The Evil Dead. 1981. USA. Written and directed by Sam Raimi. With Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly. 35mm. 85 min.
Important safety tip: If you find a tape of incantations from an ancient Sumerian Necronomicon in an old, abandoned cabin…don’t press play. In Sam Raimi’s ultra-low-budget feature debut, a quintet of Michigan State students do just that, and all hell literally breaks loose in a wildly kinetic, impossibly blood-drenched explosion of terrifying, hilarious demonic mayhem. With little money and even less experience, Raimi and the rest of his cast and crew (including his boyhood friend and unexpected star, Bruce Campbell) turned genuine physical discomfort and bare-bones equipment into assets; the performances have a raw immediacy and the camera performs seemingly impossible feats reminiscent of Surrealist film and Warner Bros. cartoons. Both on and off screen, The Evil Dead dared to ask the question: What can the human body endure?