The Evil Dead


(1982) ★★★

Film4: Wednesday 19 August, 12.40am

Bruce Campbell and friends pay a hefty price for renting a cheap cabin in the woods after recitations from a Book of the Dead resurrect demons. Once outlawed as a ‘video nasty’, Sam Raimi’s cult horror show is a low-budget shocker shot with style and invention. The humour is ghoulish, the blood-and-guts gore goofily gloopy. The acting’s nothing to crow about, but the camerawork is genuinely impressive and Raimi went on to become a film-maker both stylish (Darkman, A Simple Plan) and successful (the Spider-Man franchise before the ‘Amazing’ reboots). Film4’s Frightfest has the 2013 Evil Dead, Thursday at 11.10pm. This demonically straightfaced revision of Raimi’s frightfully funny tree-hugger comes with ‘new, improved’ drug detox backstory. Not to mention added power tools and Omen-ous music. So near, yet so far-fetched. The only thing that seems the same as Raimi’s film is the scruffy Michigan State sweatshirt worn by one of the ladies. Eat my chainsaw! Best stick with Raimi’s own 1987 sequel Evil Dead II (Friday at 12.45am), with Bruce Campbell and a couple of couples tormented by more demons at the backwoods cabin. The disbelieving Campbell would rather hack off his own right hand than spend any more time with them. So he does. A refinement of his cult debut, Raimi’s graphic comic horror is not substantially different from but superior to the original, in the same way as George Miller’s The Road Warrior is to Mad Max. The gruesome effects are clever, startling and deliberately disgusting. Campbell plays it straight with a feasibly manic gusto and Raimi’s style has that unsettling urgency that would explode in Darkman.

Certificate: 18
Duration: 86min

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