(On VHS, September 1999) This obviously isn’t for everyone, with its ultra-low budget, shaky acting, primitive special effects, heavy-handed misogynism and over-the-top gore. For usual moviegoers, it oscillates between bore and gross-out. For horror fans, however, this film pretty much ranks up there with the greatest works of the genre. Though it’s not as sophisticated, funny or slick as its two latter sequels, The Evil Dead already exhibits Sam Raimi’s devilishly clever direction, darkly funny atmosphere and plain old fun of the follow-ups. Do yourself a favor: rent all three, invite a bunch of friends and have a grand good time.
(Second viewing, On DVD, August 2006) What one tends to forget in the shadow of this film’s sequels is that The Evil Dead series started out a pure cheap horror without much in terms of comedy. Neither is Bruce Campbell all that impressive in this first outing. (The familiar “Ash” persona would fully emerge only during the second film.) It, fortunately enough, still works relatively well today, but there isn’t much in there to keep audiences coming back. Coming out of nowhere, it’s still an impressive effort. As a prelude to what’s to come, well, it’s a bit bare-bones. The DVD contains an amusing audio commentary by the producers that sheds some light on the film’s ultra-low-budget origins.