By Raymond Knowby

Take elements from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE EXORCIST, and subtle nudges to The Three Stooges, swirl them together, and you might just end up with Sam Raimi’s THE EVIL DEAD.

An ultra-low budget scare fest with a minimal story has five college Michigan college students (Hal Delrich, Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Sarah York) heading to the most isolated outback cabin you can imagine to spend a weekend partying. Within the first fifteen minutes of the flick, Scottie (Delrich) and Ashley (Campbell) find a tape recorder and ancient Sumarian text called the Necronomicon buried deep within the basement.

Playing back the recorder tells us that the tome is the “Book of the Dead”, of course, and with a few fancy spoken incanations all hell breaks loose on the kids. A tree rapes one of the girls, the only bridge out of the mountains crumbles apart, and one by one dark spirits begin to possess the living, turning them into Linda-Blair looking nasties. Expect some shocking make-up effects and gore (ankle stabbed with pencil–and particularly, a de-limbing sequence with an ax) and some of the most inventive camera work ever anchored into cinema, 16mm or otherwise.

Raimi’s opus feature is a knock out–at once gaining cult status and remaining a personal midnight favorite of mine to date. It’s the scariest and most serious “horror” picture of the three EVIL DEAD movies, and it delivers. First time composer Joe LoDuca comes up with a hellishly disturbing score that only adds to the charm of this black thriller.

It wants out of the basement in THE EVIL DEAD.