The Evil Dead (1981) – Gruesome Cabin Horror

The Evil Dead is one of the best-known movies in the cabin horror genre and an absolute cult classic.

With a tiny budget, Sam Raimi managed to create extremely gruesome gore which had me sitting disgusted in front of the screen for the last 15 minutes (mostly because of its content and partly because of its cheap look) and sometimes I even had to look away. Boy, that must have shocked audiences in the 80s, who weren’t as indifferent towards violence as we are nowadays. If I would have seen this as a teenager, I would have been deeply unsettled (or imagine a 5-year-old).

Copyright: Renaissance Pictures / New Line Cinema

The movie starts off with the classic premise: A group of teenagers drives to stay in a secluded house somewhere in a forest for a weekend. We already see there’s gonna be trouble when the bridge (the only one to reach the house) partly collapses. The group later finds a mysterious book, the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, and a tape underneath a hatch. Ash (Bruce Campbell) and Scotty play the tape, which has incantations recorded on it. Ash’s sister Cheryl goes outside as she heard something and then the infamous and disturbing tree rape happens. The others don’t believe her after she managed to escape but Ash agrees to drive her back. “Surprisingly”, the bridge has collapsed and their only exit route is gone. After Ash listens to more of the tape, Cheryl becomes possessed by a demon and attacks the others. They lock her under the hatch.

Copyright: Renaissance Pictures / New Line Cinema

So from here on at the latest, the film picks up speed and becomes scary. In the beginning, the viewer doesn’t quite know what’s going on (which is kinda hard as you probably have heard something about this classic by now) but you soon figure it has something to do with that book. The possessed people are mostly scary, unlike in the sequel where everything becomes more comedic. Then one by one becomes possessed and has to be killed and the film gets a bit lost in all the slightly ludicrous gore which becomes repetitive after a while. However, Ash’s final battle is thrilling again (and we see the dawn of his signature shotgun) and the gore sequence at the end was a bit too disgusting for my taste. In general, one has to pay respect to Raimi for accomplishing an effective horror movie with that little money; something like the very quick camera movement through the forest to symbolize the evil spirit racing towards the cabin works just fine. Every genre fan will already have seen this one; if not, I think it’s a must-see.


BTW: A very interesting youtube video about the creation of The Evil Dead with its tiny budget can be found here:

shorter German version:

Junge, Junge, hätte ich den Film damals in den 80ern gesehen, als man noch nicht so abgestumpft in Puncto Gewalt war, dann hätte mich der Film völlig verstört. Tanz der Teufel bietet grausigen, ekelhaften Gore, bei dem ich die letzten 15 Minuten mit zusammengezogenem Gesicht dagesessen habe und sogar ein paar Mal kurz weggucken musste. Das liegt größtenteils an dem Inhalt, aber zum Teil auch daran, dass alles so billig aussieht. Aber mit diesem Mikro-Budget so einen Film erfolgreich hinzukriegen, da sollte man doch Sam Raimi ziemlich Respekt zollen.
Evil Dead ist einer der bekanntesten Vertreter des Cabin Horror und ein absoluter Kultfilm, auch aufgrund seiner trotz Mini-Budget wirkungsvollen Gore-Sequenzen, die ab Teil 2 eher schon komödiantisch waren. Hier war der Tonus noch insgesamt ernster.
Der Film nimmt nach 20 Mnuten deutlich an Fahrt auf, spätestens in der ersten Szene, in der jemand besessen ist, erschrickt man dann doch etwas. Dia Situation ist ziemlich spannend, besonders noch wenn man nicht weiß, was abgeht (was heutzutage aufgrund des Kultstatus nicht mehr so einfach gegeben ist). Auch die berüchtigte Baumszene wirkt etwas verstörend. Der Film verliert sich mMn nur etwas zu sehr in seinem leicht skurrilen Gesplatter, was irgendwann etwas repetitiv wirkt, bevor Ash im Finale noch mal einen packenden Kampf abliefert. Die Gore-Sequenz zum Ende hin hat mich absolut fertig gemacht, das war mir etwas zu eklig. Absoluter Klassiker, muss man als Genrefan gesehen haben, man sollte aber auch einen starken Magen mitbringen.

Images taken from, © by Renaissance Pictures/New Line Cinema


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