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 does it look?
The Evil Dead is presented in its original aspect ratio, which translates to a full frame transfer. If you’ve ever seen this movie on previous formats, you will have to pinch yourself, just to make sure you’re not dreaming! The image is so crisp and sharp, it’s almost shocking, given the low budget origins of the movie. The colors are rich and bright, especially the reddish tones, which appear quite often. Flesh tones also look natural and consistent, and contrast levels are accurate, with no detail loss or overly bright scenes. The print shows some flecks and nicks, but aside from those minor issues, this is a perfect transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
Elite has included a remastered audio track with this release, which presents the audio in an outstanding Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Since this is a remaster from the original mono track, the audio isn’t as powerful as more recent tracks, but when taken into perspective, this track is awesome. The surrounds see plenty of action, even the bass kicks a few times, and the atmosphere of the film is improved because of it. The dialogue is sharp and always audible, with no separation problems at all. It is worth mentioning that the disc also includes a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track, which provides a better sound than the 5.1 downmix.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes two, count ’em, two audio commentary tracks. One features director Sam Raimi and producer Robert Tapert, while the other has the comments of actor Bruce Campbell. The tracks are both worth a listen to fans of the movie, but they cover different angles on the subject, so choose the track you prefer. If you want technical information, listen to the Raimi/Tapert track, but if humor is your goal, the Campbell commentary is hilarious. Together, the tracks offer a comprehensive look into the film. If you’re a more visual person, the disc has a wonderful still photo gallery, that has over one hundred and fifty stills to gaze upon. The stills cover every topic you can think of, behind the scenes, character shots, even pictures of Raimi hard at work. For this edition of The Evil Dead, Raimi personally selected about twenty minutes of behind the scenes footage and alternate takes, which gives a little look at the production. The final supplement is the theatrical trailer, which is always nice to have.