The Evil Dead (not rated)
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Note: I'm calling this "not rated" because that's what it says on the DVD I've got. Some websites will call it NC-17 or R, so I don't know what to believe. It came out in 1981, and I must have seen it on VHS sometime in the 90s, but I'm writing this review after watching it again on DVD in 2022. And I didn't remember anything about it, but I think I liked it a bit better than I remembered. I still feel like it's being a bit kind to rate it one smiley, but it is a cult classic, I guess. And it wasn't really bad. There were bits I liked, and I suppose it could be considered scary, if you can put yourself in the place of the characters. Which personally I found kind of hard to do, but whatever. Anyway, it was written and directed by Sam Raimi, and launched his career. I suppose I should also mention that it's based on a 1978 proof of concept short film called "Within the Woods", which I've never seen.
Five friends: Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend Linda, his sister Cheryl, his friend Scott, and Scott's girlfriend Shelly, all go to a remote cabin in the woods, in Tennessee. That night, the cellar trapdoor swings open on its own, and Scott goes down to investigate, followed a bit later by Ash. They find various things, including a creepy book (Naturom Demonto) and a tape recorder. Later they play back a tape, which had been recorded by someone who had been studying the book. He recites an incantation that apparently summons demons, or something. We never actually see demons in their own bodies, they just possess other people- and trees. Cheryl gets attacked by trees, and is then possessed herself, and transforms to look demonic. The others lock her in the cellar, but one by one some of the others get possessed, too. So, the survivors must fight them off, until Ash is the last one left alive.
There, I haven't said much, but I feel like I've already said too much about the plot. It's a creepy movie, and I'd say the makeup effects are pretty decent when people are possessed. And there's plenty of blood and gore, if you're into that kind of thing (which I'm not). There's a scene at the end where the special effects looked rather silly to me, though. I thought Ash was an okay character, though not nearly as cool as he'll be in the sequels. I liked how reluctant he was to kill anyone, even if that reluctance was far from practical. And... there was one other little touch in the movie that I liked, but I don't want to spoil it by saying what it was. It's not really important, though. Anyway, I'm sorry I couldn't enjoy the movie more than I did. But I think it served a greater purpose of launching the franchise, and influencing other horror movies. And of course, introducing the world to Ash, who would become a pretty iconic character, as well as launching Bruce Campbell's career.
movies: The Evil Dead * Evil Dead II * Army of Darkness * Evil Dead * Evil Dead Rise
TV: Ash vs Evil Dead