The Evil Dead (1991) (R)

So, let's talk about the rating. Sam Raimi's cult darling "The Evil Dead" has no real rating...and by that, I mean that somewhere in the ether there is an accurate rating, but I can't find it. On the film is listed as "NC-17" which made me pause and say "what?". On, the film is "R" and on Netflix it's "NR" who knows? I can say this though, based on what I have seen, I will keep the "R" rating, because I think that's what the film deserves...okay, now we can really talk.
Let's bunch all of our friends into a car, go to the creepy woods on a road only big enough for one car, barely make it across a bridge, find a creepy book about summoning demons, and play a tape of some guy reading said book...that sounds like a load of a fun and completely logical.
Without bad decision lined up after bad decision, we wouldn't have one of the most colorful and violent horror gems in film.
"The Evil Dead" begins with a group of friends driving out in the boonies to a rundown cabin to spend a vacation there. This doesn't seem like an average group of teenagers because there is no running water and air conditioning...but pshaw to amenities.
Ashely (Bruce Doesn't-Respond-Well-To-Stress Campbell) and his girlfriend are looking forward to some alone time...too bad there are three other people there. The five friends seem nice enough, though their semi-leader is a complete jerk.
The woods are creepy from the first moment. Sam Raimi doesn't stop to let the He plows right into horror after horror, aided by the cinematography and the eerie music. Funnily enough, the movie's beginning is moody enough to land itself in a Werner Herzog movie...but it's not even close to being as boring.
When the friends make it to the dilapidated building, there is an ominous swing hitting the cabin again and again. After the door is opened, the swing stops...ooooooooh.
This should have been the first clue, but to be fair, it's not that disturbing when you take it out of context. The real first clues should have been a weird spasm moment that one of the girls has when she's sketching (and by that I mean drawing, of course, and not being sketchy) or the wind-like moans of "join us" that come from outside the windows.
I'm a baby when it comes to scares...I don't do well with the idea of people creeping on my house. So if I thought there was a hoard of demons hiding out in the bushes, you wouldn't find me looking out the windows. No sir, I would be in my bed, hiding under three sheets and a comforter with two extra pillows as back up. These kids however, seem to have an insatiable curiosity for what might kill them, so they go to every window possible...dumb teenagers.
The ghosts of the surrounding terrain have been woken up by the excessive fog machines. They come to stalk the house and kill the kids.
"The Evil Dead" is shot two ways—as an observer and through the eyes of the ghosts. The camera rapidly hovers over the forest floor and rushes this way and that, looking into the house at the unsuspecting's really effective.
The first half of the movie is terrifying, and then it all goes south; but in the best possible way.
The second half is a cheesy, corny gore-fest...and probably the reason that the rating is disputed.
Ash (Bruce Face-Gets-Covered-In-Blood Campbell) is the only sensible one of his five friends..."sensible" here meaning "most contemplative". If he hurried into rash decisions like the rest of his companions... it wouldn't be good.
"The Evil Dead" is a spook story—there's something in the woods. It's not about demons or survival, it's only goal is to scare and to entertain...and on both counts it succeeded greatly.
A low-budget heroic tale of the underdog, Sam Raimi launched his name into stardom with this picture...too bad he had to ruin it with films like "Spider-Man 3" and "Oz the Great and Powerful".
I would wager that the film was a big as it was because of Bruce Always-Backs-Up-In-The-Wrong-Places Campbell. He's so worried and freaked out that it would lead to an infamous scene in a sequel that involves maniacal laughing.
The film is pretty out-there, but you really have to admire that fact. I really liked "The Evil Dead" even though it did scare the heck out of me.
This film will never die.

Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4

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