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Synopsis: Evil Dead is the story of five college-age friends who travel to a cabin in rural Tennessee where the stumble upon the Book of the Dead, an ancient tome bound in human flesh and inked in blood. After unwittingly awakening the unspeakable terror told of in the book, each of the friends is transformed into the evil dead, one by one, except for Ash (Bruce Campbell). So, Ash is left with no other way to survive than to dismember the living corpses of his sister, girlfriend, and two of his friends.
Obviously, by the title alone, this is not for everyone's taste, and boy, do I pity those who can't stomach this kind of film. Low-budget, I mean low-budget, indie horror film that really set the pace and tone of horror films over the next 20 years.
Add to the mix that director Sam Raimi is responsible for the up-coming Spiderman movie and Bruce Campbell has gone on to have a varied and surprisingly successful (albeit at times campy) career then you realize the early talent these men showed.
This should be shown in film school's as an example of making your movie through adversity. Technically it shows its flaws to a savvier audience now...(the split screen cut around the moon in some shots is so evident it is laughable)...but the nastiness of what is on the screen and how in your face it is really gets the audience involved and those that are fans swear by the movie as one of the be all end all horror films ever made.
Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul
Book of the Dead Limited Edition Version
Audio Commentary 1 with Writer/Director Sam Raimi and Producer Robert Tapert
Audio Commentary 2 with Star Bruce Campbell
Behind The Scenes Footage & Outtakes
Fanalysis: An All-New 26-Minute Documentary by Bruce Campbell
Discovering Evil Dead: An All-New Featurette Tracing The Films History Humble Beginnings to Legendary Status
Poster & Still Gallery
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1 (Anamorphic)
ENGLISH: DTS ES 6.1 [CC]
ENGLISH: DD-EX Surround [CC]
FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1
The DVD Review:
Well, I don't have to tell anyone who's a fan of Raimi and Co. how cool this DVD is. Imagine my absolute glee when I first saw this pop up on an upcoming DVD website.
The Evil Dead and its two sequels are a horror institution. Through the creative genius of Sam Raimi and the physical sacrifices of Bruce 'The King' Campbell and countless other dedicated people like Rob Tapert, Ellen Sandweiss and Josh Becker, history was made in that remote area of Tennessee.
The first thing I noticed after opening the package was the strong paint smell, as if it had dried only hours before I bought it. The book and pages were designed by Tom Sullivan and are lavishly recreated from the film. This DVD is so well done; it's hard to believe that it's been mass-produced. There is also a booklet inside that traces the history of Evil Dead on video, documenting its many facelifts and formats.
The special features on the DVD are great. There is a thirty-minute featurette called Fanalysis, where Bruce Campbell turns the camera around, spending some time showing the ravenous fans that he has encountered over the years.
Discovering Evil Dead is an insightful documentary about Palace Pictures' early distribution of the film and its survival through the 'video nasty' years.
Also included are two commentaries. The Bruce Campbell commentary is hilarious and worth the price of the DVD just by itself. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Bruce Campbell last year at his Toronto book signing and not only is he a class act, but also a natural public speaker. He was extremely personable and appreciative that people had come out to see him. This down to earth manner comes through on his commentary and makes the film even more enjoyable. The Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert commentary is a little more subdued, but still informative. They remain aware throughout the film that they might be copying what Bruce has already said, so it happens rarely. There is also an outtake reel and behind the scenes footage, as well as the requisite trailer and TV spots.
My only disappointment with this DVD release was that, in all early accounts, Within The Woods, the short film that was made to raise money for Evil Dead, was to be included in this edition, but was for some reason left off. Now, I suppose it may be an Easter egg that I have not found yet, but that's my only complaint (NOTE: It apparently was left off the disc entirely -ed.). I did find some Easter eggs, however. There is a short one of raw footage of some makeup effects and also a five-minute clip from a convention that took place late last year. I had actually heard rumours of Rob Tapert's comments from this convention previously and it was a good move to stick it on this DVD to keep everybody informed.
I actually watched Evil Dead three times this week. It was being screened in a small Toronto theater the day after the DVD came out, so I had to go for obvious reasons. It was a very enjoyable experience. The print was good quality and the crowd was great. The other two times was the next day when I watched both commentaries. The fantastic thing is that I was never bored; I just soaked up all the great tidbits of the Evil Dead universe, like a sponge. If you don't know an It's Murder bar from a fake shemp, then these three guys will show you the way.
This is a great buy and must have for not only Raimi fans, but also film buffs in general. This may seem like a bold statement, but let me tell you a little story. When I was a teenager I worked in a video store (go figure) and when customers used to come looking for a horror flick, the other employees would direct them to me. One time, these three film students came up to me and asked if I could recommend something. I had a list of films in my head that I used to rhyme off automatically and I said, 'Well, if you're film majors, I guess you must have seen Evil Dead.' One of them replied, 'Aw, yah that was crap!' I looked at them in surprise and said, 'you guys are film students and you didn't like Evil Dead?' They stood there nodding. I threw my hands up, muttering something like 'I can't help you' and walked away. The point to this story is that even if you are not a fan of the horror genre, if you can't admit that this is a fine and spirited piece of filmmaking, well, like I said to those three guys years ago, 'I can't help you.'
Copyright© Written By: Tom Servo