“But the trees, Ash — they know! Don’t you see? They’re alive!”
When a group of five college students — Ash (Bruce Campbell), his sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), his friend Scott (Hal Delrich), and Scott’s girlfriend Shelly (Sarah York) — go out to stay in a ramshackle rural cabin, they make the mistake of opening a book that conjures up evil spirits which soon possess most of the gang.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Horror Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
It’s always a bit quaint to read Peary’s take on 1980s titles that went on to develop a cult following, given that he wouldn’t necessarily have known or guessed this back when publishing GFTFF. A case in point is his review of The Evil Dead, which has since been named one of the “1,001 movies you must see before you die” and spawned a fairly massive franchise. Peary writes that “it’s obvious that the people from Detroit who made this independently produced horror film are not without talent, particularly first-time director Sam Raimi, but it’s a shame that they wasted it in such a manner” — but then he goes on to immediately add in parentheses, “Of course, it’s hard lecturing filmmakers about using their film stock wisely and tastefully when their movies earn several million dollars profit.” He notes that The Evil Dead “starts out creepily, if conventionally” but quickly “becomes infuriatingly stupid”, given that “everyone’s getting murdered, yet people are left alone to rest, and women take solo nocturnal walks in the woods.” He writes that at this point, the “story goes out the window and [the] onetime movie [!!] turns into [a] gore fest, in which ‘possessed’ characters take turns hacking off each other’s limbs and coming back from the dead.”
I’ll admit to not really understanding the next line in Peary’s review, in which he writes: “Anyone would love to have the blood-and-spare-parts concession” (?). And I disagree with Peary that “It would be fun to trip over the overly mobile cameraman during one of his too frequent tracking shots” (meaning, I don’t think this technique is overused for the genre). Peary concludes his review by conceding that this is a “cult film for the gore generation — but only the most bloodthirsty wouldn’t trade in a few splatter effects for some substance.” While I’m no fan at all of gore-fests — and most definitely not an Evil Dead devotee — I think Peary’s missing the “bad movie” element of this film. The dialogue is at times humorously lame (“You bastards! Why are you torturing me like this? Why?!”), and I can easily imagine sitting around with a group of friends having fun at this film’s expense (“Those creepy white eyes! Those dang possessed bodies that just won’t stop reviving no matter how much they’re hacked up! No, don’t — don’t trust the temporarily-human-zombie!!!”) while simultaneously admiring 22-year-old Raimi’s clear moviemaking genius.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Consistently creative camera angles
- Creepy special effects and make-up
Yes, simply for its historical status as a cult favorite that started Sam Raimi’s career and an enormous franchise.
- Cult Movie
- Historically Relevant
- Important Director
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)