manages to create a form of pseudo-realism. The effects are over the top, but at the same time look realistic. The gushing blood every five minutes was incredible, but paired nicely with some really gruesome looking deadites.
What it lacks in general competence in regard to its continuity and performances, it makes up for in extremely enjoyable violence and some impressive visuals. More of a movie for fans of film, rather than just the general movie-goer as it really hasn’t stood up to the greatest challenge of all. Time. Some scenes are pretty low brow even for a horror movie. Still, it’s a marvelous experience for fans of cinema, with Sam Raimi really jumping at the creative opportunity.