The Evil Dead (Remastered) (1981)
Menu Animation & Audio-The Evil Dead Journal
Audio Commentary-Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell
Featurette-One By One We Will Take You:The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead
Outtakes-Treasure From The Cutting Room Floor
Interviews-Cast-At The Drive-In
Featurette-Discovering Evil Dead
|Year Of Production||1981|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Sam Raimi|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|RPI||$34.95||Music||Joseph Lo Duca|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"Can They Be Stopped?"
Famous as the debut feature film for its director Sam Raimi and for its imaginative depictions of extreme violence and gore, The Evil Dead has been released in remastered DVD format by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Anyone familiar with horror movies will be aware of this film and its role in the progression of the horror genre. In many ways this film has become the blueprint for innumerable "video-nasty" films since, and progressed techniques seen in earlier films such as The Exorcist. Shot on a shoe-string budget Raimi showed what could be done with little money but a lot of skill and imagination. The disturbing sound track and audio effects, moody dark woods, manic over acting, creative camera techniques – these styles become synonymous with a Raimi production. The actors involved apart from Bruce Campbell might have faded into relative obscurity, however Raimi has continued to write, direct and produce prodigiously for both TV and film.
For those unfamiliar with the plot we have the requisitely attractive college students who travel into the woods for a weekend holiday. They are Ash (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), Ash's sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), and friends Scott (Hal Delrich/Rich Demanicor) and Shelly (Sarah York/Theresa Tilly). In the cabin where they are staying they find a cellar containing ominous artefacts including "The Book Of The Dead" and a tape recording with a message. Of course they listen to the recording which contains an invocation to some, yet unknown, terror. There is obviously something very nasty coming down as we experience what is presumably a demon's point of view as it stalks the cabin and occupants from the nearby woods. To put it simply the five travellers become methodically possessed by demons, with the remaining survivors battling to escape their zombie-like former friends.
Although in many ways dated The Evil Dead retains the charming menace (if that's possible) that made it a must-see thirty years ago. The acting is really bad at times, the special effects very low budget (witness the lightning strike), and some of the dialogue cringingly corny, but nevertheless there is something about the overall package that simply works. What Raimi did was create a classic horror movie and flamboyant style that became a blueprint for innumerable films to follow.
This DVD is presented in the "original" aspect of 1.85:1 and is anamorphically enhanced. An earlier DVD version has been reviewed on this site here. where there is an interesting discourse on the intended and "correct" aspect ratio. Although this is a remastered effort there is a significant amount of grain to be seen. I suspect the age and quality of the source material would not leave much hope for a better rendition. Shadow detail is thankfully very good given that much of the action happens in the dark or dimly lit cabin. Sharpness is acceptable with colours rendered well, especially in the daytime outdoor scenes. The blood and gore however wasn't quite the right colour, but that was probably a special effects issue rather than a fault of the DVD mastering. I could not see significant evidence of compression induced macro blocking. The opening and closing texts exhibited telecine wobble and were not clearly defined. Thankfully the significant film artefacts noted in the earlier review are not in evidence so I assume the restoration process has cleaned that up. Although unable to directly compare this effort with the earlier version I'd have to conclude that this version is much superior.
There are English, Hindi, and Italian subtitles on this disc.
This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change undetectable on my player.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is encoded at 384Kb/s with an Italian track also available. For an old film the surround effects are surprisingly effective although quite subtle. There are few gimmicky sounds coming from the surrounds but more of a menacing murmur – especially when the demonic point of view is being shown or in the forest scenes. Subwoofer use was also quite subtle with a low rumble in evidence much of the time. Voices are clear enough and in synch however the demon voices are understandably hard to decipher at times. The film score by Joseph LoDuca is good enough without being outstanding. This audio track is hardly reference quality and included here at a relatively low bit rate, however is reasonably good for the period and small production budget.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is animated with scenes from the movie and suitably atmospheric audio.
Audio Commentary by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert (producer) and Bruce Campbell. This is new commentary recorded in 2009 recounting how the concept was created from their initial reading of "The Book Of The Dead" at Michigan State University, and how this acted as the inspiration for the plot of a cheap horror feature film. They describe the story as it unfolds, and the filming and background detail that accompanies it. A minor criticism is that it would have helped if the speakers had identified themselves more often, however after a while you become accustomed to their voices. Needless to say the commentary is fascinating in itself and well worth a listen.
One By One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead. (54:46)
1.78:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio recorded at 192Kb/s. This is an extensive deconstruction of the making of The Evil Dead including interviews with some of the actors and production team. Although missing both Raimi and Campbell this is a compelling documentary tracing the films progression from concept to release.
Treasure From The Cutting Room Floor (59:23)
1.78:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio recorded at 192Kb/s. Film taken during shooting that was edited out such as scene set-ups and re-takes. Amusing to see the actors acting normally and then getting into character as a demon or victim. Quite interesting but the video quality is pretty bad with film artefacts galore.
At The Drive-In (12:04)
1.78:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio recorded at 192Kb/s. Cast and crew attend an Anchor Bay promotional jaunt spruiking The Evil Dead DVD in Chicago. Don't bother.
Discovering Evil Dead (13:05)
1.78:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio recorded at 192Kb/s. Interviews with English distributors of the film giving some information of the films distribution and reception in Europe and England in particular.
Make-Up Test (1:05)
1.33:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio recorded at 192Kb/s. Silent film of blood running and zombie head decomposition. Neither looks very convincing.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There are numerous The Evil Dead versions floating about but freely available now is a R1 "Special Edition" featuring the 1.33:1 full-screen aspect ratio. If you search you'll find multiple discussion on which aspect ratio is correct so I'll let you make your own decision. There is also a R1 three disk "Ultimate Edition" which includes both full-frame and widescreen versions of the movie. This widescreen presentation includes a Dolby Digital Surround EX and 6.1 DTS-ES audio track. There are also additional extras including "The Ladies of The Evil Dead Meet Bruce Campbell", a cast and crew discussion called "Unconventional", Q&A during the "Reunion Panel", trailers, TV spots, stills galleries, and horror movie previews. There was also an R4 two disc Ultimate Edition which seems to be no longer available. If you are interested in a blu-ray edition then Anchor Bay have released a two disc US version "Special Edition" which includes the full-frame and widescreen versions, and Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1. Extras on this blu-ray have the audio commentary as included on this review DVD, plus featurettes included on the Ultimate Edition DVD. The Australian blu-ray version is single disc 1.78:1 with DTS-HD audio. For The Evil Dead aficionados the US blu-ray version is the purchase of choice otherwise the R1 Ultimate edition DVD. For more casual enthusiasts this DVD as reviewed is a good choice.
Even thirty years after production The Evil Dead is a classic movie with enough blood and scares to amuse even the most hardened gore-fiend. Sure enough the special effects that horrified the baby boomer generation are now all very hokey, but nevertheless there is a nostalgic "charm" in seeing Ash and his friends splash around in fake blood and miscellaneous fluids. Only the totally unnecessary forest "rape" scene remains as distasteful now as it was when first screened. This restored version renders the video very acceptable and is a great upgrade for those with the previous DVD.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is very good.
Extras are comprehensive altghough there are better packages available.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Amplification||denon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp|
|Speakers||B&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub|