Evil Dead: An Iconic Horror Film

Jake Harvey, Writer

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The Evil Dead, a 1981 American supernatural horror film produced and directed by Sam Raimi and executive produced by Raimi and Bruce Campbell, stars Ellen Sandweiss and Betsy Baker.

Ashley “Ash” Williams, played by Hollywood star Bruce Campbell, and his girlfriend and three friends hike into the woods to a cabin for a fun night away. There they find an old book, the Necronomicon, whose text reawakens the dead when read aloud. The friends inadvertently release a flood of evil and must fight for their lives or turn into one of the so called “deadites”. Ash watches his friends turn into the creatures and must make a difficult decision before daybreak to save his own life in this the first of Sam Raimi’s trilogy.

Raimi and the cast produced the short film Within the Woods as a prototype to build interest of potential investors, which secured Raimi $90,000 to produce The Evil Dead. The film took place in a remote cabin located in Morristown, Tennessee, in a difficult filming process that proved extremely uncomfortable for the cast and crew.

The low-budget horror film attracted the interest of producer Irvin Shapiro, who helped screen the film at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. Horror author Stephen King gave a rave review of the film, which helped convince New Line Cinema to serve as its distributor. Though a modest commercial success in the United States, grossing $2.4 million, it turned up a bigger success internationally, earning more than $27 million for a worldwide gross income of $29.4 million.

The film has spawned a media franchise, beginning with two sequels written and directed by Raimi, The Evil Dead II(1987), and Army of Darkness(1992), as well as video games, comic books, and a television series. The film’s protagonist, Ash Williams(Bruce Campbell), vaulted as a cult icon. The fourth film, serving as a reboot, remake, and sequel, received the title “Evil Dead”, and Raimi co-produced it alongside Campbell and franchise producer Robert Tapert.

As with the other films, the follow-up television series Ash vs. Evil Dead, Sam and Ivan Raimi, with Campbell also produced The Evil Dead will remain an icon in horror film history, sparking new ideas for future films.

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