The Evil Dead (also known as Evil Dead, The Book of the Dead, Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead and The Evil Dead: The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror) is a 1981 cult classic horror film written and directed by Sam Raimi, and starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss and Betsy Baker. The film depicts five college students and their vacation in an isolated cabin in the woods, which turns into a nightmare when they find an audiotape that is a key to unlocking evil spirits.
The film was extremely controversial for its graphic violence and gore, being initially turned down by almost all U.S. distributors, until a European company picked it up. It finally premiered on October 15, 1981. Although its budget was just $375,000, it was a moderate success at the box office, grossing a total of $2,400,000 in the U.S. upon its initial release.  Despite getting mixed reviews by critics at the time, it is now widely accepted as a classic of the horror genre and has a dedicated worldwide cult following. The film spawned two sequels, Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn and Army of Darkness.
The film was submitted for a rating in 1994, and the MPAA classified it with an NC-17. When Elite Entertainment released the film on DVD in 1999 they retained the NC-17. Anchor Bay Entertainment has since acquired the DVD rights to the film, and their subsequent releases have surrendered the rating to allow them to release the film unrated.
Five Michigan State University students venture into the hills to spend a weekend in an isolated cabin. There they find the Book of the Dead (a Babylonian and Sumerian text, unrelated to the Egyptian Book of the Dead), otherwise known as the Morturom Demonto.
While searching the basement of the cabin, the students find and play a tape recording of demonic incantations from the book, unwittingly resurrecting slumbering demons that thirst for revenge. The characters are then possessed one by one, beginning with Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) after she is brutally raped by the evil force (using the nearby trees) in sequences of intense, bloody violence and horrifying voice-overs. Cheryl makes it home to the cabin but nobody believes her. Her brother Ash (Bruce Campbell) then decides to drive her into town where she can stay the night. They discover that the only road bridge is completely destroyed and the supports are bent into the shape of a hand. Soon after, Cheryl becomes a demon and stabs Linda (Betsy Baker) in the ankle with a pencil. They lock her in the cellar, but soon after Shelly (Theresa Tilly) becomes possessed and attacks Scotty (Richard DeManincor) who dismembers her with an axe. They wrap the dismembered body-parts in a blanket and bury them, after which Scotty leaves to find a trail out of the woods.
Ash goes to check on Linda, but finds her to be possessed also. Scotty returns, but is mutilated by trees. Before losing consciousness he tells Ash there is a trail in the woods. After Linda tricks Ash by returning to (seemingly) normal, Ash drags her outside. He goes back to check on Scotty, who dies. Linda later returns and tries to stab Ash, but she falls on the dagger. Ash drags her outside to cut her up with a chainsaw, but he simply buries her instead. She rises from the grave and Ash beheads her with a shovel. The head soon comes back to life and taunts him, and the body gets up to chase Ash back to the cabin. He returns to find the cellar door flown open. Cheryl jumps at the window and tries to break in. Ash shoots her, but she doesn't die. Ash then proceeds to barricade both the front and back doors. He runs back into the cellar to find a box of shotgun shells and experiences a strange series of events including the cellar filling with blood and hearing things in his mind. Cheryl tries to attack Ash through the door, but he shoots her and then slides a bookshelf in front of the door. Scotty's dead body suddenly animates and he and Cheryl come at Ash again. Suddenly they begin to scream, and smoke starts to rise from their bodies. Ash notices that The Book of the Dead has fallen into the fireplace. He puts it directly into the flames and the demons stop and begin to rot away as dawn breaks. Ash is the only survivor. He heads outside and stands there for a while, thinking he has survived the ordeal; but the evil "force" runs him down. The screen goes black as Ash turns around with a look of terror on his face as the Evil catches him.
- The Evil Dead at Wikipedia
- The Evil Dead at All Movie Guide (AMG)
- The Evil Dead at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB)
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