Cult classics are films that identify with a large group of people that span or transcend boundaries of society’s definition of normalcy. With The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II this was no different from the perceptional value of what a good idea for a horror film and the remakes spectacular take on horror humor. Sam Raimi’s vision and execution of 80’s horror film folklore montage and his revamped humor added elements of unconventional thought that united the humor of horror.
This vision was executed with a revamped script, similar but different approaches to both the costumes of the Evil Dead and the main characters country attire, and use of camera’s to capture an element of misdirection and confusion that captured both the essence of Ashley ‘Ash’ J. Williams, but the approach and patterns of the unknown. The Evil Dead was the first, traditional, attempt to develop a horror film based on mid-evil folklore that has towed the line of fact and fiction.
The approach to the use of the Necronomicon was well done as it has been embedded in fictional folklore since H. P. Lovecraft. Being revamped or recreated from perceptional ideas of satanic followers. Sam’s approach kept the idea of the book being a gate way to the other realm and how to summon and control evil spirits. Following the folklore of what a summoned spirit would do or create in a world not meant for the damned was interesting. His use of costumes ranged from the possessed rotting corpses of the previous inactive to the fresh vitality of the newly possessed. Making the wife of the recently dispatched professor as a hideous obese monstrosity with seemingly limited movement.
And the recently possessed girlfriend, Linda, a facially disfigured with heightened physical capabilities. Showed diversity in his approaches to the realistic time lines that would affect the possession of the living dead on this plane of existence. Probably the most important element of this film was the use of the unknown capabilities of the Evil Dead and their ability to inhabit the surrounding environment and interact with it. Probably one of the most gruesome scenes of The Evil Dead was the Cheryl’s unfortunate misgiving with the possessed trees.
This is a culturally taboo action that instantaneously unifies an audiences’ anger and since of vengeful justice. And shows the extreme affect the evil dead would have on the environment and how it could use it to perpetrate acts of violence. The use of dead space in this movie was another accent on the use of the environment in which the evil dead used to hide within and use to its advantage. The director’s ability to use quick and slow rolling camera shots that bounded from point to point gave life to this dead space.
The flowing movement that he was able to capture by twisting and bounding from a far off point towards the cabin accented the desire of the dead to kill the living. The added chemistry of light and darkness between and in shots added to the use of dead space and sets. Using light during Cheryl’s’ run through the woods and during the approach of the evil dead and the fog created allowed for understanding of the basic concepts driving the scenes while maintaining an element of surprise. During cabin scenes the light helped accent the movement of between both the characters, spirits, and props.
These quick seamless movement from the distance to close interaction with the characters was accented with nail driving sounds of eerie movements and over accented sounds of Cabin’s aesthetics. The paring of sound and the coco clock of the cabin accented a since of misdirection by the spirits approach on the characters. The constant clatter of the spirits physical manifestation on the environment and cabin to create a sense of chaos gave a portrayal of ominous presence. This added to the overall display required to make The Evil Dead a horror film of its time.
When Evil Dead II came out not much had seemed to change from the original plot of the script from The Evil Dead. In fact it was a remake of the film in order to incorporate some of the original intentions that the director Sam Raimi had. His remake of the original actions given by the or for The Evil Dead gave life to what seemed to be another bookshelf movie. Adding the element of humor in to Evil Dead II is what gave its opportunity to break some of the traditional molds of contemporary horror films of that time. Cast and characters changed and their dynamic was modified to fit the new direction and was given new life.
While the original evil presence and possession folklore remained the same. The Necronomicon remained the center focus of the ominous evil spirts desire and an unseeingly hero to protect and guard the life of the living from the evil dead. The Necronomicon was given a more active role with its actions with the characters and the evil spirit manifestations. The approach to the costumes of the possessed changed and added a grittier look that showed more of the demonic aspect of the spirits. They used heightened noses with pultruding jaw lines to extreme stretches of physical limbs.
This portrayal or perceptional context added different elements to each of the spirits spiritual capabilities. But was in keeping with the overall intention of destroying humanity and controlling this plane of existence. Ash’s possession set new characteristic to the direction of the movie as it now showed that the many character was susceptible to evil. This portrayal of a dark and light side of Ash was accented by the physical manifestation of a severed limbs actions. How it interacted with both Ash and its environment developed plot requirements of surprise.
The use of the house layout was instrumental in not only the hands exodus, but also a good use of props. Props have always been essential to films on accenting characters of the individual characters or adding obsticle factors. In this case they were used as both. The difference in uses between The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II was the use of inanimate objects and their affects on the living either as an object that provided sound as annoyance or as an action piece meant to cause chaos. The Layout of the Cabin below shows location of most of the objects as well as how movement was restricted.
The space provided by the cabin itself meant that shots had to be precise in not only what they were capturing but in how they were executed. Actions scenes in the living room had to be edited to assist in capturing both the cellar’s captive and the movement of action in the living room’s locality to the actors and scene. The affects light allowed the viewer to not only see what they were seeing, but kept the presence of surprise for scene action points that kept the film moving forward. Other action scenes in the movie created props out of animate objects to accent the struggle of good vs. evil or Ash vs. the evil dead.
Parts in question are the battle of Ash vs. Linda and her head became a moving prop that continued action by speaking parts. The destruction of Lina’s head developed the emotional distress of Ash’s position and the extent of the evil dead’s possessive powers. Evil Dead II, like the first movie, allowed for the use of dead space. This was pretty much the same in both movies except for the battle scene between Ash and Linda. In which confusion was created by a multitude of different camera shots. In which captured various angles clouted with background and close up shots that gave a perspective of the hunter and /or hunted.
These various views were used throughout the film to help create misdirection of the approaching spirit and /or possessed. Even though most films of this nature and quality fall into the B-List, this film is the exception. Its iconic displays of portrayal on everyday items and the contextualization of humor, or back handed comments, allowed this film to use all elements to their full extent and added some new tricks to camera work that have since been used in different horror films. The Evil Dead Cult will remain active as this movie became timeless through the vision and effort of the actors portrayal.