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A short film by director Sam Raimi, he made it in his college days in
hopes of raising money to be able to make his masterful horror film The
Evil Dead (1981).
Two couples staying at a country house are terrorized when one of them becomes murderously possessed by evil spirits.
Even with its grainy, home-made quality, Within the Woods is perhaps the greatest horror short ever made! There's plenty of effectively eerie and dark atmosphere, well-timed shocks, and some bloody-good makeup FX. It's a gripping little horror picture! Raimi would later spoof scenes from this short in both The Evil Dead (1981) and Evil Dead II (1987).
Young Bruce Campbell heads the small cast. Campbell does a good show as a likable teenager turned horrid monster by an evil spirit. Ellen Sandweiss (who would go on to star in The Evil Dead) appears as the films heroine.
A bit of a rare find, but a must-see for Raimi's fans!
*** 1/2 out of ****
Sypnosis: Two couples go to a farmhouse for the weekend. One couple
goes out for a picnic and accidentally wake evil spirits. Will they
survive Within the Woods?
Within the Woods(1978) was, as mentioned above, a damn good little film. Sam Raimi definitely knew where he was going with this when he directed it. Bruce Campbell, of course, delivers, (he never did make a bad performance, did he? I mean, he's the only reason to watch Herbie the love bug and Congo...) and Ellen Sandweiss is believable as the tormented Ellen. Scott Spiegel and Mary Valenti perform to the extent of their roles. (I.E. cannon fodder...) It was shot with approximatively 1,600$ of budget in a three day weekend in Michigan. It premiered in August 1979 at the Punch and Judy theatre in Detroit double-billed with the Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The good: This movie heralds the birth of the Evil Force, a Raimi horror staple, along with his crazy camera movements. The makeup by Tom Sullivan is great for a first feature and the film has enough gory moments in the latter half. The film was so intense, that even if the super-8 projector filled a 1/4 of the screen, the audience actually reacted to it!
The bad: No available copy (excluding of course Raimi's and Campbell's) has high quality or sound and is hard as all hell to find. Let's hope some day Anchor Bay closes the deal to release this little gem.
I got my hands on a 30th generation dub of this short. The same plot as Evil Dead, but really really old and simple compared to the first full-length production of Sam Raimi. It's nice and campy, with some really cool camera shots, and it's the perfect length for a short. I enjoyed it, but if you didn't know anything about Evil Dead or Sam Raimi, you would just blow it off. I recommend FINDING A COPY, if you are a fan.
Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss go out for a picnic while Scott Spiegel
and Mary Valenti play Monopoly. Ellen is told by Bruce about the whole
being an indian burial ground, before falling asleep. She wakes up to find
Bruce missing, and then there's a whole lot of running, stabbing, and POV
Sam Raimi made this film for $1,600 on Super-8 over one weekend. This film
is a real treat for Evil Dead fans, because, despite lacking Campbell's
Ashness (where he was a wimp in Evil Dead, and progressed into an asshole
Army of Darkness), it contains many scenes that would later be seen in
Deads 1 and 2, and Sam Raimi's Evil POV shots. It is also atmospheric and
quite scary, something that seems almost impossible given the
Evil Dead fans will love this, and it is worth searching the net for
copies of the film (as Anchor bay were unable to provide the film on the
Limited Edition Evil Dead DVD), for anyone else, this film would only
to aspiring filmakers.
6/10 Anyone with a casual interest in film
8/10 Evil Dead fans like myself
"Within the Woods" is largely known as the prequel to "The Evil Dead".This 30-minutes film was created to sell investors on the idea of "The Evil Dead".The film is extremely low-budget and the story is minimal.Still there is plenty of gore to satisfy fans of American horror.Bruce Cambell plays Bruce,who gets zombified.Ellen Sandweiss plays his girlfriend,Ellen.However she doesn't get raped by a tree in this film,though.The cinematography is grainy and the moving steady/shaky camera-a Raimi trademark-probably made it's debut here."Within the Woods" is rather tough to find,but if you get a chance watch it.Highly recommended.
Or more accurately, "Invest In Us...", as that's exactly what this short
30-minute movie was trying to say. This 30-minute concept movie was intended
to convince people to loan Raimi and his crew money to make the first "Evil
We all the know the story by now surely : a bunch of teenagers are staying in a cabin and they awaken an evil curse that tries to kill them all off one by one blah blah blah ... only THIS time, rather than the "Book of the Dead", it is an ancient Indian curse that's causing all the carnage. Fun, huh?
First off, I can't believe that Raimi actually had the nerve to use the words "Ancient Indian Burial Ground" in a horror movie. But that and the vacuum cleaner sound effects aside, this is a great concept movie that showed exactly what it needed to - that Raimi even at that age was a competent director capable of making a successful movie.
There are aspects of this short movie that are present in the later ones, and it is interesting to note these ideas (the follow cam, the banging swing, "Join Us!") and exact sequences such as Linda trying to open the cabin door and the whole three minute "Zombie At The Door" sequence that appear literally shot-for-shot in Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2.
Serious Evil Dead fans should definitely take a look if you ever get the chance.
Two couples are vacationing in a rickety shack deep "Within the Woods".
When Bruce and Ellen decide to venture out to have a picnic, they find
the worst possible place to roast their weenies. They soon learn that
disturbing an ancient Indian burial ground has its price
and they will
pay in blood.
Hey, hey you can't really fault the filmmakers for the production. This Super 8 short was put to round up some funding for what would later become "The Evil Dead" (1982). The film itself is actually pretty good with a good atmosphere and music score that punctuate an already creepy cabin and woods. You'll see many a gag and shot that will later be replicated in the official version and let's face it any "Dead" fan has got to see "Within the Woods" for the sheer fun. Word of warning though the short has never gotten an official release (due to music rights issues) it only exists in bootleg form. If you pay for it good luck because you'll get suckered. Downloading is your best bet (it is plenty available on most P2P's) because it always seems to be an 87th generation copy of a 10th generation VHS dupe. Not worth a bloody dime but priceless any other way.
This is a great effort for an amateur horror film, and I think a film like this could inspire many amateur filmmakers to fulfill their dreams of making a great film. The low quality got in the way, but I still enjoyed this movie quite a bit. The similarities between this and Evil Dead/II are obvious, and I think Evil Dead II especially because one of the stars of this film (Scott Speigel) co-wrote ED2. I love this movie, and I think that in a few ways it is superior to ED. Anyone who likes Evil Dead or Evil Dead 2(-Dead By Dawn) will probably enjoy this effort of Rob Tapert (who is credited as Rip Tapert), Sam Raimi, and Bruce Campbell. If you can get this movie, I suggest you do it as soon as possible.
This is the short film from the filmakers that made "The Evil Dead". The
film is kind of rough, and it doesn't come in that great, and about the
place to find it, is bootlegged on the internet.
The story involves college students who take a picnic on an indian burial ground. One of them becomes possessed by a spirit and goes on a murder spree.
Very dark and gory.
Contains Strong Violence, no nudity though
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before THE EVIL DEAD (1981) came this "concept" movie which is nearly
the same exact plot aside from the fact it's missing the "Book of the
Dead" stuff and drops one of the characters. It runs only 30 minutes
and since the budget is virtually nonexistent, it's naturally not
nearly as polished as the later films and has that "home movie" feel to
it. Some slight changes were made here and there, but elements from
this, as well as whole scenes, ended up making their way into the first
two Dead films, so it's certainly a worthy watch for fans of the
series. Unfortunately, the copy I viewed was in terrible shape. It
looked like it has been copied about 50 times, was too dark and had a
bunch of picture rolls. I'm not sure if all the available prints are in
the same condition or not. Maybe I just got a bad one.
Two couples are staying at a little white house in the country (as opposed to the rustic looking cabin used later). Bruce (Bruce Campbell) and Linda (Ellen Sandweiss) decide to go outside and roast hot dogs. He explains that the property rests on an ancient Indian burial ground that's rumored to be cursed. While digging around in the dirt, Bruce uncovers a few ancient artifacts, including an Indian dagger. Linda goes to sleep on a blanket. When she wakes up, Bruce has disappeared. On the way back to the house she finds a mutilated corpse of what's presumed to be Bruce and is stalked by floating spirits. These shots are basically the same ones utilized in the later movies, complete with similar sounding music. After Linda arrives at the house, Scotty (Scott Spiegel) decides to go out looking for Bruce. While he's gone a demon possessed Bruce attacks. He grabs the other female and stabs her in the neck, then comes after Linda.
The parts I remember the director reusing aside from the same style of camera-work and music include a demon hand mashed in a door, one of the characters accidentally getting stabbed and then blocking the doorway as someone frantically tries to shut it, a presumed dead corpse suddenly rising into frame from the floor, a demon getting hacked to a bloody pulp on a couch and, of course, the legendary line "Join us." Some aspects near the beginning clearly seem influenced by the original Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE, such as use of tinny music and when Linda trips, falls down and then looks up to see a mangled corpse. The makeup effects from Tom Sullivan are fairly good, the acting isn't bad and there's enough imagination going around to see how Raimi was able to get investors involved in helping back the feature length version a few years later.
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