The Evil Dead emerges as the ne plus ultra of low-budget gore and shock effects.

Story premise has five youngsters (in their 20s) holed up in a remote cabin where they discover a Book of the Dead. Archaeologist’s tape recording reveals it having been found among the Khandarian ruins of a Sumerian civilization. Playing the taped incantations unwittingly summons up dormant demons living in the nearby forest, which possess the youngsters in succession until only Ash (Bruce Campbell) is left intact to fight for survival.

While injecting considerable black humor, neophyte Detroit-based writer-director Sam Raimi maintains suspense and a nightmarish mood in between the showy outbursts of special effects gore and graphic violence which are staples of modern horror pictures. Powerful camerawork suggests the lurking presence of the huge-scale demons in the forest.

Filmed in 1980 on Tennessee and Michigan locations for under $400,000, pic is a grainy blowup from 16mm. Cast is functional.

The Evil Dead

  • Production: Renaissance. Director Sam Raimi; Producer Robert Tapert; Screenplay Sam Raimi; Camera Tim Philo; Editor Edna Ruth Paul; Music Joseph Lo Duca
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1983. Running time: 85 MIN.
  • With: Bruce Campbell Ellen Sandweiss Betsy Baker Hal Delrich Sarah York