Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Evil Dead (1981)

The biggest cult film ever? Well maybe. Back in the good old days of the 80's this film was seen as the biggest splatter fest flick ever here in the UK, it was banned in some countries and labelled the number one video nasty, top of the hit list. There was just no way in heaven or hell you would get to see this as a kid back in the day, it was just as bad as porn...if not worse! Will someone please think of the children!!

Well those days are long gone now and the film is looked upon as jokey and tame! A horror comedy with an iconic central character and bucket loads of hammy gory visuals. What is interesting for me is the fact this first film wasn't suppose to be a horror comedy, its not a horror comedy at all. Its only since the sequels that the franchise kinda leaned that way, this film was an all out horror which was suppose to scare people, and back in the day it did just that.

The main hook with this film is obviously the effects, its a horror film, ergo its effects are the main crux. The effects in this film are in places bad, they look cheesy, badly animated with dodgy editing. But the key thing to remember is this was because of budget restrains and limits on technology...but mainly lack of money. All the effects were made as best as they could make them, using every penny, every drop of fake blood, every piece of material gathered and utilising as much imagination as possible in both camera usage and illusion.

This ultimately makes the effects terrific despite the fact they do look very dated and highly dubious now. The films visuals are a success because of the fact Raimi and co had to be creative to get them done, they had to think out of the box with little money. This is why some older films work so well as they couldn't just sit back and rely on CGI to do it all for them, they had to really work and show real craftsmanship to make it work. All the blood, bone and goo may look corny in places but its real, its really there and basically that will always look better than CGI.

Of course back in the day the effects were seen as reasonable slick to a degree but still hokey, they weren't groundbreaking by any means. But the flair, creativity, ingenuity and sheer amount of gore was groundbreaking. Worst bit in the entire film for me? When a possessed Cheryl stabs Linda in the ankle with a pencil, oh my god that sound effect when the pencil punctures her foot! I think it was the sound of an apple getting pierced? Then the fact she twists and pulls on the pencil opening up the wound!! That always makes me wince.

The plot is so damn basic it hurts, plus what we see half the time is so stupid you can't help but laugh. Why would anyone want to spend time in a tiny remote cabin like that firstly, secondly when things get creepy why does one girl wander off into the dark dark woods alone? Errr...hello?? And then there's dumb ass Ash falling for the old 'help me I'm OK' trick from his possessed friends. Did I mention continuity errors like Ash's hair? Have to remind myself this film is very dated and was the first of its kind of sorts, this is the original horror in the woods.

For me its not as strong ever since the comedy themed sequels but its still a powerhouse of originality no doubt. The gore isn't shocking these days but more of a really good example and lesson in how to go about creating your own special effects. See what can be achieved with a little thought. Its not even particularly scary these days either, that ship has sailed now for most adults methinks, but its not about that, its just the cornball horror ride you get out of it, the thrills and the fact its such a classic now.