The Evil Dead is a 1981 American horror film written and directed by Sam Raimi, starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, and Betsy Baker. Raimi produced his earlier short film Within the Woods as a “prototype” to build the interest of potential investors. After asking a wide variety of investors, Raimi secured $90,000 to produce The Evil Dead. The film was shot on location in a remote cabin located in Morristown, Tennessee, a filming process which was very uncomfortable and difficult for a majority of the crew. The film is a story of five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a wooded area. Their vacation becomes gruesome when they find an audiotape that releases demons, who one by one possess each member of the group, leading to increasingly gory mayhem.
The low budget horror film attracted the interest of producer Irvin Shapiro, who helped screen the film at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. Author Stephen King gave a rave review of the film, which generated the interest of New Line Cinema who helped distribute the film. While a meager commercial success domestically, the film made its budget back through world wide distribution. During its theatrical run, the film grossed $2.4 million. Contemporary critical reception was positive, though years later the film built a much larger reputation. It currently holds a 100% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has developed a reputation as one of the largest cult films. It has been cited among the greatest horror films of all time.
The film has spawned a media franchise, beginning with two sequels directed by Raimi; Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992). It has received a video game and comic book franchise, and the film’s protagonist, Ash Williams, has become a cult icon. A remake entitled Evil Dead, co-written by Raimi and produced by Raimi, Campbell and The Evil Dead producer Robert Tapert is planned for release in 2013. The Evil Dead launched the careers of Campbell and Raimi, who would collaborate on several films together throughout the years, including Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy.