The Evil Dead: Ultimate Edition

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

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. Anchor Bay has tapped The Evil Dead once again, but this time, we have three discs with dual visual presentations and ample supplements. As far as whether an upgrade is in order, that depends on how much you need to own. There are some new extras, some damn good ones too, but after so many releases, even the most dedicated Evil Dead has to stretched thin by this point.

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 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a full frame version also included on the second disc. This should satisfy everyone, as some prefer the full frame, while others want widescreen. Now you can pick for yourself, so the debate can rage on in peace and quiet. The downside is that the transfer is the same one as before and while it looks good, for the material, I can’t help but think it could be improved. But if you suffered through the various video incarnations over the years, this is still more than solid and should please most fans.

Audio: How does it sound?

I never imagined I’d own The Evil Dead in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX or DTS 6.1 ES, but lo and behold, the day has arrived. This is still a low budget movie however, so even these high end tracks can’t work miracles, though both tracks sound excellent. The surrounds are used often and provide ample atmosphere & power, while even bass is deep and powerful, very impressive indeed. The limits of the material are still obvious, as dialogue & music come off as less than stellar, but these tracks are as good as it gets, hands down. You’ll also find a 2.0 surround option, as well as French language options.

Supplements: What are the extras?

So what’s new this time around? One by One We Will Take You runs just under an hour and is a more than solid retrospective look at the production. The usual production issues are covered, from conception to completion, but there are a lot of humorous stories, so this is never a dull affair. You’ll hear from those involved in the production, as well as those influenced by it, which provides some great perspective. Also new is Treasures from the Cutting Room Floor, with an hour of assorted footage, but the presentation is so basic, its hard to follow. If this had even brief introductions here and there, the footage could have meant more, but even as is, fans are going to find some good stuff here.

Returning from the prior version are 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 carried over supplement is the theatrical trailer, which is always nice to have. Now on to the exclusive content, which includes a thirteen minute retrospective featurette titled Discovering Evil Dead. Also here is The Ladies of the Evil Dead, which is just what it sounds like, while Bruce Campbell Meets the Ladies of Evil Dead is again, just what the title implies. The Q&A session and reunion panel from Flashback 2005 are here too, as well as television spots, a makeup test, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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