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The Evil Dead (1981) Poster

(1981)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Trademark (3) | Spoilers (10)
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.
The original script called for all the characters to be smoking marijuana when they are first listening to the tape. The actors decided to try this for real, and the entire scene had to be later re-shot due to their uncontrollable behavior.
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.
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.
Filmed in a real-life abandoned cabin.
When there wasn't any filming, Bruce Campbell would actually help out with the crew in prepping shots and props around the set.
Bruce Campbell twisted his ankle on a root while running down a steep hill, and Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert decided to tease him by poking his injury with sticks, thus causing Campbell to have an obvious limp in some scenes.
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.
Andy Grainger, a friend of Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, gave them this advice: "Fellas, no matter what you do, keep the blood running down the screen." They included the scene in the finished film where the blood runs down the projector screen as a tribute to him.
Director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell were friends from high school, where they made many super-8 films together. They would often collaborate with Sam's brother, Ted Raimi. Campbell became the "actor" of the group, as "he was the one that girls wanted to look at."
In Germany, the film was released in 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 its release. Only in July 2016, the ban was lifted. To do this, law firm Baker & McKenzie, on behalf of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, had to get three courts to revise decisions on at least five different bans. While it is not the first that a movie banishment in Germany was revoked, it is the first time for Sony to show an interest in achieving this.
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.
There's a ripped poster of The Hills Have Eyes (1977) visible. Ostensibly, this was in reference to a ripped poster for Jaws (1975) that appeared in that film; Sam Raimi and the others interpreted that as Wes Craven suggesting that "Hills" was much more frightening than "Jaws," thus they showed a ripped "Hills" poster because their film was to be even scarier yet. See also: The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).
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.
Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell's feature debut.
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. Raimi was so grateful for his financial contribution, he credited him as Co-Producer.
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.
When Cheryl returns to the cabin, (right after the scene with with the vines where she complains about wanting to go home) 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 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 opening sequence of the evil moving over the pond was achieved by having Bruce Campbell push Sam Raimi in a dingy whilst he filmed the shot.
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.
The white contact lenses were very painful to wear. They covered half the eye and had to be taken out every 15 minutes to allow the eyes to breathe.
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.
According to cast and crew members, this was one of the worst experiences they'd ever been involved in due to freezing temperatures, the locale, and Sam Raimi's filming which took endless hours.
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, Rob 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.
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 Rob Tapert who play the fishermen that wave to the car as it passes them near the start of the film.
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. This version was seized by German authorities less than a year later, though. It was not until July 2016 that the uncut version of the movie was finally redeemed and made legally available in Germany again.
Bruce Campbell actually twisted his ankle on a root of a tree and was in pain when Sam Raimi and Rob 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the highest rated video rentals of its year.
The tape recorder found in the cabin belonged to Bruce Campbell's father.
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
Richard DeManincor reportedly had no idea the movie had such a cult following until he started appearing at conventions and was surprised by the amount of fans who attended.
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 Rob 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 film was screened several times around middle to late 1981 to Michigan preview audiences who loved the film. According to Bruce Campbell, "one patron was happy she saw the film because she was having a bad day!"
The cabin used as the film's set was also used as lodging for the thirteen crew members, with several people sleeping in the same room. Living conditions were terrible, and the crew frequently argued. The actors went days without showering or bathing (the cabin did not have plumbing), and fell ill frequently in the freezing weather. Things got so bad that, by the end of production, they were burning furniture to stay warm.
In a scene where Ash drives away from the cabin, he gets out of the car and seems to walk at an angle, creating an eerie and otherworldly effect. This was accomplished by parking the car on a slight incline and tilting the camera at the same angle (so that the car appeared straight). When Bruce Campbell gets out of the car, he is walking on the flat ground, which looks crooked because the car and camera are both tilted sideways.
The voice of the professor on the tape recording is that of American Movie Classics host Bob Dorian.
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").
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...
Creamed corn dyed green was used as zombie guts.
Betsy Baker lost her eye lashes in the process of removing her facial mold.
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.
As the car is driving up to the cabin at the beginning of the movie, instead of Theresa Tilly it's Sam Raimi you see from "Shelly's" window.
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."
The film Mary Whitehouse showed in court to support the idea of the 'video nasty,' although the pre-VRA video was the version the BBFC had cut and passed 'X.' It was removed and re-added to the 'video nasty' list several times but was never successfully prosecuted.
On the very first day of shooting, during a scene shot on a bridge, the crew got lost in the woods.
In his autobiography, Bruce Campbell described the film's production as "a comedy of errors" and "twelve weeks of mirthless exercise in agony".
Dead chickens were stabbed to replicate the sounds of mutilated flesh, and Bruce Campbell had to scream into a microphone for several hours.
During the scene where Linda is possessed, the make-up artist originally wanted to make her look like a snake-like creature, as can be seen when Ash is dragging her outside (filmed before the scene indoors, with her singing the creepy song). Her make-up was dark and a little more greenish, but eventually they changed the make-up to an evil doll-face look.
Because of the low budget, contact lenses as thick as glass had to be applied to the actors to achieve the "demonic eyes" effect. The lenses took ten minutes to apply, and could only be left on for about fifteen minutes because eyes could not "breathe" with them applied. Bruce Campbell later commented that to get the effect of wearing these lenses, they had to put "Tupperware" over their eyes.
One of the most intricate moments during editing was the stop-motion sequence where the corpses "melted", which took hours to cut properly.
The pieces of wood that fall from the bridge at the beginning and the log used to fight off Ash's possessed girlfriend in the woods are made from a foam substance and were recycled props from an early Sam Raimi movie titled It's Murder! (1977).
Sam Raimi turned twenty just before shooting began, and he considered the project his "rite of passage".
Was one of the first films to be labeled as a "Video Nasty" in the UK, and was banned because of this.
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.
Sam Raimi developed a sense of mise en scène, coming up with ideas for scenes at a fast rate. He had drawn several crude illustrations to help him break down the flow of scenes. The crew was surprised when Raimi began using dutch angles during shots to build atmosphere during scenes.
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The film's first cut ran at around 117 minutes, which Bruce Campbell called an impressive achievement in light of the 65-minute length of the screenplay. It was then edited down to a more marketable 85 minutes. The original version would focus on the terror that is present, but also the tragedy of Ash slowly losing his friends, and his guilt for not being able to save them.
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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.
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.
A camera trick used to emulate a Steadicam inexpensively was the "shaky cam", which involved mounting the camera to a piece of wood and having two camera operators sprint around the swamp.
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The film's final scene was shot with the camera mounted to a bike, while it was quickly driven through the cabin to create a seamless long take.
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In 2003, "Evil Dead: The Musical" debuted in Toronto, before moving onto an off-Broadway run in 2006.
Several actors had inadvertently been stabbed or thrown into objects during production.
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Sam Raimi chose a Detroit editing association, where he met Edna Ruth Paul, to cut the film. Paul's assistant was Joel Coen, who helped with the film's editing. Paul edited a majority of the film, although Coen notably edited the shed sequence. Coen had been inspired by Raimi's Within the Woods (1978) and liked the idea of producing a prototype film to help build the interest of investors. Joel used the concept to help make Blood Simple. (1984) with his brother Ethan Coen, and he and Raimi became friends following the editing process.
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Sam Raimi showed the film to anyone willing to watch it, booking meetings with distribution agents and anyone with experience in the film industry. Eventually Raimi came across Irvin Shapiro, the man who was responsible for the distribution of Night of the Living Dead (1968) and other famous horror films. Upon first viewing the film, he joked that while it "wasn't Gone with the Wind (1939)", it had commercial potential, and he expressed an interest in distributing it. It was his idea not to use the then-title Book of the Dead, because it made the film sound boring. Raimi brainstormed several ideas, eventually going with The Evil Dead, deemed the "least worst" title. Shapiro also advised distributing the film worldwide to garner a larger income, though it required a further financial investment by Raimi, who managed to scrape together what little money he had.
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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.
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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).
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The remainder of the film was shot all around Michigan utilizing Rob Tapert's family farm, Sam Raimi's garage and other various indoor and outdoor locations.
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To accommodate Sam Raimi's style of direction, several elaborate, low-budget rigs had to be built, since the crew could not afford a camera dolly. One involved the "vas-o-cam", which relied on a mounted camera that was slid down long wood platforms to create a more fluid sense of motion.
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On January 23, 1980, filming was finished and almost every crew member left the set to return home, with Bruce Campbell staying with Sam Raimi. While looking over the footage that had been shot, Raimi discovered that a few pick-ups were required to fill in missing shots. Four days of re-shoots were then done to complete the film. The final moment involved Campbell having "monster-guts" splattered on him in the basement.
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Production would frequently be halted when local hunters wandered into the location.
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The first of many collaborations between composer Joseph LoDuca, director Sam Raimi, producer Rob Tapert and actor Bruce Campbell.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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A closet is opened and a T-shirt with the word "Tamakwa" is visible. Director Sam Raimi went to Camp Tamakwa as a child (see trivia for Indian Summer (1993)).
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The German translation of the movie's title is "Dance of the Devils."
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During scenes involving the unseen force in the woods watching the characters, Sam Raimi had to run through the woods with the makeshift rig, jumping over logs and stones. This often proved difficult due to mist in the swamp.
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Ted Raimi was used as a substitute in many scenes when the original actor was either busy or preoccupied.
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When Ash shoots a Deadite through the window of the cabin causing an explosion of blood, Bruce Campbell is actually firing real life ammunition at a dummy, causing the scene to look more realistic.
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At the premiere screenings of the Evil Dead, blood donor stations were giving free tickets to the movie along with pin badges stating 'I bled for the Evil Dead' to blood donors. Robert Tapert joked in an interview that is was 'their way of giving blood back to the community' after so much (fake) blood was used when filming.
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Despite its controversy and many technical goofs, this is considered to be one of the greatest horror films of all time. Many fans claim it is due to its amount of gore and execution of terror, while critics claim it is due to it's constant reliance on visual storytelling and gripping performances.
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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.
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Steve Frankel was the only carpenter on set, which made him the art direction's sole contributor.
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Without any formal assistance from location scouts, the cast had to find filming locations on their own.
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Several crew members became injured during the shoot, and because of the cabin's remoteness, securing medical assistance was difficult.
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The film premiered at the Redford Theatre in Detroit because Bruce Campbell watched films there as a child.
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Sam Raimi shot a short film called "Within the Woods" to act as a calling card for his feature debut. It did the trick - he was able to raise the $90,000 necessary to make the film.
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Inspired by William Castle, Sam Raimi had ambulances on stand-by as a publicity stunt at the film's premiere.
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This was an early breakthrough for UK producer and distributor Stephen Woolley and his company, Palace Pictures. Previously his company was synonymous with making foreign language films like Fitzcarraldo (1982) more widely available in the UK. The Evil Dead (1981) signified a more commercial direction for the company, compounded by the fact that it was simultaneously released in cinemas and on VHS - a major first in film distribution in the United Kingdom.
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The gun that was used for Ash's Boomstick was actual working shotgun, and actual shots were fired while filming scenes
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When Ash reaches for the necklace on the floor, the chain forms the shape of a skull.
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The themes of the movie have become an iconic favourite among tattoo clientèle.
In the comic series Marvel Zombies, it is revealed that Ash somehow ends up in a parallel Marvel Universe and ends up being the cause of that universe becoming Zombified.
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To acquire more actors for the project, an ad in The Detroit News was placed. Betsy Baker was one of the actresses who responded.
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Made with a budget of $350,000 - $400,000, The Evil Dead made over 2.6 Million to date, maybe more.
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The biggest selling VHS release of its year in the UK.
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The crew initially attempted to shoot the film in Sam Raimi's hometown of Royal Oak, Michigan, but instead chose Morristown, Tennessee, as Tennessee was the only state that expressed enthusiasm for the project. T
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Sam Raimi was inspired by the fact that Brian De Palma was editing his own film Blow Out (1981) at the same sound facility.
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During a close-up involving Richard DeManincor's hand opening a curtain, Sam Raimi used his own hand in the scene since it was more convenient.
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In the actual cabin they were shooting in there was no basement so when ash is going down a basement he's going down a different basement. During the scene where you can see him walk upstairs through the holes in the stairs, you can see walls next to him.
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Director Trademark 

Sam Raimi: [3-stooges]
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Sam Raimi: [1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88]
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Sam Raimi: [chainsaw] Ash contemplates using a chainsaw to dismember his demonic girlfriend.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

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.
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.
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.
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. They then added a scene where a decapitated Linda tries to rape Ash near the end of the film to even the potential controversy.
Some critics have called the "tree raping" scene where Cheryl is raped by possessed weeds to be misogynistic, and even Sam Raimi regrets putting it in the film. Bruce Campbell admitted to regretting the scene where he repeatedly and violently slaps Linda.
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.
Sam Raimi said the way they filmed the last shot in the film, where the POV shot of the demon roams across the forest, through the house, and into Ash, they mounted the camera onto a motorcycle, and simply rode it right into Bruce Campbell at 37 mph. Campbell confirmed this story in 2015, admitting his numerous injuries from the experience, and that it was worth it, due to the franchise being critically acclaimed.
The scene where Cheryl is brutally raped by the possessed weeds is still banned in some countries.
During the premiere of Ash vs Evil Dead (2015), Bruce Campbell claimed that the final shot in this film where Ash is attacked by a surviving demon was achieved by mounting a camera on a tripod, then mounting that tripod on a motorcycle and driving it through the forest, through the cabin, and deliberately into Campbell. He also claimed to have broken some ribs because of this.
Ash was intended to die at the end when the surviving demon attacks him. This was later changed when Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell returned to make Evil Dead II (1987). They both stated they made this film to be recognized by studios, and to help them get a career in film. They sold the distribution rights of the film to New Line Cinema for an incredibly low price, because they felt there was no need for a sequel. However, they were able to do so, because they claim to have neglected to sell the rights to the storyline and characters.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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