FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 2, 2007

Day 2- "They're alive, Ashley!"

Sometimes, it's just so simple: five friends, a creepy cabin in the woods, an eeeeeevil book bound in human flesh and inked in human blood. Writer/director Sam Raimi took that simple premise and a $3 budget and managed to create a horror classic- one of the most twisted and dangerous films of my youth: The Evil Dead.

Before Ash (Bruce Campbell) was...well, Ash, with his wisecracks and his boomstick, he was just some guy who had to contend with a zombified sister locked away in the basement and a zombified girlfriend who wanted to kill him- and who wouldn't stop giggling. Ash became something of a horror icon and went on to star in two sequels (as well as a series of comic books) in which he kicks deadite ass and delivers zingy one-liners, but it's the first film that works best for me. Sure, Evil Dead (1981) is chock full of black humor, but it's also chock full of scares. The terrifying poster (complete with an endorsement from Stephen King!) was enough to get me intrigued, and the spooky cabin and white zombie pupils were enough to get me hooked.

Maybe it was the low-budget grainy film stock, maybe it was the dabbling in demon resurrection, or maybe it was all the blood and guts in the film's final act (and that's a lot of blood and guts), I can't say for sure. There's something about The Evil Dead, however, that just feels wrong. It was sort of like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to a young Final Girl- I felt naughty for even watching it...which, of course, means I loved it all the more. Simply put, it scared the life outta me. I remember watching it with a friend and it scared her so badly that she refused to take the tape out of the VCR- she didn't even want to touch it.

At this time in my life, I still have a soft spot for the film, but it no longer keeps me up at night...although I still get the willies when things go to hell and Cheryl levitates and gets gross and demonlicious. I find even more enjoyment, though, in watching Evil Dead to study Sam Raimi's direction; sure, the movie was made for about $3, but he does some amazing stuff with that three bucks. Like most of the great horror directors, though (like Carpenter and Romero, say), Raimi made a bonafide horror classic without much more than his natural abilities. There's some fantastic, innovative filmmaking going on, and it's no surprise that Raimi has gone on to an extremely successful career.

What's most amazing, though, is that the film still feels fresh 25 years after its release (omigaawwwwwwd that makes me feel really really old...gah! my bursitis is acting up again!). A cast of amateurs, unknown filmmakers...sometimes, I guess, all you need is a creepy cabin and a little moxie. Sounds easy, right?


-Chris- said...

My favorite of the series. To me Ash is better as a regular, scared guy.

Also I wish I has $3 so I could make a movie.

Anonymous said...

What you said. Great, great little film. Also, the DVD commentary track is worth the purchase price. If I'm remembering right, it's got Raimi and Campbell, the latter mostly complaining hilariously about how the former abused him ferociously to get good shots. Raimi's technical comments are very interesting.

Anonymous said...

I just re-watched this a couple of days ago, and was surprised by how creeped-out I was. Somehow, the bits that had stuck in my mind over the years were the aggressive shelving units and the occasional up-nostril camera angles, not the unstoppable malevolent giggling.
It's a credit to everyone involved that they managed to get the "near-constant onslaught of horror" style to work without much of a budget.
PS- I've read enormous chunks of your archive over the last week. I've never been much of a slasher fan, so it's been a highly entertaining education. Good on yer, Ponder.

Rey Nova said...

I love all the trilogy, but this is very special, very scary.

Stacie Ponder said...

"It's a credit to everyone involved that they managed to get the "near-constant onslaught of horror" style to work without much of a budget."

Exactly- it's amazing how much some filmmakers can get out of very little.

And thanks! :)

Amanda By Night said...

I liked this movie, but I have to admit I'm not a huge fan. It's scary, but it's not a movie I really want to watch too often, nor do I think about it.

I know, that puts me in the minority again.

But I really do appreciate everything you said about what they did with so little. It's really a work of art in a lot of respects. I mean, there are scenes where I'm like "How did they do that?!?"

Almost makes me want to get raped by a tree!

Melizer said...

IMDB has another The Evil Dead slated to be released next year. It says he is going to write the screenplay after he chooses a director. The entry was last updated in March. Any news?

Also, he plans not to include the Ash character, but Bruce Campbell stars as himself (but is mistaken for his character Ash) in My Name Is Bruce. Any news on that one?

Anonymous said...

Yeah Amanda, the tree rape still freaks me out. Best of the series and the only one that is scary.

Anonymous said...

My fav. horror movie of ALL time, period. I remember watching this flick on TV at 11pm when I was a youngster and got traumatized since then.

Albert Cumberdale said...

I should have listened to you. I watched this movie alone at night thinking that it would be funny ('cause that's what I had heard of the Evil Dead films)and it scared the hell out of me. I was so wishing it to end and stop tortuting me. I think that, appart from Audition (wich scared me even more and had me literally screaming "No! No! Stop, please! Not the eyes!")this is the more scared I've been watching a movie.