After disappointing fans and critics alike with the dreadfully dull “Spider-Man 3” in 2007, Sam Raimi has revisited his roots in the horror genre with the film “Drag Me To Hell’, which will be released on May 29th. Horror enthusiasts have been anxiously awaiting Raimi’s return to the genre for close to two decades now; his revered ‘Evil Dead’ movies are considered some of the most entertaining and outrageous films ever made. These films have been fan favorites for almost three decades now, and over the years they have collected legions of loyal fanatics (‘Deadites’).
Each installment in the ‘Evil Dead’ trilogy holds its own unique charm and appeal, with subject matter ranging from bloody carnage to quirky, slapstick hilarity. In order to truly understand the endearing appeal of these bizarre films, one must examine them not as a whole, but as individuals, as each one represents a separate example of Sam Raimi’s undeniable talent to engage, entertain, and frighten audiences all over the world.
THE EVIL DEAD (1981)
This cult-classic gore fest was a fantastic directorial debut for Sam Raimi, who produced the film on a shoe-string budget and, against all odds, managed to secure his position as one of the most recognizable and revered filmmakers in the horror genre.
The Evil Dead stars Raimi’s childhood friend and future b-movie superstar Bruce Campbell as Ash, who travels into the woods with a group of friends to vacation in a dilapidated cabin. Soon enough, they resurrect an evil demon hell-bent on possessing the teens one-by-one, until it’s up to Ash to save the day.
The campy, low-budget special effects may very well be the highlight of this delightfully gory film, in fact, the disgustingly awesome and (unintentionally?) hilarious stop-motion disintegration scene merit at least one viewing. Also, Raimi’s innovative camera techniques are extremely impressive for such a low-budget project, and were hugely influential to independent horror film-makers who followed in his footsteps.
Twenty-eight years after its initial release, ‘The Evil Dead’ continues to inspire a whole new generation of independent film-makers and horror fans.
EVIL DEAD 2 (1987)
Six years after the original Evil Dead’s success, Sam Raimi and company returned to produce ‘Evil Dead 2’, a film many fans and critics consider to be the highlight of the entire trilogy. Evil Dead 2 is virtually incomparable to the first; while the original was a straight, no-nonsense horror film, Evil Dead 2 was a screwball comedy/horror hybrid, a film which aimed for laughs as opposed to terror.
Bruce Campbell reprises his role as Ash, who inexplicably returns to the haunted cabin with a new girlfriend in tow. Once again, Ash summons the ancient evil spirit through the necronomicon, who terrorizes him with outrageous monsters, headless zombies, laughing furniture, and an endless ocean of green, black, and red blood.
By this time, Sam Raimi had clearly come into his own as a director, implementing his now-instantly recognizable and innovative camera techniques such as the ‘ram-o-cam’ and the POV tracking shot, which chases Ash through the entire cabin. Bruce Campbell also makes a noticeable improvement, giving Ash a new, heroic, screwball personality, one which would make him a horror icon for years to come.
Evil Dead 2 is a dramatic improvement upon the first one, and is easily one of the most entertaining movies one could see. Horror fan or not, it is sure to please anybody willing to have a bloody good time.
ARMY OF DARKNESS (1992)
Army Of Darkness is another radical departure from the series, while the second was a mixture between horror and comedy; “Army” is more of an action comedy, with the horror influence playing a noticeably smaller role than in the previous installments.
Picking up where Evil Dead 2 left off, Ash finds himself stranded in medieval times, battling hordes of bizarre monsters and an army of violent skeletons, all the while trying to get back to his job at S-Mart.
Bruce Campbell steals the show as Ash, who’s arrogant and incompetent attitude provides an endless onslaught of memorable lines and classic scenes of hilarity. Sam Raimi’s innovative camera techniques are also present, as is his obvious love for the slapstick antics of the Three Stooges.
Although completely different from the other two films, Army Of Darkness is a fine cap to the original series, as the future of a possible Evil Dead 4 looks grim.