Evil Dead 3

The Evil Dead

The Evil Dead (also known as Evil Dead, The Book of the Dead, Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead and The Evil Dead: The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror) is a 1981 cult classic horror film written and directed by Sam Raimi, and starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss and Betsy Baker. The film tells the story of five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in the woods. Their vacation turns into a nightmare when they find an audiotape that is the key to unlocking evil spirits.

The film was extremely controversial for its graphic violence and gore, being initially turned down by almost all U.S. film distributors until a European company picked it up. It was finally released into theaters on October 15, 1981. Although its budget was just $375,000, the film was a moderate success at the box office, grossing a total of $2,400,000 in the U.S. upon its initial release. Despite getting mixed reviews by critics at the time, it is now widely accepted as a classic of the horror genre and has a dedicated worldwide cult following. The film also spawned two sequels entitled: The Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness.

When the film was submitted for a rating in 1994 the MPAA classified it with an NC-17 rating. When the distribution company Elite Entertainment released the film on DVD in 1999 they retained the NC-17 version. Anchor Bay Entertainment has since acquired the DVD rights to the film, and their subsequent releases have surrendered the rating to allow them to release the film unrated.


Five Michigan State University students venture into the hills and mountains of Tennessee to spend a weekend in an isolated cabin. There they find the Book of the Dead (a Babylonian and Sumerian text, unrelated to the Egyptian Book of the Dead), otherwise known as the Naturon Demonto (renamed the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the sequels).

While searching the basement of the cabin, the students find and play a tape recording of demonic incantations from the book, unwittingly resurrecting the slumbering demons that thirst for revenge. The characters are then possessed one by one, beginning with Cheryl (Sandweiss) after she is lured into the forest by the Evil Force at night. Alone and far from the safety of the cabin, the woods come alive in a snake-like fashion and Cheryl is brutally raped by the evil force in sequences of intense, bloody violence and horrifying voice-overs. Cheryl makes it home to the cabin but nobody believes her. Her brother Ash then decides to drive her into town where she can stay the night. They discover that the only road bridge is completely destroyed and the supports are bent into the shape of a hand. Soon thereafter, Cheryl becomes a demon and stabs Linda in the ankle with a pencil. They lock her in the fruit-cellar, but afterward Shelly becomes possessed and attacks Scotty, who dismembers her with an axe. They wrap the dismembered body-parts in a blanket and bury them, after which Scotty leaves to find a trail out of the woods.

Ash goes to check on Linda, but finds her to be possessed also. Scotty returns, but has suffered massive injuries inflicted by the trees. Before losing consciousness he tells Ash there is a trail in the woods. After Linda tricks Ash by (seemingly) returning to normal, Ash drags her outside. He goes back to check on Scotty, but finds that he died from his injuries. Linda later returns and tries to stab Ash, but she is stabbed through the chest by a dagger.

Ash drags her outside to cut her up with a chainsaw, but finds that he cannot bring himself to do it, and simply buries her instead. She rises from the grave and, after a violent struggle, Ash beheads her with a shovel. He returns to find the cellar door flown open. He hears a noise from Shelly and Scott's bedroom. With the shotgun, he goes in to investigate and suspects Cheryl may be in the closet. Cheryl jumps at the window of which a demon had earlier broken through to possess Shelly and tries to take the shotgun from Ash, grabbing at it wildly. Ash shoots her in the chest, but it seems to have no effect. Ash then proceeds to barricade both the front and back doors. He runs back into the cellar to find a box of shotgun shells and experiences a strange series of events including the cellar filling with blood and hearing illusive voice-overs in his mind. Cheryl tries to attack Ash through the door, but he shoots her and then slides a bookshelf in front of the door.

Meanwhile, Scotty's dead body suddenly revives to reveal that the evil spirits have now possessed him as well, only to have his eyes gouged out by Ash after a brief struggle. Ash notices that The Book of the Dead has fallen near the fireplace and is starting to burn. Ash notices that Scotty's body is starting to burn as well, giving an allusion that disposal of the book into the fire will also destroy the demons. Before he can reach it, however, Cheryl successfully breaks in through the front door and easily knocks him to the floor. Scotty then pins Ash to the floor while Cheryl grabs a fireplace poker and repeatedly hits Ash in the back with it. Ash manages to grab the book after several attempts, using the necklace he had given to Linda earlier in the film, and throws it directly into the blazing flames just as Cheryl raises the fireplace poker to hit him again. The demons immediately stop, almost completely inanimate, and begin to rot away as dawn breaks, leaving Ash to be the only survivor. He heads outside and stands there for a while, thinking he has survived the ordeal; but the last remaining demon in the forest behind the cabin speeds through the forest, breaks its way through the cabin doors, and we see Ash turning around, screaming in terror, just as the Evil attacks him.


Raimi and Co. managed to secure a shooting budget of less than $120,000, and with the cast and crew, headed for a wilderness cabin in the woods near Morristown, Tennessee. The movie was shot over a period of about 1.5 years. Raimi used 'shemps' or 'stand-ins' to replace the actors who had left. One of the only actors loyal to the project from the beginning was Bruce Campbell, who went through torturous circumstances as the character 'Ash.' According to the Evil Dead DVD commentary, he would often return home after a night of shooting in the back of a pick-up truck, as he was usually covered in fake blood made from a mixture of corn syrup, food coloring, and non-dairy coffee creamer.

Actors Richard DeManincor (Scott) and Theresa Tilly (Shelly) both went under different "stage names" during the shoot, since they were members of the Screen Actors Guild and wanted to avoid being penalized for participating in a non-union production. They are credited in the credits as "Hal Delrich" for Richard and "Sarah York" for Theresa.

According to Bruce Campbell's autobiography, If Chins Could Kill, Richard acquired his stage name by combining his short name with his roommates' names, Hal & Del.

Joel Coen, who later became a part of the Academy Award winning Coen Brothers filmmaking duo, served as an assistant editor on the film.


Because of its graphic violence, the original version of the movie was banned in several countries, including Finland, Germany, Iceland and Ireland. The "tree rape" scene in the movie was also described by some as being misogynistic. In Germany, the movie's release was hindered by public authorities for almost 10 years. Original 1982 cinema and video releases of the movie had been seized, making the movie a hit on the black market video circuit with pirated copies abounding. Several high-profile horror enthusiasts publicly criticized the German ban on the movie, including author Stephen King (who gave it a rave review in the November 1982 issue of Twilight Zone). A heavily edited version was made legally available in 1992. In 2001 an uncut German DVD version was released, but the Berlin-Tiergarten Court ordered seizure of the DVD in April 2002 (Case Number 351 Gs 1749/02). In Finland, The Evil Dead was later released uncut on DVD by Future Film, and rated K-18. In the United Kingdom, the movie was one of the first to be labeled a video nasty in the mid-1980s and was finally released uncut in 2001.

In other media

  • As of September 2008, the movie continues to have a rating of 100% for all 41 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • In the basement of the cabin where Ash finds his friend and they discover the Morturom Demonto, there is a ripped poster of Wes Craven's 1977 horror film, The Hills Have Eyes. In the Anchor Bay DVD commentary it is remarked that this was an intentional joke after Hills Have Eyes director Wes Craven inserted a torn Jaws poster in to his 1977 film.
  • In Wes Craven's 1984 horror film, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Nancy is watching Evil Dead on television.
  • In Wes Craven's 1996 horror film, Scream, it is brought up as an option to watch at the party.
  • In the movie Donnie Darko, The Evil Dead is being shown on the big screen during the theater scene.
  • The music video to "Everlong" by Foo Fighters has several scenes similar to those in The Evil Dead.
  • The music video to "Awaken" by the Rap/Rock hybrid group NME produced by Dino Cazares is * Director Hugo V's homage to the Evil Dead films.
  • The music video to "Blood Red Sandman" by the Scandinavian heavy metal band Lordi is heavily based on The Evil Dead movies. It is set in an abandoned cabin in the woods that is invaded by several late teen / twenty-somethings that start a tape player that then summons the dead.
  • The film was mentioned in the lyrics of "The Toys Go Winding Down" by alternative rock band, Primus off the first studio album, Frizzle Fry.
  • In the video game Bully, posters in the Girl's Dorm say Evil Head, a parody of Evil Dead.
  • The music video for the song "Love?" by extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad is heavily influenced by The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, borrowing the abandoned cabin as a setting and utilising the famous rushing camera shot with a similar sound effect.
  • Two levels in the video game Ghost Master use the cabin location and props (tape recorder, book, mirror etc) as a direct homage to the first two films, as well as incorporating a variation on the plot.
  • Twiztid's Cryptic Collection Vol. 2 contains a song entitled "I Remember" in which member Jamie Madrox raps "I remember watchin' Evil Dead, at 4 'o clock in the morning, every night all summer"
  • Two drum and bass tracks from the mid-90s sampled dialogue from the Evil Dead films: Subnation's "Scottie" (Future Vinyl, 1993) and Fallen Angels "Hello Lover" (IQ Records, 1994)
  • In the YTV show Reboot that aired in the 90s, there is a game in which the main characters must fight a character with a shotgun and a chainsaw for a hand similar to Ash.


There have been a variety of spin-offs and tie-ins including a musical and comic mini-series.

Evil Dead: The Musical

With the approval of both Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, a musical version of the film was staged, enjoying a successful workshop in Toronto and performances at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal in 2004. The New York off-Broadway production started previews on October 2, 2006. The official Opening Night performance was November 1, 2006. The show continued with 8 performances per week at the New World Stages until closing February 17, 2007. Evil Dead: The Musical has recently started production in Toronto starting from May 1, 2007 with the run extended from June 23, 2007 to August 4, 2007. On August 4, 2007 it was announced that the show has now been extended for a final time until September 8, 2007, excepting its further extensions to May 3, 2008, June 14, 2008 and August 2, 2008. A production is also scheduled to open at the Campbell Theatre in Martinez, CA on June 13, 2008.

Comic book

In January 2008, Dark Horse Comics began releasing a four part monthly comic book mini-series based on Evil Dead, written by Mark Verheiden, with art by John Bolton, who provided art for the Dark Horse Army of Darkness comic. The comic miniseries has several noticeable differences from the film, such as Cheryl being only a friend of Linda, and not Ash's sister.

Dynamite Entertainment has an on-going "Army of Darkness" series and several mini-series and cross-over mini-series, featuring horror characters such as Darkman, the Marvel Zombies and Herbert West.

Earlier Incarnations

Before The Evil Dead, there was Within the Woods (1978), a movie that had a similar plot to The Evil Dead and also starred Bruce Campbell. The short film was made as a prototype to convince possible investors to fund the feature The Evil Dead.


External links

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