Stream to Scream: “THE EVIL DEAD’Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s in store, FANGORIA will be taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with this newest feature, Stream to Scream. This week: Sam Raimi’s seminal, scary THE EVIL DEAD.
There are few in the horror community that would argue against the importance of Sam Raimi’s THE EVIL DEAD, even if its intent is still debated. THE EVIL DEAD was another low-budget genre gamechanger, following the success of HALLOWEEN and THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT in years prior. Whereas its independently-produced brethren found their most horrific moments in minimalism however, THE EVIL DEAD focused on the supernatural to gruesomely stretch its dollar.
By now, most fright fans are familiar with THE EVIL DEAD, the film that arguably begot the “cabin in the woods” subgenre and spawned one of the most entertaining franchises in horror history. Yet there are not many who credit THE EVIL DEAD as a legitimate horror picture, often times harping on unintentionally campy moments or confusing it for a dark comedy. But even though the film is fun via Sam Raimi’s chaotic cinematic voice, the strength lies in its unrelenting scares.
THE EVIL DEAD introduced Raimi as a focused, resourceful director who knows exactly how hard to hit the audience when they’re least expecting it. Raimi understands how to specifically tailor the atmosphere of THE EVIL DEAD to his script, going heavy on brutality before easing back into quiet misdirection. In doing that, THE EVIL DEAD establishes an aura of mistrust between the audience and the filmmaker, as well as add to the paranoid behavior of our unlucky protagonists.
Above all, THE EVIL DEAD is a great exhibition of inspiration from filmmakers absolutely dead set on making something that hadn’t been done before, with very little money to do so. Tim Philo’s cinematography is incredibly dark at times, but often working to the films advantage as the realism of the situation feels much more unnerving. Tom Sullivan’s SFX are nothing short of creepy, and even if they’re a bit amateurish in style, they breathe life into the ghoulish performances and punctuate the gory moments. Finally, Joseph LoDuca adds a swelling, ominous score to further berate the audience’s senses as they witness the on-screen carnage.
However, THE EVIL DEAD finds strength in its cast as well, who offer solid performances that bounce between realistic dread to sensational ferocity. Bruce Campbell dedicates himself to his first depiction of “Ash,” perfectly embodying someone completely consumed by dread and desperation. Ellen Sandweiss, Theresa Tilly and Betsy Baker deliver with flying colors in their roles of the modest girls, relishing in their moments of psychological sadism. Rich DeManincor also surprises with a convincing role reversal from butch All-American to quivering victim, and later, to an oozing, ghastly monster.
Unsurprisingly, THE EVIL DEAD holds up effectively after over 30 years and still captures the imaginations of those giving it a late night viewing. No matter how spectacular Raimi’s output has become over the years, the root of his passion is extremely visible in THE EVIL DEAD, and it’s no surprise that the film has inspired countless others to make their own cabin-bound horror story. It may not be the most polished film, but it is definitely Raimi’s out-and-out scariest effort, grit and all.