DVD Review: Still “Evil Dead” After All These Years

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I first encountered The Evil Dead while I was in line for the Haunted Trail, San Diego’s horrorfest bonanza in Balboa Park. The wait in line outside was long and cold, but they had The Evil Dead playing on a screen. The crowd in line drowned out the sounds of the movie, as did the screams from the people inside already being chased by Freddies and Jasons and whatever horror movie icons they could cram in there. I really had no choice but to watch the movie, because…my date never showed. I was pissed off. I felt betrayed. (Like when Ash‘s friends turn all demon on him.)

Whatever was happening on screen really caught my attention, though. I mean, who can resist crazy body-possessing demons? Or a book made out of skin? Or that girl getting violated by a tree? Ewww. It wasn’t until a year later that I saw the whole movie—and with sound. Needless to say, I was quite enchanted. This was some scary stuff, and it was funny, too. The acting was so-so, and these characters did all the things you’re never supposed to do in a horror movie, like GO OUT ON YOUR OWN! I mean, come on, that was one creepy forest and one creepy cabin. Over the years, The Evil Dead has proven to be a classic. It’s even been turned into a musical! What other horror movie that’s not about a man-eating plant has done that? Now we have the movie in all its glory on Blu-ray. When I got my hands on the disc, I immediately felt overwhelmed. This disc has A LOT on it. Notice how I capitalized a lot? I mean it, but more on that later.

As expected, I had a blast revisiting this movie on Blu-ray, and just like the movie Clue, the real fun happens once someone gets attacked. And in The Evil Dead‘s case, it’s by a tree. Ordinarily, it’s difficult for me to root for a male lead in a horror movie. I’m a huge fan of female leads. However, Bruce Campbell is undeniably charming as Ash. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he’s incredibly handsome. So he’s an easy guy to root for. The unintentional humor just gets funnier as this movie gets older—maybe that’s one of the reasons why it’s endured for so long. Plus, the acting really isn’t as bad as I remembered. It feels pretty genuine given the circumstances. And despite its age and laughs, it’s still pretty creepy. On the Haunted Trail, I was attacked by an army of Blair Witches played by teenage girls, so I know true horror.

The Blu-ray image is very clear, but there are a few issues that are no doubt a product of its modest budget. Some scenes and shots are a bit hazy, but I’ve never seen the movie look as good as it does here. Of course, there are loads of extra features. TONS! The first disc contains an audio commentary with the amazing Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and producer Robert Tapert. The three discuss their experiences in the film industry at the time of production and release. It’s not very scene-specific at all, though I wish it were. I would’ve loved to hear more about that tree scene. Still, it’s eye-opening and worth a listen, especially if you want a thorough view of the history of this film.

The second disc in the set contains bonus features and the bulk of the goodies:

One By One We Will Take You – The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead: Interviews with cast and crew with some added commentary by Joe Bob Briggs and Eli Roth. Includes outtakes as well.
The Evil Dead – Treasures From the Cutting Room Floor: More outtakes. Like an hour’s worth.
Discovering The Evil Dead: A feature on the marketing and distribution of the film and the proper respect they gave it.
Unconventional: Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi and the cast discuss fandom at conventions. They even give a shout-out to San Diego’s Comic-Con. Woop! Woop!
At the Drive-In: The cast hands out copies of The Evil Dead at an event at a drive-in showing the movie.
Reunion Panel: The cast at Flashback Weekend Horror Convention 2005.
Make-Up Test: A short montage clip of camera tests. Really shows the love and care that went into this movie.
The Ladies of The Evil Dead Meet Bruce Campbell: Bruce and his female castmates discuss more of the history and their experiences of making the film.
Book of the Dead – The Other Pages: Now, this is a real treat. A clip of the eerie pages from The Book of the Dead. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but this is so creepy.

Obviously absent is Within the Woods, the original short that inspired The Evil Dead. Its absence is missed. This disc is epic; there’s so much here to explore. Also, the recording that Ash and his friends find never fails to give me the heebie-jeebies. I highly recommend this Blu-ray release. I don’t remember the name of the guy who stood me up that night at the Haunted Trail, but I’ll always remember The Evil Dead…and that tree.

Reviewed by EDUARD <a href="; title="imageimage

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