The Evil Dead
This weekend I finally got round to watching Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult horror classic The Evil Dead and oh boy, it is absolutely deserving of it’s mythical status. I wish I could have watched it back in its release year so I had a better context for it, both in terms of tone and effects, but I still adored it.
It is ridiculous, totally over-the-top in a way that is archetypal of classic horror films (this film obviously playing a big part in cementing the archetypes of its era), unapologetic in using violence as a way to generate a reaction from its audience. There is no subtelty to it, and its wholehearted unashamedness is largely what makes it so good. The peculiar camerawork (the camera never appears to be parallel to the ground in any of the shots) is a big part of what makes certain scenes genuinely unnerving, but the tension is all but released when the demons themselves are actually displayed on screen. The bit with the tree (if you’ve seen the film then you know which bit I mean) certainly seems a good way beyond poor taste given an extra 40 years of social context, and frankly it’s hard to see how it was acceptable, let alone advisable, back then, which did mar the film overall for me a little.
Despite this, the film does an excellent job of achieving its stated aims on a very small budget and with an impressive laundry list of production problems, and is deserving of its cultural relevance and impressive legacy. A must watch for any goofy horror fans.