The Evil Dead (1981) (Anchor Bay Blu-ray Review)

This is one reason why I still love Anchor Bay..

The Evil Dead (1981)
Directed By: Sam Raimi (Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, and um..Spider-Man) 

The Prologue
I know what you must be thinking, “Didn’t Chuck already cover all the Evil Dead films?”. And yes, I did review them all once upon a time. But the thing is, with a franchise who’s films have had a very big history of producing double dips in the DVD department, what would it matter if we now double dip in honor of the blu-rays? And in doing so, we kick it off with the one that stared it all, the 1981 horror classic, The Evil Dead! Which was placed on blu-ray for it’s debut from Anchor Bay, who showed us that while they do a lot of different things now, they haven’t forgotten where they came from. And I won’t even try to lie, I was a little worried about just how this movie would look in HD, seeing as how it was never one you’d consider anything short of a grimy, bloody, and brutal film in both nature and look. But none the less here we are, with what I assume may be only the first in a line of blu-rays for The Evil Dead. But hey, maybe I’m just being a tad bit too optimistic? If this is the only one ever to be released, I think we’d all still be very happy.

The Movie
Five friends go up to a cabin in the woods where they find unspeakable evil lurking in the forest. They find the Necronomicon and the taped translation of the text. Once the tape is played, the evil is released. One by one, the teens are possessed. With only one remaining, it is up to him to survive the night and battle the evil dead. We’ve seen it on VHS, we’ve seen it on multipal DVD releases, and now thanks to Anchor Bay, we have it in HD on blu-ray!

A movie where five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they mistakenly release flesh-possessing demons with the aid of a “Book of the Dead” might sound like your typical horror film by today’s standards but trust me the end results of this film is anything but typical. What we get with The Evil Dead is a rare case of a film from yesterday still holding up and even topping tons of films made today. Known for the gore and tree raping that takes place in this film The Evil Dead also gave us a future horror ICON in Bruce Campbell, playing the role he would go on to become a horror legend with, Ash.

But here’s the thing, if you have never seen The Evil Dead but have seen Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness you may come into this one for the first time looking for a horror comedy in the vein of it’s sequels..well let me tell you..that’s NOT what you get with this film. Ash isn’t even the macho hero we’ve come to love yet. In this film we get Ash (At times called Ashley by his sister) before his machismo..shall we say..drops? He also has a uni-brow but we don’t want to get into that do we? Ash at time acts like a down right wussy as the horror unleashes all around him and he watches friend by friend become taken over by the evilness the book unleashes and thus lead to he himself being forced to dismantle, and dismember them. But if nothing else, it shows you from a character standpoint how Ash would become the ass kicker he would later become.

The movie over-all has that dirty, grimy feel that many outrageously violent or moral teasing films like I Spit On Your Grave, or The Last House On The Left has which adds to the tone and feel for the movie. But in this case it’s more of a over dose on violence rather than an over dose on the themes that the other films I’ve mentioned here has, although the trees coming to life and raping a lady could possibly bring up the question if this movie shouldn’t be tossed in the same group with those. A question that I will let you all decide with a poll.  But in the end this film is without question a classic, with plenty of re-watch value. There was a time when I’d say this film would be listed right behind Evil Dead 2 in my ranking of the trilogy, but now I’m going to have to admit I like this one WAY more than the others.

The Conclusion
The Evil Dead debuted on blu-ray from Anchor Bay with two versions of the film found on one disc: a 1.37:1-framed transfer that approximates the picture’s original aspect ratio, and a 1.85:1. At the end of the day however, that’s not THAT big of a deal because both look great all things considered. It’s an old film, it’s going to always have a very old look to it, but still we do have details here. Perhaps things aren’t as vivid as some might like, but I wasn’t disappointed at all. I mean come on now, this was a 16mm film, right? Give it a break! Anyone who loved this franchise will without question love this. Plus, let’s not forget you get a new audio commentary.

The Rating (8.5/10)