Quantcast

Evil Dead (Blu-ray Review)

Thirty one years after principal photography first rolled on The Evil Dead and about twenty eight or twenty nine years since it first hit theaters and home video, The Evil Dead have seen the light of day on Blu-ray!  Anchor Bay has finally released one of the most pivotal films in the horror genre ever made on the high definition format.  How did the results stack up to scrutiny?  Read and find out!

Film 

Five friends set their sights on spending a wonderful weekend in the woods in a remote cabin out in the middle of nowhere.  Of course, the cabin and the woods hide a terrible secret.  The gang find a grotesque looking book and a tape recorder that tell them what the book is about.  It’s a book about ancient spells, witchcraft, possessions, etc…  As the tape recorder plays on while the kids look through the book, the voice in the recorder unwittingly begins to speak some of the spells.  This in turn wakes the demon forces that were lying dormant in the woods and unleash hell upon them.

Having not seen Evil Dead in years (and loving it back then) I was stoked to finally watch this on blu-ray in all its high-def glory.  At three and a half stars, I’m being extremely generous with the film review itself.  I’m fully aware of the lore and beyond cult status that this franchise (being a major fan of Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness) but this was just barely passable, in my opinion.  I was much more fascinated by the story behind the film than the film.

As was prefaced in the beginning of the article, principle photography commenced in 1979 and would shoot for 1.5 years before being theatrically released.  It was also budgeted at $350,000.  That kind of raised an eyebrow.  At the tail end of the 1970’s, that would have been a lot of money.  Where did it go?  Granted, it shot for over a year but still.

The locations were awesome and so was the cabin, but the special make-up effects were really awful.  The Book of Dead (for being drawn up in BLOOD) is done in various color pencils.  I even saw a sheet of tracing paper in there.  I do give props to the actors and filmmakers for going all out and throwing it all up on the screen.  It could be said that Evil Dead was a labor of love, but that would depend on who you ask.  It barely played in any mainstream theaters in the U.S. and was heavily censored throughout Europe.

Evil Dead is an extremely acquired taste.  The hardcore following will love this no matter what, but if you’re a newbie I would tread lightly.

Video

Evil Dead is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  This review was of the widescreen version.  I’m neutral on the video.  It can and will look bad in certain shots, but then other shots will look amazing.  Again, it’s all about consistency and inconsistency.  The opening is grainy as hell, then about 20 minutes in it gets really soft and almost blurry-details are gone.  Then it gets clear again.  I will say that this is the best the film has ever looked.  I don’t even want to think about what the multiple DVD releases look like now.  *gets the shakes* Consider the source.

Audio 

Evil Dead is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  Sure, the effects may be dated, but this soundtrack will give you a nice stern kick to the crotch if you’re not careful. Evil Dead sounds great and creepy.  I would not want to be running around in those woods!  The bass and surrounds are aggressive without being a distraction, and the screams of agony are clean and crisp with very minimal distortion due to the age of the audio track.

Special Features 

Anchor Bay ported over most of the special features from their most recent DVD edition over to this set.  Literally.  The special features are presented in a DVD in SD quality.  That’s such a peeve.  It gets a good review for the features, because they clock in at over three hours and are all very entertaining.  One thing that makes me cringe is when fanboys ask some of the dumbest questions ever.  You deserve a sarcastic response from the panel.  There are plenty of panel interviews, presentations, at many of the conventions.  The cast is present and they all seem to be having fun hanging out with each other.

Disc One

  • All-New Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Sam Raimi, Producer Robert Tapert and Star Bruce Campbell

Limited Edition Bonus DVD

  • One By One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead
  • The Evil Dead: Treasures From The Cutting Room Floor
  • Discovering The Evil Dead
  • Unconventional
  • At The Drive-In
  • Reunion Panel
  • Make-Up Test
  • The Ladies of The Evil Dead Meet Bruce Campbell
  • Book Of The Dead: The Other Pages
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots

Final Thoughts 

Though my initial thoughts of the film may come off as conflicted, one thing I can say without holding back is that The Evil Dead has balls!  Plain and simple.  I dig when films say “screw it” and just go for it, budget be damned! These are the films that stand the test of time.  They come from the heart (literally) and end up being loved by untold legions.  Considering production began 30+ years ago on what some may call one of the most influential horror films of all time, it’s an event unto itself to finally experience The Evil Dead in all its high-def guts and glory!

*

Bring home The Evil Dead on  Blu-ray!

*

Share

Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

7 Responses to “Evil Dead (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    I have to say…you make me want to see this one. I’m actually ashamed to admit that I never watched this before. I know how awful that must sound in the movie community. But after loving Sam’s DRAG ME TO HELL, I have a new found quench to want to catch this cult classic some day…on the Blu-ray format, but of course 🙂

  2. Gerard Iribe

    It’s worth a peep. Remember, 1979 is when they started shooting.

    I hated Drag Me To Hell, BTW.

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    @Brian – Time to get on that Raimi train. The more people involved the better, it’s lots of fun with a crowd.

    @Gerard – Hated Drag Me to Hell, but loved Mirrors…ok.

    Excited for this Blu-Ray, I’ll be putting the disk inside my awesome Book of the Dead DVD Case.

  4. Brian White

    I need to throw out a special thanks to http://www.highdefdiscnews.com/ and http://www.doblu.com/ for the use of the above very hard to find EVIL DEAD screenshots found within this review. Thanks guys!

  5. Chris B.

    @Gerard and Aaron – You know, I actually didn’t mind Drag me to Hell. The plot was a bit hard to swallow at times, but just seeing the protagonist get beat up every scene made it an interesting first watch at least.

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    Chris, make no mistake, I love Drag Me To Hell, one of my favs of 09. Classic Raimi horror, even with the PG-13 rating. Both hilarious and scary, with the perfect amount of cheesiness.

  7. Unseen Simon

    Love the Evil Dead. Some of the best films are made be people who have their balls to the wall and just want to do it. I am a writer and Filmmaker myself and know how hard this can be.

    Now, DRAG ME TO HELL…Look, my biggest problem with this movie, much like Argento and Peter Jackson’s later careers. Is that Director’s begin to dip back into their back catalogue for ideas. The thing that made them in the first place. But if you are a die hard fan of that original idea that blew you away (Speaking from a fans perspective.) in the first place, all you begin to see are cliches and derivatives there of. Unfortunately, DRAG ME TO HELL had me wincing and bored to Hell. It is a solid thrill ride….But, Hey…I’d rather take the EVIL DEAD one more time around the course. At least it’s from a place of out and out honesty and made out of necessity with unparalleled (In Raimi’s career) creativity. But I’d rather watch DRAG ME TO HELL over the SPIDERMAN atrocities any day.