In the fall of 1979, Sam Raimi and his merry band headed into the woods of rural Tennessee to make a movie. They emerged with a roller coaster of a film packed with shocks, gore, and wild humor, a film that remains a benchmark for the genre. Ash (cult favorite Bruce Campbell) and four friends arrive at a backwoods cabin for a vacation, where they find a tape recorder containing incantations from an ancient book of the dead. When they play the tape, evil forces are unleashed, and one by one the friends are possessed. Wouldn’t you know it, the only way to kill a “deadite” is by total bodily dismemberment, and soon the blood starts to fly. Raimi injects tremendous energy into this simple plot, using the claustrophobic set, disorienting camera angles, and even the graininess of the film stock itself to create an atmosphere of dread, punctuated by a relentless series of jump-out-of-your-seat shocks. The Evil Dead lacks the more highly developed sense of the absurd that distinguish later entries in the series–Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness–but it is still much more than a gore movie. It marks the appearance of one of the most original and visually exciting directors of his generation, and it stands as a monument to the triumph of imagination over budget.

Studio: Lionsgate
Year: 1981
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Run time: 85 minutes
Rating: NR

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Disc Spec: 1 BD50
Region: A

 

In the fall of 1979, Sam Raimi and his merry band headed into the woods of rural Tennessee to make a movie. They emerged with a roller coaster of a film packed with shocks, gore, and wild humor, a film that remains a benchmark for the genre. Ash and four friends arrive at a backwoods cabin for a vacation, where they find a tape recorder containing incantations from an ancient book of the dead. When they play the tape, evil forces are unleashed, and one by one the friends are possessed. Wouldn’t you know it, the only way to kill a “deadite” is by total bodily dismemberment, and soon the blood starts to fly. Raimi injects tremendous energy into this simple plot, using the claustrophobic set, disorienting camera angles, and even the graininess of the film stock itself to create an atmosphere of dread, punctuated by a relentless series of jump-out-of-your-seat shocks. The Evil Dead lacks the more highly developed sense of the absurd that distinguish later entries in the series–Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness–but it is still much more than a gore movie. It marks the appearance of one of the most original and visually exciting directors of his generation, and it stands as a monument to the triumph of imagination over budget.

“The Evil Dead” is an innovative, ground-breaking horror classic that has developed a cult following. Director Sam Raimi was highly influenced by other well established horror megahits such as “The Exorcist,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “Night of the Living Dead.” A young Bruce Campbell is college student Ash; him and his friends rent a secluded cabin in the mountains. (“The Evil Dead” was filmed mostly in the backwoods of Morristown, near Knoxville, Tennessee.) Demonic forces inhabit these woods. After discovering the Book of the Dead, the friends begin turning into demon possessed zombies. There is levitation and green vomit spewing as in the “Exorcist.” They have learned that only bodily dismemberment can destroy a demon. Numerous sharp farm implements hang from the cabin’s ceiling. Ash uses a chainsaw to slice up one of his friends. Hence, the similarity to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

It has a tremendous amount of gore with some of it being way too over the top. It is this excessive gore that kept it from gaining the popularity that was achieved by “Halloween” – another low-budget horror classic. “Evil Dead” is highly recommended for fans of demon and zombie films, as Raimi took both marrying them into one concept. It is interesting to learn how this movie was finally released after five years of production and at a miniscule cost of $375,000.
Movie Content: 10/10

Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.66:1/1.33:1 aspect ratio. Evil Dead has been released on DVD and Blu-ray so many times, that I can’t even count on both sets of hands the number of releases. For one reason or another Anchor Bay just kept releasing the trilogy in many variations on DVD over the years which got to a point of being ridiculous. For those wondering if they should be upgrading their DVD and Blu-ray set(s), this is probably the best version of the film from a video standpoint by a tad bit. The image still looks dull and murkey all around, but Anchor Bay engineers did an excellent job cleaning up the film. When I mean cleaning up, removal of artifacts, white specs, and even some grain which was ultra heavy in the past DVD releases. If you are wondering about the grain, it is still present, but it looks much smoother this time and not a hinderance. There are some scenes which have some passable detail and other scenes where details are just terrible looking with out of focus shots. These deficiencies are understandable as the film was shot on a low budget with not so high end video equipment. Overall, I am very pleased with this transfer and is the best this film has ever looked on home video without losing its original integrity. As for the HDR, that does help quite a bit to improve the colors and brightness of the picture. It helps give this film that needed little pop that it was missing all these years.
Video Quality: 9/10

The audio mix is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless track. I found the audio mix to be pretty good when brought over to DTS-HD MA, even though it is mostly front and center. Whenever there is sound effects you do get some decent sound out of the rears. AB engineers did a good job in trying to fill most of the soundfield with the special effects even though they were working with a low budget film. Dialogue through the center channel was nice and clean without any issues.
Audio Quality: 8.5/10

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary Writer/Director Sam Raimi, Producer Robert Tapert, and Bruce Campbell

Special Features: 1/10

Final Thoughts

If you are a fan of the Evil Dead franchise, you owe it to yourself to pickup the 4K UHD version with a slight updated visual and audio. It is disappointing that the special features were not all placed on the 4K UHD.
Overall Rating: 8/10