THE EVIL DEAD (1981)

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The Evil Dead title

THE EVIL DEAD (1981)

Bruce Campbell / Ellen Sandweiss / Richard DeManincor / Betsy Baker / Theresa Tilly / Ted Raimi  /  Special Effects  Sam Raimi  /  Art Dept.  Steve Frankel  /  Make-up  Tom Sullivan  /  Original music  Joseph LoDuca  /  Cinematography  Tim Philo  /  Editing  Edna Ruth Paul  / Produced by Bruce Campbell / Written & Directed by Sam Raimi

The Ultimate Experience In Grueling Terror

The Evil Dead is set to return in a glossy, big budget remake, but already the fans of the original ‘experience in grueling terror’, are shifting uncomfortably in their prospective cinema seats. Sam Raimi may have come under some joking stick from his fan purists for that trilogy of Spiderman popcorn movies, and the forthcoming shiny-mainstream ‘Oz, the Great and Powerful‘.. but allowing the desecration of his sacred Evil Dead series with a remake injected with oodles of cash, just seems downright wrong on all levels. The Raimi darkly comic style has indeed lent itself very well to projects beyond the Evil Dead of course, most notably with the Sharon Stone western ‘The Quick and the Dead‘ in 1995, ‘The Gift‘ with it’s reluctant Psychic Cate Blanchett, and most recently with the wonderfully creepy ‘Drag me to Hell‘ (with a deliciously quirky performance from Alison Lohman).. but, nothing can quite top the genius originality of all three original Evil Dead films.

 

Arrival at the Cabin

Don't go down into the Cellar..

The Evil Dead achieves that clever reinterpretation of early cinema standards that characterises avant guard filmmaking so well. Taking us on a Phantom train ride, that early Silents such as the Lumière brothers film L’Arrivée d’un Train (1896) shocked audiences with, and transposing the scene to a loose scrub track through a dense woodland, arriving at what seems to be an end of the line eerie cabin final destination. The effect is amplified by a preamble trip across a rickety bridge track that threatens collapse, and establishes in our minds that this is indeed a one way trip.

The original Phantom Rides ran in two directions –  the first, from the perspective of the train itself, was achieved by strapping a camera to the front of the train, becoming as it were, the eyes of the rocketing beast. The reverse of the Phantom Ride was the illusion of collision, and was achieved by placing the camera at an angle on a train platform, filming directly into the oncoming behemoth. This last effect caused such shock to early film audiences, that many filmgoers leapt from their seats to avoid the oncoming metal monster. Raimi uses both of these effects in the Evil Dead films, and often back to back, to flip and distort vision.

Travelling on the ‘phantom ride’ in ‘Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)

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Camera-run from Evil Dead II

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Meeting the ‘phantom ride’ in L’Arrivée d’un Train (1896)

Released the same year, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining also made use of Phantom Rides, but famously developed the now ubiquitous Steady Cam to allow cameramen to run and chase an actor or an actor’s perspective with grace and relative ease. With it’s comparatively minuscule budget, The Evil Dead had to make use of camera’s strapped to planks of wood, and cameramen who were willing to risk life and limb for art. Both films may have used similar techniques, but the overall effects were polar opposites in terms of mood and more obviously in perspective. Whereas Kubrick achieved a balletic smoothness to his gliding camera through The Overlook Hotel and it’s snowbound maze, Raimi’s looser and haphazard camera churns and warps vision, with the sickening buoyancy of a drug trip on a full stomach. 

Evil Dead is pretty much exclusively shot in the third person, from the perspective of  either it’s characters or from without, via some unseen embodiment of the dark woods. Vision plows forwards, backwards, or is knocked cockeyed into Dutch angles, transporting us into a bold melding of German Expressionism (tones of ‘The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari’ abound), and dizzying 60’s Batman style fight scenes.. like Hitchcock on acid. Raimi references other horror films of the 1970’s, such as ‘The Exorcist’, and ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, but unlike Tarantino, he reinterprets and explores these motifs, rather than as a direct homage. We get the feeling of The Evil Dead as an original setter of a new style, as opposed to the sort of ‘ticking-off list’ of reference points that later horror pieces like ‘Scream’ developed. In this sense, ‘The Evil Dead’ was as influential on the medium as ‘Psycho’,  ‘Les Diaboliques’ and ‘Night of the Living Dead’.

Lazy Mary dutch angle

Automatic Drawing

Sam Raimi described the shooting process of Evil Dead as ‘twelve weeks of mirthless exercise in agony..’, a feeling echoed by it’s shell-shocked cast trapped on-location (Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker & Theresa Tilly).  Indeed, despite the film’s success, only Bruce Campbell reprising his role for parts II and III, with the actress Betsy Baker though key to the plot, having to morph into Denise Bixler and then Bridget Fonda as the trilogy advances. This change though works particularly well, since the whole feel of the Evil Dead trilogy is one of an almost dreamlike reinterpretation with each subsequent sequel. Before part one was set into production, Raimi had already attempted a dry-run short three years earlier, entitled ‘Within the Woods’, with Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss already on-board (good luck finding a decent copy to watch, by the way.. the only version I could track down online looked like it had been dragged through a hedge backwards), and exists as a fascinating prototype in embryonic form.

Raimi’s use of Shemp’s during all three films to make up for low budget and filming difficulties has become the stuff of legend and self parody, using not only himself, but also his brother Ted Raimi to double for the actors left, right and centre. A fake Shemp, for those not in the know, is when someone appears as a replacement for a missing actor during filming, and can be disguised by either not appearing fully in frame, or by standing with back to camera. The term ‘Shemp’ itself derives from Shemp Howard, of The Three Stooges, who having unfortunately died midway through filming, the Stooges decided to use Joe Palma (Shemp’s stand-in) along with old unused footage to create the illusion that Shemp was still around for the remaining contracted films in production. Each of the Evil Dead films supplies a long list of Shemps in their closing credits, and include numerous appearances by Raimi himself.

Ellen Sandweiss

Unwell

The Evil Dead joined the fraternity of hip, dangerous films that carried the infamous X -Certificate.  As critic William Rotsler so succinctly put it – “The XXX-rating means hard-core, the XX-rating is for simulation, and an X-rating is for comparatively cool films.” For while it is true that Evil Dead became uncomfortable bedfellow with such nasties as ‘I Spit on your Grave’, and ‘Cannibal Holocaust’, it also rubbed shoulders with other heavy weight creative forces, such as ‘Fritz the Cat’, ‘A Clockwork Orange’, ‘Last Tango in Paris’, and the iconic ‘Midnight Cowboy’. The later years of the X-Certificate found the more dubious filmmakers applying the X to their films themselves, in hopes of gaining artificial notoriety. Ultimately the large number of seedy films carrying the X-Certificate began to cause some cinemas to avoid X films altogether, on the assumption that X just stood for Sex in the minds of patrons.. so by the time Evil Dead II was completed, Raimi decided, along with others to release their films unrated, dropping the X, and instead including a warning banner upfront – ‘Contains content for Adults Only’. By the early 90’s the X Certificate was put aside altogether, and replaced with a no-nonsense NC-17 rating in America, and 18 Certificate in Britain.

Recording, precursor to found footage Horror films

Bruce Campbell

 The enduring appeal of the ‘Dead’ films owes much to it’s highly inventive, offbeat humour, and it’s on the spot creativity. A joy and passion which can rarely be replicated on a big budget. The pleasures of stop-frame animation for example, an integral part of the final scenes of the 1st film, continued to appear in the subsequent sequels,  so as to maintain a firm link to the creative magic of independent, low budget filmmaking, despite the increased budgets of those installments. Raimi struck gold with his Evil Dead series, and so too did it’s charismatic star, Bruce Campbell, who went on to become a highly successful cult personality in his own right, appearing in numerous roles and guest-spots in the years that followed, including an iconic run on cult Tv series ‘The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.’ (well worth seeking out, though perhaps merely as an oddity in Tv land).

Something else I should mention.. that X-Cerificate still weaves it’s mystical power, and manages to scare off many a prospective viewer, who doubtless fear nightmares and revulsion.. which is a shame, since The Evil Dead is as fresh and original now as it’s ever been. Yes, there’s many a freaky, disturbing image to contend with, but on each occasion you experience a chill, you find a counterbalancing grin on your chops. ‘Evil Dead II: Dead before Dawn’, will have you laughing out loud, and by the time you reach the end of  ‘Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness’, you’ll be pining for more, like a pathetic, Horror-sick puppy dog. As for those who continue to avoid the original, and instead get sucked into watching the remake instead? Well.. perhaps one of those nice, safe Twilight films will better suit you’s. 

Join ussssssss

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Within the Woods (1978)

The Evil Dead(1981/2)

The Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

The Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness (1992)

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STILLS & POSTER ART

The Evil Dead - Promo shoot 1981 (Lobby)

  The Evil Dead - Promo shoot 1981 ~ The Evil Dead - Promo shoot 1981 (ii) -

The Evil Dead - Promo shoot 1981 (iii)   The Evil Dead - Promo shoot 1981 (iv)

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The 85th Annual Academy Awards (2013)

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

The 85th Annual Academy Awards

(2013)

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The Oscars came to town once more, and brought with them the usual mixed bag of highs and lows, of spectacle and unbelievable culture shock. As ever the whole affair had the flavour of a shiny, cotton candy circus tent, filled with the beautiful and the tarnished (a sad passing of the baton between acting generations) sat side by side with the frightfully ordinary and downright freakish army of king for a day unknowns.. wide eyed Producers, Writers, Cameramen, Gaffers, 2nd assistant Directors, stunt coordinators, the guy who prostrated himself as a living footstool for Meryl Streep during lunch breaks.. all sewn into their ill fitting suits and desperately trying to look nonchalant about sitting three seats down from a God or Goddess. 

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OSCARS - 85th Academy Awards - Overview

Seth McFarlane

This year’s show fell a little flat, mostly due to its shiny, middling host, and lack of the usual drum-roll, witty opening piss take of the year in films. Instead, we were (treated?) to a series of lukewarm comedic songs, incongruous dance routines (even so, Charlize Theron did look rather stunning gliding about the stage), and a lacklustre barrage of twaddle from Seth Mcfarlane’s big bumper book of unfunnies. Digging out William Shatner didn’t drag back much more than an initial, ‘Oh, doesn’t he look old..’ reaction, and as for McFarlane’s ‘Now begins the task of trying to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh’ joke..  well.. he didn’t laugh a 2nd time, and nor did anyone else. 

Tommy Lee Jones laugh

Shatner

Taking as it’s theme this year,  ‘Music of the Cinema’, we were presented with a succession of  renditions by the great and the current, in various degrees of quality. There was a genuine thrill to see the old school magic of Streisand and Bassey, even at somewhat diminished power, the effect was still impressive and lasting. The modern contingents were somewhat lack lustre in comparison, with Norah Jones and Adele (far outshone by Paloma Faith at this years BAFTAS back across the water) running to catch up, and Jennifer Hudson  belting out something incoherent, with whoops and many curious hand gestures to the crowd (making damned sure everyone knew she ‘wasn’t miming’, after that tricky Beyonce inauguration business). Catherine Zeta Jones reenacted ‘All that jazz’, from Chicago, and though clearly not singing live,  did look fabulous and moved very impressively.. although I think we were all waiting for Renee Zellweger to show up at some point. The cast of ‘Les Miserables’ collectively sang their hearts out with ‘One day more’, and turned in the performance of the night, clearly illustrating that they were the true winners of Best Picture.

Shirlry Bassey

Les Mis

Am I the only one feeling more than a little mystified and downright suspicious of Argo’s success. I can’t quite shake the feeling that Ben Affleck had to do some serious ring kissing to Godfather George Clooney, and sign away his soul and god knows what else for a nice shiny statuette. Whatever the deal, it didn’t stretch to Best Director, since that of course would be plainly ridiculous, alongside such talented heavyweights as Tarantino, Ang Li and Kathryn Bigelow.. even so, Affleck still managed to give a ‘I won the jackpot!’ speech, whilst Godfather Clooney stood smugly alongside, ready to take possession of his soul once the curtain falls. I like Clooney, but the Academy are clearly working on finding a replacement for Jack Nicholson when he pops his clogs. Will it be old Hollywood charm Clooney, or their back-up cat who got the cream, Robert Downey Jnr.? Only time will tell who gets the spotlight, and more perks than the new Pope. Until then, they’ll both give that knowing nod to the cameras, emperors in the making. 

The Argo Conspiracy

Jennifer Lawrence falls as she walks up the steps to accept the award for best actress at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood

On the whole the awards themselves found reasonable enough homes, even if the Argo fiasco left a strange aftertaste on the cine-palette. The Best Supporting category brought Anne Hathaway and the exceedingly likeable Christoph Waltz recognition for two performances that somewhat outshone the Best Actor & Actress winners. Between Jennifer Lawrence’s tumble upon mounting the stage (with over 2 million hits on YouTube, that topple will no doubt prove as valuable a piece of self-promotion as the Oscar itself), and Daniel Day Lewis’ highly witty speech, the Oscars managed to recaptured some of that unexpected live magic that is guaranteed with even the lamest of hosts at the helm.

Anyway, here be the results:

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BEST MOTION PICTURE

Argo
Amour
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

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BEST DIRECTOR

David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
Ang Lee – Life of Pi
Steven Speilberg – Lincoln
Michael Haneke – Amour
Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

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BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

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BEST ACTOR

Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
Denzel Washington – Flight

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Salma Hayek behind the scenes

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BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Amy Adams – The Master
Sally Field – Lincoln
Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

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BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Alan Arkin – Argo
Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
Phillip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Amour
Django Unchained
Flight
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

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BEST ADAPTED SCRENNPLAY

Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook

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Kidman behind the scenes

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BEST ANIMATED FILM

Brave
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

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BEST FOREIGN FILM

Amour (Austria)
Kon-Tiki (Norway)
No (Chile)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
War Witch (Canada)

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BEST DOCUMENTARY

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

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Oscar Winner's Photocall

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BEST FILM EDITING

Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

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BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Anna Karenina
Les Misérables
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

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BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING

Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables

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Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis - 85th Annual Academy Awards, press room   85th Academy Awards, Portraits

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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Marvel’s The Avengers
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman

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BEST SOUND EDITING
Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

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BEST SOUND MIXING

Argo
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

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BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice
“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from Ted
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi
“Skyfall” from Skyfall
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables

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Charlize Theron & Dustin Hoffman Presenting   85th Academy Awards, Backstage

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BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Best Animated Short
Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
The Longest Daycare
Paperman

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BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew
Death of a Shadow (Dood Van Een Schaduw)
Henry

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BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

Inocente
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Redemption

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85th Academy Awards, Portraits

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Salma Hayek - 85th Annual Academy Awards

THE RED CARPET

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Amanda Seyfried & Jessica Chastain 85th Annual Academy Awards  Anne Hathaway - 85th Annual Academy Awards

Catherine Zeta-Jones - 85th Annual Academy Awards  Charlize Theron - 85th Annual Academy Awards

85th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals    Helena Bonham Carter - 85th Annual Academy Awards

Jennifer Lawrence - 85th Annual Academy Awards   Jessica Chastain - 85th Annual Academy Awards

85th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals   Renee Zellweger - 85th Annual Academy Awards

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