Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.
At the end of principal shooting in Tennessee, the crew put together a little time capsule package and buried it inside the fire place of the cabin as a memento of the production to whoever found it. The cabin has since been destroyed, but the time capsule was found by a couple of ardent Evil Dead fans who discovered that the fireplace of the cabin was still intact.
During the scene where Ash is about to cut up his girlfriend with a chainsaw, Bruce Campbell actually had to use a real chainsaw and hold it up to the actress's chest. You can see on the close-up of Linda's neck (looking at the necklace) that her pulse is racing.
In Germany the movie was released to the theaters and on video the same day to avoid problems with the censorship boards. It was banned shortly afterward but dominated the top ten in the few weeks of his release. The movie is still banned theatrically in Germany.
The cabin was located in Morristown, Tennessee. In Bruce Campbell's biography he says that it was later burned down. No one knows for sure what happened (Sam Raimi says that he burnt it down himself after filming). Additionally, no one will give out complete directions to the cabin because the only remaining part of the structure is the brick chimney, and too many people have already vandalized the property.
The blood is a combination of Karo syrup, non-dairy creamer, and red food coloring. At one point, Bruce Campbell's shirt that he wears in the film was so saturated with the fake blood that after drying it by the fire, the shirt became solidified and broke when he tried to put it on.
At the end of a 'normal' day of shooting, Bruce Campbell would return home in the back of a pickup truck because he was covered in fake blood from head to toe.
A cameraman slipped during filming, smashing his camera into Bruce Campbell's face and knocking out several of the actor's teeth.
Some critics have called the "tree raping" scene misogynistic, and even Sam Raimi regrets putting it in the film.
The white liquid that often emits from the possessed after they're injured or maimed is 2% milk that Sam Raimi chose to use, not just to show how the possessed aren't normal beings but also to mix it up so the MPAA wouldn't give the film an X rating. Ultimately the film was released unrated.
The film was shown to Stephen King, and it was his glowing endorsement (which was later used on the film's ads and posters) of the film which really sold it to the public. The film was bought by New Line Cinema soon after.
The film ran out of money and only half of it was completed in the winter of 1980. In order to complete it, Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert and Bruce Campbell did everything they could to complete the film. From taking out high interest bank loans, borrowing money from friends and family and even making cold calls to businesses around their hometown state of Michigan. The cold calls worked in that they actually got catering, gasoline and other necessities that the cast and crew needed.
During the scene where the possessed Linda attempts to stab Ash with the dagger, Betsy Baker actually had no idea where he was. With her heavy, white contact lenses preventing her from seeing Bruce Campbell, he was literally battling a blind actress.
Betsy Baker (Linda) revealed in an interview that she was told the producers were interested in her to star in a horror movie. She only agreed to meet them in a public restaurant, however, because she was genuinely suspicious about the filmmakers.
After completing principal photography in the winter of 1979-1980, most of the actors left the production. However, there was still much of the film to be completed. Most of the second half of the film features Bruce Campbell and various stand-ins (or "Fake Shemps") to replace the actors who left.
Sam Raimi originally wanted to title this film "Book of the Dead," but producer Irvin Shapiro changed the title to "The Evil Dead" for fear that kids would be turned off seeing a movie with a literary reference.
When Ash and Cheryl return to the cabin, (after the failed attempt to drive into town due to the destroyed bridge) Scott goes to say something and then suddenly stops, throws his head back, and steps out of the shot. This was due to the actor (Richard DeManincor) blowing his line.
The eerie wind noise in the movie was recorded by Sam Raimi. He first heard it through his bedroom window while he was trying to sleep and thought it would be perfect for the movie.
On the tape in which the demon resurrection passages are read aloud, some of the words spoken (which appear to be Latin) sound like, "Sam and Rob, Das ist Hikers Dan dee Roadsa," which means, "Sam and Rob are the Hikers on the road," as it was actually Sam Raimi and Robert G. Tapert who play the fishermen that wave to the car as it passes them near the start of the film.
After Scott says, "They know, they're not gonna let us go!" he screams higher than his normal voice register. This was actually Sam Raimi's voice meshed in with Scott's scream.
In Germany, the movie's release was hindered by public authorities for almost 10 years. Original 1982 cinema and video releases of the movie had been seized, making the movie a hit on the black market video circuit, with pirated copies abound. A heavily edited version was first made available in 1992. Several high-profile horror enthusiasts, among them even author Stephen King, publicly criticized the German ban on the movie. In other German language markets, the movie was never restricted from distribution. The first legal uncut version of the movie entered the German market in 2001, on DVD.
Bruce Campbell put up his family's property in Northern Michigan as collateral so that Sam Raimi not only could finish the film, but also blow it up to 35 mm film which was required for theatrical release.
Filming began in 1979 with a cast and crew of 37 people. Initial shooting finished in six weeks, but it took 1.5 years to edit the picture.
Most of the demon POVs that glide across the ground were shot by mounting the camera to a 2X4 while Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell ran along holding either side
The voice of the professor on the tape recording is that of American Movie Classics host Bob Dorian.
The film was intended to be filmed in Michigan in a cabin, however Sam Raimi and Co. could not find one. They tried the Michigan Tourism guide which was no help, so they came up with the idea of going to Tennessee to shoot. While there they could not find a cabin and the closest they had come was one filled with squatters. At the very last minute, Raimi and crew found the cabin they used in the film which was not far from the house the cast and crew had moved into for the arduous shoot. The cabin had to be renovated from top to bottom as it was in deplorable condition. Rooms were filled with four inches of horse manure and electricity had to be put in along with a working telephone to make it hospitable.
Bruce Campbell actually twisted his ankle on a root of a tree and was in pain when Sam Raimi and Robert G. Tapert thought Campbell was fooling around. They started to poke at the ankle to the point that it made Campbell laugh, despite the pain. Raimi told him to "stop fooling around and get ready for the next shot." Campbell painfully obliged.
The cabin did not actually have a cellar. Most of the cellar scenes were filmed in the stone cellar of a farmhouse owned by producer Robert G. Tapert's family in Marshall, Michigan. The last room of the cellar was actually Sam Raimi's garage. The hanging gourds and bones are a tribute to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). For the scene where the students descend into the cellar, a hole was cut into the floor, a shallow pit was dug and a ladder was placed into the pit.
The temperatures were so cold at time during shooting that the camera and other wiring froze. They then had to be thawed by the fireplace inside the cabin.
The scene with Cheryl in the woods was not originally scripted as a rape scene. According to Ellen Sandweiss, the original script simply read "Cheryl is attacked by the woods" and that the scene kept being added to while they were filming, as well as in post production.
The tape recorder found in the cabin belonged to Bruce Campbell's father.
Although the movie was never released officially in Hungary, it was widely spread through the black market on video and was referred to as "Az erdö szelleme" ("The spirit of the woods").
The opening sequence of the evil moving over the pond is actually Bruce Campbell pushing Sam Raimi in a dingy whilst he films the shot.
The Evil Dead (1981) was made on an estimated $350,000 budget. When Sam Raimi later made Spider-Man 3 (2007), it was filmed on a $350,000,000 budget, 1000 times the cost of The Evil Dead (1981), making it the most expensive motion picture produced at that time.
Ash's last name is never mentioned throughout the entire Evil Dead trilogy, though Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell did toy around with calling him "Ashley J Williams" and "Ash Holt," the latter revealing how Sam viewed the character...
One of the sketches in the Book of the Dead comes from William Blake's painting "The Great Red Dragon And The Woman Clothed With The Sun."
Joel Coen was an assistant editor on the film. This was one his earliest professional jobs. He and his brother Ethan Coen would produce and make the film Blood Simple. (1984) three years after the release of this film. In preparing to get funding for that film, the Coens enlisted the help of friends Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi to help out and they happily did so. Campbell and Raimi also starred in a short film based on scenes of Blood Simple for the Coens to show to potential investors, which proved successful.
Creamed corn dyed green was used as zombie guts.
Richard DeManincor and Theresa Tilly went under different stage names during the shoot, since they were members of the Screen Actors Guild and wanted to avoid being penalized for participating in a non-union production. DeManincor credits himself as Hal Delrich, and Tilly as Sarah York. DeManincor acquired his stage name by combining his short name with his roommates' names, Hal and Del.
In 2003, "Evil Dead: The Musical" debuted in Toronto, before moving onto an off-Broadway run in 2006.
The Evil Dead (1981) was release in Finland 1984 by Magnum video and was heavily (11 min 50 sec) cut. According to persistent legend it was Renny Harlin who did the cutting.
During the car scene, Scotty has a glass of moonshine in his hand and Ash makes a funny face. Originally, they were all supposed to be drinking moonshine - and Ash's expression was a reaction to the drink, but the scene was cut.
The character of Scotty is named after Raimi's long-time friend Scott Spiegel, and the character of Cheryl is named after Cheryl Guttridge, the star of Raimi's short film Clockwork (1978).
The first of many collaborations between composer Joseph LoDuca, director Sam Raimi, producer Robert G. Tapert and actor Bruce Campbell.
The remainder of the film was shot all around Michigan utilizing Robert G. Tapert's family farm, Sam Raimi's garage and other various indoor and outdoor locations.
Irvin Shapiro, the film's producer, was the one who helped sell the film and its eventual success. He mentored Sam Raimi on how to sell the film properly, as he was inexperienced as a filmmaker at the time and the only way the film could have been sold was through brochures (in multiple languages), press kits, etc. Once this was done, the film eventually found a distributor.
The German translation of the movie's title is "Dance of the Devils."
The film was initially released in the United States by New Line Cinema with an X-rating and was later revised to NC-17 in 1994. All home video copies produced by Anchor Bay Entertainment are uncut and classified "Not rated", because the licensing studio (Renaissance Pictures) is not contractually obligated to provide an MPAA rating with their film, unlike a major studio such as New Line.
The magnifying glass necklace was originally intended to be a plot point by focusing the sunlight to burn the Book of the Dead, but it was decided after shooting began that this wasn't going to work, so its actual use in the film was a desperate attempt to keep it relevant since so much film time had been spent on it already.
During Ash's fighting scene with the possessed Scott, after gouging out Scotts eyeballs Ash yanks something out of Scott's jeans and blood begins to flow. Many have believed that Ash was yanking out a "reproductive organ" based on its shape and position. However, what Ash pulled out was a small branch gouged into Scott's leg after he was beaten savagely by the trees.
The Evil Dead (1981)
NC-17 | 1h 25min | Horror | 15 April 1983 (USA)
Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Sam Raimi
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor