The Evil Dead (1981) Poster



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  • A Fake Shemp or, simply, Shemp, is the term for someone who appears in a film under heavy make-up, filmed from the back, or perhaps only showing an arm or a foot. Although use of the term is limited, it is frequently used in connection with Sam Raimi's movies.

    The term refers to the comedy trio the Three Stooges. In 1955, Stooge Shemp Howard died of a sudden heart attack. At the time, the Stooges still had four shorts left to deliver, by the terms of the trio's annual contract with Columbia Pictures. By this point in the trio's career, budget cuts at Columbia had forced the trio to make heavy use of stock footage from previously completed shorts, so the trio was able to complete the films without Shemp. New footage was filmed of the other two Stooges (Moe Howard and Larry Fine) and edited together with stock footage. When continuity required that Shemp appear in these new scenes, they used Shemp's stand-in, Joe Palma, to be a body double for him, appearing only from behind or with an object obscuring his face. Palma became the original Fake Shemp, although the term was not officially in use at the time.

    It was aspiring filmmaker Sam Raimi, a professed Stooges fan, who coined the term in the movie The Evil Dead. Most of his crew and cast abandoned the project after production went well beyond the scheduled six weeks, so he was forced to use himself, his die-hard friends Bruce Campbell, Rob Tapert, Josh Becker, assistant David Goodman, and brother Ted Raimi as Fake Shemps, and the term stuck.

    To this day, Sam Raimi's productions, both in feature film and TV work, use the term to refer to stand-ins or nameless characters. However, the description is sometimes modified in the final credits. For example, in Darkman, Bruce Campbell's quick cameo in the final scene is credited as Final Shemp, and Campbell also was credited as Shemp Wooley (a pun on singer Sheb Wooley) when doing the voice of Jean-Claude the Carrier Parrot in the short-lived TV series Jack of All Trades. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The cabin burned down not long after the film was made. It is not known for sure who or what burned it down. All that remains of the cabin is the tin roof, the hole dug for the cellar, and the stone chimney. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The first UK edition of "The Evil Dead" was released as pre-cert tape (pre-cert = pre certification) by Palace Video in 1983. Approx. 1 minute was cut. Shortly after its release, the tape became one of the infamous "Video Nasties" but it was delisted two years later. In movie theaters, the exact same version was shown.There is another version that's even heavier cut.

    The old British videocassettes by 4Front Video are heavily cut. Nearly all splatter scenes were trimmed and even though only two minutes are missing, this version can't be recommended at all. Thankfully all cuts were waived for the DVD releases of this cult classic. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • There's some sort of controversy concerning a scene showing a lightning strike. For example the US-DVD by Elite is missing this scene, because Sam Raimi didn't like the effect due to its poor quality. Nonetheless there are several releases throughout the world that feature this "lightning sequence" after all. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Yes. Evil Dead was Sam Raimi's first feature film, after previously having done 4 shorts. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • No, though it can depend on your own perspective. It is mainly a horror movie, but most of the violence is done in an over-the-top way. Some may find it darkly humorous, while others may be plain freaked out. Keep in mind this film was done on a very low budget and in the early 80's. Which makes the effects possibly considered cheesy by today's standards. The sequel "Evil Dead 2" seems to even acknowledge this and is more clearly a horror/comedy because the humor in it is more silly/cartoonish. The other sequel "Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness" is mostly a slapstick sci-fi/comedy. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • It encompasses The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and the beginning of Army of Darkness. It can be viewed here; Edit (Coming Soon)


The FAQ items below may give away important plot points.

  • The real-world reason is probably that when making Evil Dead II (1987), director Sam Raimi did not have the rights to re-use footage from The Evil Dead (1981) (as Evil Dead II was produced by another company). So the first 7 minutes of Evil Dead II (1987) are effectively a short recap of the entire first movie, featuring Ash and Linda but none of the other friends, to speed things up. The Book of the Dead also looks quite different, and its destruction is missing. This may have been done on purpose, because the makers had developed new ideas for the sequel, forcing them to retcon (retroactively change) the original backstory. In any way, as soon as Ash goes outside and is attacked by the demonic force, the story continues from the first movie. A similar thing happened during production of Army of Darkness (1992): the film was made by yet another production company, who wanted to make it as a stand-alone picture instead of an obvious sequel (the name 'Evil Dead' could not be used anyway due to copyright issues). The writers/director again used this opportunity to change the backstory, for the benefit of a more dramatic beginning of Army of Darkness. This explains why the opening scene of 'Army' is a reinterpretation of the final scene of Evil Dead II. Each of the Evil Dead movies has its own unique perspective, which explains most of the breaks in continuity. It has the added benefit that each movie in the series can be viewed apart, without having seen the other movies.

    From an in-story perspective, we see at the end of the second sequel 'Army of Darkness' that the entire story is being told in flashback by Ash to a bored and disbelieving co-worker (played by Ted Rami) back at his S-Mart job. This sequence is included as the final scene of the original cinema version, whilst the video/DVD/BluRay release ends with Ash awaking in a post-apocalyptic world but then has him returned to S-Mart in his own time after the end credits. Therefore we must assume the events we see in the last 2 films are based upon Ash's recollection which is likely to be far from perfect given his numerous head injuries, undoubted post traumatic stress disorder and the basic imperfections of human storytelling (simplifying the story, skipping over parts too complex to explain etc).

    Edit (Coming Soon)

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