16 August 2004 | Manthorpe
What more can be said of Raimi's legendary cult-classic that hasn't already been beaten to death like a puss-oozing zombie that crosses paths with Ash? Possibly nothing, but I'll try.
Before Spiderman and before the countless spin-offs of this movie were made or even conceived, Raimi and friends decided to make a low budget zombie flick mainly for fun, and surprisingly it has become a masterpiece of shock and horror. Possibly a perfect example of how to make an entertaining film on a shoe-string budget, The Evil Dead delivers what it promises, the ultimate in grueling horror. Even with it's mild budget and sometimes shaky acting, TED shocks and spooks the audience through chilling atmosphere and some of the most violent effects ever put on film. Those who are squeamish need not apply. As a matter of fact, just run for your girly life.
There are several reasons this film succeeds. First, Raimi's camera work is truly masterful. By using fast camera work and aggressive shots, Raimi has created an eerie world that is sometimes hard to look at but too entertaining to turn away from. His style from behind the camera is absolutely unmistakable. This is perfectly exemplified in the beginning of the film, where the camera alone creates enough atmosphere to leave you biting your nails in suspense of what's to come. You feel at any moment someone is going to get their neck chomped on by some zombie hiding just out of view. One of the most impressive openings I can think of, perfection in pacing and atmosphere. It gets even better once the action starts. Some shots hold for a seeming eternity, and part of you wishes for it to stop for it's unrestrained gore and violence...but the other part of you is getting a sick kick out of it. One of the most impressive shots is where the darkness from the trees begins to chase people, knocking any tree or obstacle down that happens to be in it's way. Truly magnificent technique, however they did it.
TED also succeeds because it's self-aware of the fact that it's a simple zombie movie and never takes itself too seriously, and doesn't expect the audience to do so either. It's meant to be campy, cheesy, revolting and chilling at the same time. There are moments in the film where it seems to be making fun of itself and the genre in general. For this fact alone, one cannot hold certain things against it such as sometimes questionable acting from the supporting cast and sometimes the downright implausibility of certain situations. If you can accept this and you're not put off by mannequin ultra-violence, then you should find yourself on the supporter's side of the fence. I think some don't like it because it can be ridiculous and cheesy in parts, although it was meant to be. Even with the fact that it's sometimes cheesy, there are some downright chilling moments in this film that most horror films nowadays cannot begin to muster. Case in point, the zombie screaming from the cellar door. The zombie growls and howls themselves are enough to send shivers up one's spine. And let's not forget the unforgettable tree love scene, ridiculous and hilarious simultaneously.
Last but certainly not least: Bruce Campbell as Ash, the badass of all zombie films. Campbell is Ash, period, and always will be.
In my opinion, this is by far the best of the trilogy, and although there could have been more of the chainsaw, this is the definitive zombie film and probably always will be. I feel it succeeds over it's sequels due to it's increased violence and lack of humor in comparison. It's blood, gore, camera work, and shock factor are still formidable even today and are what make this such a cult classic. If you've ever liked any horror film, this is an absolute must-see.
Love or hate it, there it is.