Way back in 1981, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell turned a small cast and an even smaller budget into the modern independent horror masterpiece The Evil Dead. We salute the film and the filmmakers on the 35th anniversary of the theatrical premiere at the Redford theater in Detroit, Michigan!
Even though it premiered in the U.S. in October of 1981, The Evil Dead didn’t really take off until a few years later. Stephen King caught the European premiere at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival and loved it. King wrote a review of the film for Twilight Zone magazine and called it “the most ferociously original horror film of the year.” It was the publicity boost the film needed…the blurb that started it all.
Stephen King wasn’t done. In 1984, he penned the liner notes for The Evil Dead soundtrack. In it, he wrote:
The Evil Dead has the simple, stupid power of a goof campfire story – but its simplicity is not a side effect. It is something carefully crafted by Raimi, who is anything but stupid. Five college students on holiday, two boys and three girls, find a deserted cabin and an ancient book – a Lovecraftian Book of the Dead – that turns them into unkillable zombies, one by one, until only the film’s star, Bruce Campbell, is left. The only way to get rid of these zombies – the evil dead – is by dismemberment. Luckily a chainsaw is handy , and……..
And it doesn’t sound like much.
Well, neither does Hansel and Gretel nor Bluebeard in the hands of an untalented teller. What Raimi achieves in Evil Dead is a black rainbow of horror.”
It was a long road, but The Evil Dead ended up grossing $2,400,000 theatrically — nearly 8 times its production budget. The financial success of the film garnered Sam Raimi the studio support needed to make Evil Dead II in 1987. Army Of Darkness followed in 1992. Groovy!
The Evil Dead fan base is a rabid one. The Deadites are a staple at horror conventions and have been clamoring for Evil Dead IV for years. While a 3rd sequel never came to fruition, there has been no shortage of fan service. Deadites were treated to various toy lines, comic book series and, most recently, the STARZ original hit series Ash Vs. Evil Dead.
There’s no doubt The Evil Dead is a classic that’s still haunting us 35 years later. Happy 35th birthday!