The Rise of Ash

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Sam Raimi is a director that will always have a special place in my life. He’s the man behind the first Spiderman movies (which were all amazing by the way), and after a long time, he returns to making another superhero movie with the recent Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness movie. After that, I felt the need to experience some more ‘Raimi’ movies, and what better way to start than the movie that was pivotal in his career in the first place, The Evil Dead franchise.

Starting off was The Evil Dead, the first movie of the trilogy which was released in 1981. Written and directed by Raimi himself, the movie became a cult-classic and a well beloved movie for many. In fact, you could argue it was one of the most successful cult films of all time, and kick-starting the careers of both Raimi himself and Bruce Campbell.

Raimi is known for his personal brand of horror, and it all began with The Evil Dead, the first movie that started it all. It follows the horrifying paranormal experiences of a group of young adults who decide to vacation in a remote cabin far from civilisation. Turns out, the previous occupant of the cabin often engaged in experiments regarding the occult, using a particular book called the ‘Necronomicon’. After accidently reading aloud some lines from the cursed book, evil dead souls arise to torment the friends, eventually possessing all of them albeit one – Ashley who is left with no choice but to defend himself.

Talking any further would go into spoiler territory sadly, but rest assured that the plot, although simple, is adequate enough to suspend your disbelief and get you watching through a perfectly entertaining 85 minutes of run-time.

Of course, there are a few things you need to have in mind when you are watching The Evil Dead, one of them being that this is a movie from 1981, and a lot has developed over the past 42 years, one of them being makeup and special effects. In fact, the movie didn’t have a lot of budget to begin with. But it is impressive how Raimi has been able to avoid any moments that would break the experience and jar the viewer.

There are some really clever filmmaking tactics observed to hide the low budget production quality, and it truly is impressive how the movie still stands today as a convincing horror film.

But The Evil Dead movies aren’t any run-of-the-mill horror franchise. It is one of the movie series that did amazingly well as a horror-comedy. There’s no laugh tracks to guide you through which moments are funny and which ones aren’t, but I would be surprised if you watched through even the first movie without letting out at least a chuckle at some point.

In fact, Raimi’s The Evil Dead is good, from start to finish, a perfect, clear and gripping tale following Ashley’s survival, and his evolution into becoming the beloved character we know him to be today.

There are a lot of things that made the first movie a success and the subsequent movies amazing, one of them being the amazing performance of Campbell as Ash. It’s clear in the first movie that Campbell had very little experience as an actor, which has thankfully improved which led to the lovable character we all adore from the franchise today. But does that make The Evil Dead a bad movie? Obviously it doesn’t.

With all its flaws, why has The Evil Dead stood the test of time, nearly four decades down the line? It’s not particularly ‘smart’ in the movie sense. I don’t see any major social critique on anything going on (at least from what I picked up). Perhaps the movie is simply honest. The Evil Dead knows the initial audience who comes to the movies to see it for themselves back in 1981. It was exciting, honest in what it did and hilariously entertaining.

If you haven’t watched The Evil Dead yet, I highly recommend that you do so and experience all of Raimi’s ‘Raimi-ness’ that his fans are all crazy about. Get ready for blood, gore, and plenty of good ‘ole American cheese as Ash fights his way to sunrise.

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage