Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, NY
About Ryan:

I'm a teacher and writer living in Warren, PA. I love obsessing over books, movies, music, and television, and occasionally writing about it. My first short story "Writer's Block" was published in The Big Book of Bizarro from Burning Bulb Publishing.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Don't Go In the Cellar: Revisiting The Evil Dead Trilogy (Part 1)

The Evil Dead holds a special place in the hearts (and nightmares) of most hardcore horror fans.  Perhaps the original "creepy cabin in the woods" template film, Sam Raimi's first low-budget gore-fest is so visceral and inventive (and also so indie) that it's hard to nail down exactly why people love it, and its subsequent continuations, with such rabid fervor. 

With the remake of the classic arriving in theaters this April, I thought it a good time to journey back to the Woods, enter the Cabin, trek down into that dank Cellar, and unleash some Hell, in an attempt to nail down why this franchise is so beloved (to me, at least).

Night #1: The Evil Dead (1981)

I found myself slightly giddy as I pulled my limited Book of the Dead edition of The Evil Dead off the shelf.  It had been so long since I'd seen Ash in action, especially in this original offering.  Would it still be magical?  Would I still jump and laugh in equal measure?

Hot damn, yes.

There's no need to discuss particulars.  If you're a devoted horror fan, you've seen this movie countless times.  What I will comment on is my sudden realization, about an hour into the movie (long after limbs have been chopped, chainsaws have been revved, and premature graves have been dug), of why this film endures and succeeds in spite of its shoe-string-budget detriments, and why I love it.

The reason is simple: there are no rules.  Oh, sure, there's more to it than that.  Raimi, even in this early flick, is an incredibly dynamic and talented director who has an unmistakable visual style.  The movie's also pretty damn creepy, despite its camp-factor, and the gore is gloriously over-the-top.  What makes the movie so much fun, once the tape is played and the Evil is awakened, is the fact that the monsters don't seem bound by any conventional horror movie rules.  

The Dead are determined to mess with our hero, Ash, in consistently new and inventive ways that are unpredictable and still fresh and surprising to this day.  In other words, things get batsh*t crazy for Ash, and by proxy, for the viewer.  

Sure there's the iconic imagery seared into horror aficionados'  brains: the aforementioned chainsaw; the levitating, off-kilter gesticulations of the early Deadites; and, most famously, the cellar dweller.  Still, at it's core, watching The Evil Dead is like having all the things we love about horror movies thrown into a blender, pulsed on high, and slopped out (usually all over Bruce Campbell's face) in an intoxicating concoction of cadaverous craziness. 

Up Next: Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

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