By Brett Mullins
At first glance, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead appears to be nothing more than an average 1980s B-movie horror film. While it features a rather low production value, this film stands the test of time in terms of its spooks and hilarity.
Five friends travel to a cabin in the backwoods and discover a ‘Book of the Dead’ along with a considerable amount of research. Following listening to a recording regarding the contents of the book, the characters are possessed one by one by an evil spirit leaving Ash (Bruce Campbell) to fend them off and survive the night.
How did this low budget seemingly unoriginal film earn its acclaim as one of the best horror films of all time? The atmosphere, tension and relentless horror of the film are superb and are able to compete with the best of today’s cinema.
Sam Raimi is able to evoke a sense of claustrophobia in that there is no escape for the characters. This allows the audience to formulate the feeling of impending doom as the hope for a happy conclusion becomes more and more dim.
While this film features implied satirical moments of humor, it in no way compares to heavy horror elements at play. There are several scenes of blood spewing demonic possession which set the stage for multiple grizzly deaths of each character, which often occur several times with each individual. Before the film begins to take on certain splatter elements, there is a scene where a woman is lured outside only to be restrained and raped by limbs and vines. The manner in which the film depicts the deaths of the characters is certainly original.
The audience is able to find a likable character in Ash. He is able attack those possessed, but still feels remorse; therefore, the audience is able to better relate to him.
The Evil Dead features several simple, yet effective, devices that provide endless suspense and horror, which leaves the audience begging for more.