Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1982) is one of the most inventive and energetic horror movies of the last 40 years. Released during a period in which the stalk-and-slash cycle had blunted the horror genre of much of its creative edge, Raimi’s debut feature transcends its small budget and limited resources to deliver a phantasmagoric roller-coaster ride, a wildly absurd and surreal assault on the senses. Still original enough to stand on its own and be considered as a genre classic, this book will explain its long-lasting appeal and impact.
After detailing the unique circumstances of its origin, Lloyd Haynes goes on to analyse key aspects of the film’s abiding success. The Evil Dead is one of a number of horror films which locate their terrors in a single setting and limited time frame. Haynes argues that it creates a ‘bad dream’ effect in which the nightmare is never-ending and increasingly horrific, and how the cabin-in-the-woods location is also a fine example of the ‘bad place’ motif which stretches back to the Gothic novels of the 18th century. The book goes on to consider what character traits Ash Williams, The Evil Dead’s ‘macho’ male hero, shares with Carol Clover’s ‘Final Girl’ model and how effective he is as a ‘Final Guy’. Finally, it explores the critical approaches to the film, in particular its notorious reputation in Britain as a ‘video nasty’.