Staff Recommendation/ The Evil Dead

Cornerhouse Chief Projectionist Garry Watson recommends The Evil Dead

“The most ferociously original horror film of the year” declared Stephen King, “a black rainbow of horror”. These words from the renowned best-selling novelist, helped make Sam Raimi’s low budget 16mm shocker The Evil Dead a video hit in early 1980’s pre-nasties Britain.

Distributed by the much-missed (by me, anyway) Palace Pictures in the UK, the film’s kinetic energy and startlingly brutal splatter effects soon gained it a sizable cult following. Until, that is, it virtually disappeared in a blizzard of controversy after being branded a ‘Video Nasty’ in that ludicrous and hysterical period between 1982-83. Raimi himself was summoned to the courts to defend his film, after which it was acquitted and free to go. But horror fans still had to wait a decade or so for a legitimate video release while the censor’s dragged their heels.

Even then it was cut to shreds, drastically softening the films impact. But now, in these enlightened times, we can have the freedom to see it full strength and intact. The plot is simplicity itself – five young people staying in a cabin in the woods unwittingly unleash a demonic force. Who will survive ’til dawn?

This is a horror film for sure but it’s outrageous excesses make it a fun ride and Raimi’s continually inventive and energetic camera tricks are a joy to behold. This is pure unbridled filmmaking above all else, but also, to quote the filmmakers themselves, “The Ultimate Experience In Grueling Horror!”