THE EVIL DEAD
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor
One of the big problems with writing about classic movies is that views are well established; there is little new to be said and the consensus is the film is, well, classic.
So what happens when you view something supposedly great and you don't agree? This is art of course, nobody's opinion is wrong. But you can run the risk of casting yourself out by swimming against the tide of something in the pantheon. Wherever I look, The Evil Dead is thought of as a classic.
Personally, I thought it stank.
Now, even if you love the film and instantly hate me for that line, stay with me a moment. Because, even though the film is poor in my view, I'm going to attempt to explain why I think that I can yet accept that it has a rightful place in the horror hall of fame.
What's that you say? A complete contradiction? Well maybe, let us see.
Firstly, here's why I think the film is poor: the narrative is paper thin, the characters thinner. The horror is recycled time and time again. The characters do stupid, stupid things for no reason. The continuity is all over the place. The acting is hackneyed. The exposition just hideously placed. The film is simply an excuse to use gross out special effects and it priorities them far above developing a good story.
Let me unfurl that some more. I did just go to town on the film with a chainsaw, the least I can do is to explain.
What we have in The Evil Dead is a groan-tastic premise to start with. Group of young guys and girls go to cabin in woods, awaken terrible evil, fight for survival. I'm okay with this. It was 1981, that's okay. We learn right away that something is out there in the woods and it's not feeling too friendly towards our heroes. There's some creepy set up stuff as they get to the cabin as apparently the presence awaits them. Then things kick into over drive when the gang find a perfectly preserved tape recorder which just happens to have the audio notes of a scholar working on the subject of evil spirits. While listening to said notes, the professor recites a chant which calls forth the dead.
Here I got confused. The dead were seemingly already up and about, trying to make mischief on the roads, calling "join us" through gaping windows and banging on trapdoors. Weren't they? I still can't quite understand what the chanting achieved but never mind, either way here come the Evil Dead of the title.
In the form of trees.
Ok never mind, just go with it. The trees entice Cheryl, previously distressed by haunting experiences in early scenes, outside (why go outside, what's that going to achieve? Never mind, just go with it). Then the trees rape her and apparently infect her.