Before the Boomstick, there was Ash Williams, his friends, a remote cabin...and THE EVIL DEAD! Check out our review of the new 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack!
A group of friends take a weekend getaway to a remote cabin, only to find an ancient book that unleashes demons that torment them all. Stars Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Sarah York, and Hal Delrich.
Written and directed by Sam Raimi
The Evil Dead elevated schlock horror to an art form when it was released in 1981, combining inventive visuals with gruesome thrills unlike anything the genre had seen previously.
Old-school horror fans understand the importance of The Evil Dead in the evolution of horror films, but uninitiated millennials may only see YouTube clips of what appears to be cheesy makeup and low budget sets and think the film isn’t worth their time. The release of The Evil Dead 4K Ultra HD disc is the perfect opportunity to introduce these uncivilized youngsters (who think Eli Roth invented horror) to a classic movie that has been scaring us for over 35 years.
Filmed on a shoestring budget on an unconventional schedule, part of the appreciation for The Evil Dead comes with knowing the backstory and understanding all of the oddities about the film. Even if you don’t know the history, however, the film will still win you over. In telling a story of five friends fighting off demon possession in a remote cabin, Sam Raimi showed his prowess for visionary storytelling that would see its full potential almost 20 years later in the Spider-Man film series.
Bruce Campbell showed his star potential in his first leading role as Ash, creating a character he elevated to iconic status in Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, culminating this year in the final season of the Starz series “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”
The supporting cast is surprisingly good, considering most had limited professional acting experience. Ellen Sandweiss is great as Cheryl, Ash’s sister, who spends most of the movie taunting the cast (and the audience) from a cellar. Betsy Baker is equally good as Ash’s girlfriend, who is memorably creepy once she is possessed.
One can argue that the blood and gore have lost their shock value over time, as horror films become more realistic in their violence, but The Evil Dead still manages to be unnerving and genuinely frightening, so many years later. That is a credit not only to the actors, who pull you into the horror convincingly, but to Sam Raimi’s inspired directing. His creative approach makes The Evil Dead so much more than blood and guts. The off-kilter camera work and relentless pace stand the test of time, and stand head-and-shoulders above today’s muted, PG-13 horror fare.
The Evil Dead is an undisputed horror classic, even with its faults and missteps taken into account. Beyond the nostalgia and underneath the gallons of fake blood is an undeniable charm and entertaining center, earning its place among the great horror films of all time.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The Evil Dead was originally shot on 16mm film, so the source material for a 4K transfer isn’t ideal. Even with a new transfer, the video exhibits heavy grain, although the detail is far better than I was expecting.
The 4K disc offers Dolby Vision, so if you have a 4K player and television that supports the feature, the video will automatically adjust to the best rendering possible, replicating a scene’s color and brightness exactly as the creators intended. Dolby Vision is a marked improvement over HDR10, the video standard used for most 4K TVs, and ensures you see the film the way the director intended. Since my hardware supports Dolby Vision, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the film looked great, even with the suspect source material and age involved.
The audio is fantastic, a remastered 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that makes good use of the original sound mix.
Amazingly, there is only a single major bonus feature included on the disc: an audio commentary. This is a true disappointment, as a landmark horror film like The Evil Dead deserves to have as much supporting material as possible for the fans.
The bonus features included on the disc are as follows:
Audio Commentary. Writer/director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert, and star Bruce Campbell provide a fantastic commentary, recorded in December of 2009. The trio, who are long-time friends, chat like they are sitting around a dinner table and reminiscing. Bruce Campbell does a great job keeping the conversation going, by asking the questions fans would want to hear.
Digital Copy. A code for a digital copy of the film, viewable on services including VUDU and FandangoNow, is included. It should be noted that, although the code is from a 4K set, it may not redeem a 4K digital version of the film. This appears to be due to licensing issues with the video services and Lionsgate movie codes. VUDU does not appear to redeem the code in 4K (only HD), but FandangoNow does.
Lionsgate has stated that codes will eventually upgrade to a 4K version once the video service makes one available. If having the digital copy in 4K is important to you, confirm that the code will provide a 4K version before redeeming it.
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Rating: Not rated
Running Time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby True HD, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
Special Features: Digital copy
Audio Commentary: With director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert, and actor Bruce Campbell