The Evil Dead – Steelbook (Blu-ray)

July 2, 2014 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Five friends. One cabin. Acres of wooded land. One tape recorder. These elements are the core of this storyline. Five friends take a little time away from the hustle and bustle of life to relax for the weekend in a remote cabin. The cabin is located deep within the woods, and is as spooky as they come. One of the friends finds a tape recording machine, and curiosity forces them to listen to the message on the reels. What they hear is the voice of a man who believes he has located the book of the dead, also known as The Necronomicon. The voice on the recorder proceeds to read passages and incantations from the book, which seems harmless to the group. But in truth, the reading of the passages alone is enough to awaken the evil that permeates the forest around the cabin. This is where things begin to turn sour, and the vacation becomes more of a battle for survival for the friends. One by one, the evil overtakes the friends, until only Ash (Bruce Campbell) is remaining. With time running out on him and the evil closing in, can Ash manage to survive the onslaught and escape?

The Evil Dead, the first movie in the classic Evil Dead trilogy, which is one my favorite series in all of movies. While there was a plethora of low budget horror movies in the late 70s and early 80s, this is one of the few that left a permanent mark. When you discuss cult classics, this is a film that is bound to find its way into the conversation. Despite the lack of funds, the movie manages to pack a mean punch, delivering large doses of gore, thrills, and humor. The last of those elements is what really sets this movie above others in the genre, as The Evil Dead is able to use humorous bits well, while the attempts from other horror movies seem to fall flat most of the time. Sure, the comedy is cheesy, but it’s hilarious, and that is what matters, right? While not as polished as the two follow up films, this movie has everything it needs to provide top notch horror/comedy entertainment. This movie has a steady flow of blood and gore, so be prepared if you’re of weak stomach. With a movie this cool and a disc this loaded, I am pleased to recommend this edition with my highest commendation.

This movie was the first directorial effort from the now established Sam Raimi. Raimi’s directing is excellent for this type of movie, with a frantic pace and energy. We see the early attempts at unique camera angle and movement, which he would later turn into a true tool in the later Evil Dead movies and other efforts. While Raimi is best known for his work on all three films in the Evil Dead trilogy, he has now proved himself to the critics, but movie goers have shunned his recent non horror efforts. While critics loved A Simple Plan, audiences avoided it at the theaters, and both critics and ticket buyers kept clear of his baseball flick, For Love Of The Game, which I thought was very good. Bruce Campbell, with his insane physical humor and drastic facial expressions, steals the show in this movie. Campbell (Running Time, The Hudsucker Proxy) has performed in many other projects, but fans still remember him fondly as the man behind Ash. The supporting cast for The Evil Dead includes Betsy Baker, Hal Delrich, Ellen Sandweiss, and Sarah York.

Video: How’s it look?

Since I’ve never owned an edition of this film, I can’t compare it to other versions out there, but this disc includes both a Full-Screen edition and a 1.85:1 widescreen edition. Only the widescreen is reviewed here. The transfer is great and is likely the best the film will ever look. Supposedly this is a director approved transfer and for good reason. More diehard fans should be pleased to have both formats on this disc, but I think I’ll always opt to watch the widescreen version. For such a low budget horror film, this looks better than it probably should. Fans will be pleased. This is still the same disc from a few years back. The commentary states that it’s 2009 so this is simply a repacked steel-book.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The Dolby True HD track also impresses. It stays reasonably busy throughout the film and keeps you involved. Rears stayed active, vocals were strong and had a nice crisp sound to them. The film gets a little wild in the second half and the track adds a nice kick to many of the scenes later in the film. The film has almost the perfect setting to take advantage of its surroundings and it does just that. Fans will enjoy this quite a bit.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This is a repackaging of an already-released disc from a few years back. We only get one supplement, but it’s a good one. The steel-book case features one of the nicer images I’ve seen. The cover is simple and straightforward and doesn’t try to oversell things. There’s a rear image, but no inner art, sadly.

  • Audio Commentary – Recorded in 2009, this track features Raimi, Campbell and Robert Tapert. It’s an informative track that fans will get a kick out of. I imagine most fans have probably heard this already since this track is from 2009. Still, it’s worth a listen for those who’ve yet to hear it.

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