The Evil Dead
“I've seen many a sharp pencil in my time but this one really takes the biscuit.”
“I'm a man and you're a woman...”
The Evil Dead is a 1981 horror film, famously made by Sam Raimi for only $4.79. The film stars Bruce Campbell as himself and is based on Campbell's actual experiences in the Tennessee forestland. As with all Sam Raimi films, all the Raimi siblings are featured: Ted, Ivan, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich Raimi play every other speaking role in the picture, while Raimi's slightly retarded cousin, the GM Oldsmobile 88, plays itself in a non-speaking cameo.
Bruce Campbell and friends drive towards a rickety old cabin in the middle of nowhere trying mostly to get laid.but also trying to convince each other that nothing could possibly go wrong. They then defy horror movie conventions by toying with evil forces they couldn't possibly comprehend and being consequently ravaged by the undead and a cameraman with an uncontrollable window-smashing penchant.
The screenplay was written by Sam Raimi when Campbell told him of a similar experience he had growing up in Tennessee.
"Well, me and some friends, we were hiking, you see, and we got lost," Campbell later said in an interview, "But luckily we found this cabin. It was great. There was radiators, a working phone... Rescue workers were there within an hour or two." When asked if the film's supernatural element was based on any true-life experiences, Campbell replied, "No. That was all Sam. That guy is sick."
"I felt the story needed something else. A certain X factor. So, naturally, it quickly became a soft core porn movie," explains Raimi. "I finished the script in January 1981. Bruce loved it, the crew loved it...The supernatural thing was added at the last minute actually. We were running out of reasons for people to take their clothes off."
With the $4.79 he had raised from investors, Raimi and the production crew started filming in the Tennessee woods. One scene in particular, the infamous Tree-Rape™ sequence, proved a challenge:
"Oh, God, it was a nightmare," says Bruce Campbell, "We were doing the Tree-Rape™ and this poor guy...It was freezing cold and he was made up to look like a teenage girl. Lying in mud. In the middle of the night. And Sam's just...He's never satisfied. He's like the Stanley Kubrick of soft core horror-pornography. So, of course, by take twenty-seven of this poor guy getting buggered by a tree...Tensions were high. Very high."
"It had never been done!" Raimi said in his defense. "Not only did I want to be the first to do tree-on-girl action, I wanted to do it right."
"Mike always seemed...unhinged," Raimi explains, "Even from the beginning. He was the only one me and Bruce weren't sure about hiring. Our concerns were justified, obviously, when he went mad and started ramming cameras through windows. And then, whenever I asked for a regular two-shot, he'd climb into the rafters and film from stupid angles. And he'd never stay still either. It quickly became apparent that either Bruce or myself would have to kill him and, luckily, Bruce stepped up."
Bruce only had this to say on the matter: "Do I ever regret shooting him in the face? I'd do it again."
"Of course, that was the only footage we had," says Sam Raimi of the film's unusual style. "So we had to use it. Most of the other stuff got destroyed in the truck crash."
Truck Crash and Release
With filming completed, the picture had to be sent to the studio. Unfortunately, the truck transporting the negative crashed into a similar truck containing corn syrup and red food dye. What film wasn't destroyed but was now perceived to be a gory zombie film. Most of the porn element was destroyed in the crash (luckily the Tree-Rape™ survived more or less intact).
The film was released and promptly banned in most countries, but quickly gained a cult following through word-of-mouth. It made Raimi and Campbell a lot of money, while the rest of the cast received virtually nothing.
"As far as I know, none of the supporting cast asked for money," says Raimi, before quickly adding, "And the lot of them are liars and drunks, by the way."
The Evil Dead has been released and re-released on DVD approximately thirty-seven times. The latest DVD release, The Evil Dead: 2008 Special Edition is considered by Raimi "the definitive cut." It has the largest amount of gratuitous nudity of the DVD releases and most of the porno scenes have been re-shot with Bruce Campbell.
"I don't think viewers will mind that Bruce is a bit older and flabbier," comments Raimi, "It's still as sexy as it was in 1981... Well I thought it was sexy..."
Other special features include commentaries, making-of documentaries, a satchel of corn syrup with red food dye and five shotgun rounds.
Those yearning for something more for their shopping dollar can even opt to buy Anchor Bay's The Evil Dead 30th Anniversary Slaytacular edition. Irrelevant to the fact that it hasn't been thirty years yet, this baby is available at your local hardware store and comes with your own crappy off-brand Japanese chainsaw. Included with the film is a short featurette entitled "how to effectively use a chainsaw to slay zombies", since the movie is ultimately vague on this point. Also included is a thirty page full color instruction manual giving detailed instructions on how to reload your shotgun with only one hand and only seconds to spare.