Last week I had the pleasure of viewing the latest DVD version of “Evil Dead” which hits stores December 18th. The film was originally released in 1981 at a time when I was 7 years old and Zombies definitely weren’t on the film menu. Years later, I saw it at a friend’s house through the miracle of the VCR and was scarred for life. I hadn’t revisited this movie since grade school and I’m so glad I gave it another chance after all these years.
Whether you are a fan or not, this is an amazing DVD. It’s packed with extras including commentary from Sam Raimi, trailers, and tons of documentary footage. It was great to see Raimi’s evolution from this film to his current day box office monsters like “Spiderman.”
What really makes this movie great today is how it was made. It truly shows what someone with an incredible imagination, ultra-creative camerawork, tons of patience, and little or no money can do with a 16mm camera. It makes you realize how sad it is that today with all the technology we have, like palm sized HD cameras, we still don’t see too many people just grabbing gear and making films of this caliber. The movie will also make you appreciate good horror where the writer and filmmaker can let your imagination scare the hell out of you instead of just throwing buckets of blood and anatomically-correct digital effects your way.
Overall the story runs along your basic scary premise: teenagers take a car up to a cabin in the mountains for some recreation only to be interrupted by something that wants their souls. This is the film that really defined that line for years and years.
After arriving in the cabin, all hell literally breaks loose after one of the guys finds a book made from human flesh with drawings etched in blood. This would have been the first sign to haul ass if I had been in their shoes. After checking out the pretty pictures and listening to a mysterious tape concerning zombies and total body dismemberment, the gang begins to get a little creeped out. Soon after, one of their friends surprises everyone with her newfound psychic ability to read playing cards better than David Blane before immediately turning into a zombie and levitating in the corner.
As you can imagine, things get pretty hairy from there. There are scenes involving axes, chain-saws, pencils, and demons sporting some serious 1980’s top of the line, homemade sound effects. There is no dull moment in this film.
Aside from being an asset for any student filmmakers, this box set teaches the viewer so many valuable life lessons that go beyond any price tag that could be put on this package. I walked away with several new million-dollar golden nuggets of knowledge. Let me enlighten you with a few:
1. White smoke bubbling out of swampy water near a deserted mountain cabin does not make for an inviting and cozy recreational weekend environment.
2. If you ever find a book that happens to have a jacket made from human flesh, under no circumstances should you open it.
3. If you ever see a tree move more than the normal amount expected from blowing wind, just run unless you really want to get closer to nature.
4. In the event that one of your friend’s skin turns purple and their eyes suddenly go milky you should not hesitate to just grab the nearest axe and start hacking. Trust me, wrestling with your guilty conscience is not worth it.
5. If you do decide you can’t bring yourself to hack your friend up, don’t lock them in a place where their evil host can just taunt you all night as you battle the living dead. It just makes for added stress that you really won’t need.
6. Whenever possible, bring a chain-saw.
The bottom line is that this box set should be required viewing for any young filmmaker or horror movie fan. Do yourself a favor and spend Christmas with the undead and a little eggnog. Just steer clear of unlabeled books and tapes that your Uncle Frank finds tucked away in the back of your basement during the Christmas holidays.