Evil Dead (1981), Review

Ethan Lewis reviews 1981's Evil Dead movie, because the 2013 Evil Dead is out today. So, why the hell not?

The original Evil Dead is considered a genre maker in terms of horror films. It helped created (and disrupted) many of the tropes of the horror genre. Evil Dead is disgusting, hilarious, and a film that will make you jump. And of course, with the release of the remake this weekend, people are talking a great deal about the original Evil Dead from 1981.

And though the remake looks very different than the original, we think that we can rest assured that the film is in safe hands. Afterall, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are producing it. And the original film made them both legendary in the horror world.

The original film’s plot goes something like this. A group of teens (albeit some of the oldest teens we’ve ever seen) go on a trip to their cabin in the woods. And as cliché as this sounds in 2013, remember that this was 1981. Before mainstream slashers and before this was all incredibly stereotypical.

So they’re hanging out in their incredibly creepy cabin when the basement door suddenly opens. And we mean, it just flies open. So they, of course, decide to explore the incredibly creepy basement area. In the basement they find a book. It is, of course, the incredibly creepy looking Book of the Dead. It could be worse of course. They could have found Twilight. And like all good teens in horror films they mess around with it. And then they find a recording of the incantation. And again, because they are A+ horror teens, they play it. Not without protest, but you know how it is. Horror boys will be horror boys.

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That’s when some strange shit starts going down. And unlike the author of this article, who would cry in a corner for his mother, Cheryl (one of the teen girls) goes out to investigate the weird sounds. In the dark and scary woods.

After a violent and unfortunate encounter with the local flora, Cheryl runs back in demanding that they leave. Ash (known from now on in this article as “Bruce Campbell”) offers to take her home. The bridge is destroyed an they are forced to turn back. Who saw that twist of fate coming? Certainly not us.

That’s when shit gets real and Cheryl turns into a goddamn demon. A pus spewing, scary, nasty ass demon. We love that they scream “her eyes” as if the flesh dangling off her body is no big deal. So they do the only logical thing and lock her in the basement.

The other two fine ladies are also quickly demon-fied and the two young men find themselves with the unenviable task of chopping the demon-ladies into pieces. With an axe. So Scotty manages to muster up the gonads to chop Shelley into pieces. Pieces that twitch. And spew unspeakable nasties resembling the gallon challenge.

This leaves our two gentlemen to fight our two demonic ladies. But hold up. Our hero Scotty has been turned into a demon?! How could this happen? Who will save the day now!?

Enter Bruce-Fucking-Campbell (aka Ash). He starts kicking ass and taking names. And still managing to look remarkably good looking covered in demon slime. Now, this isn’t the Bruce Campbell from Army of Darkness. He comes off as this really sweet and really terrified kid in the original Evil Dead. He clearly really has feelings for one of the ladies (pre-demon feelings, but feelings nonetheless). He doesn’t hesitate to try to take Cheryl home when she gets scared. But this weekend just got really bad. So if he turns into an asshole by Army of Darkness, we can’t judge.

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So we are left with our sole survivor who makes it out of the cabin only to be greeted by the safety of sunshine. Or is he? We were shocked to rewatch this and realize that the last person standing wasn’t the virginal girl. Though some have pointed out that it gender bends the “last girl standing” trope by making the last guy standing Ashley. It is interesting but there isn’t much else we can think to say about this.

As sarcastic and sharp tongued as this review is (an homage to Bruce Campbell really), we love Evil Dead. Evil Dead is such a classic, fun, and amazing horror film. Not because it is Oscar worthy. But because it really speaks to horror fans in our language. It is campy without being bad.

People will inevitably complain that the remake is unlike the original. But how the hell could they have possibly remade this film? Who exactly is a better Bruce Campbell than Bruce Campbell? Who could be groovier than the man himself? And we all know that we would be complaining way more if they had included Ash in the new film. We’d be like THIS ISN’T AS GOOD AS THE ORIGINAL as we clutched our Bruce Campbell action figure. Because that’s how we geeks roll.

So if you are planning on seeing the Evil Dead remake this weekend, check out the original as well but don’t focus too much on the comparison.

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3 out of 5