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This review appears direct to the web courtesy of THE CINEMA LASER.


For years, I envisioned attending a Keanu Reeves film festival as The Ultimate Experience In Grueling Terror, however Sam Raimi’s horror classic, THE EVIL DEAD ($40), has a far greater claim to that title. THE EVIL DEAD is the story of five friends that take a vacation at an isolated cabin in the woods. Once inside the cabin, they discover an ancient tome known as The Book Of The Dead, as well as tape recordings of the incantations from the book that unleashes demonic forces into the forest when played back. One by one, the occupants of the cabin find themselves possessed the ancient evil spirits that turn them into deadly zombies. THE EVIL DEAD stars Bruce Campbell Ashley J. Williams, better known to fans as Ash. This Ash is far more serious than the Ash of the later films and not half as dumb. THE EVIL DEAD has far less humor than the next two films in series, but a lot more gut wrenching horror. THE EVIL DEAD was director Sam Raimi’s calling card, a film with an intense visual style that displayed all the promise that was delivered upon in his later, larger budget films. While made on a miniscule budget, this 16mm wonder is a better-made film than horror movies costing ten times as much. THE EVIL DEAD also features some very inventive special effects work that exceed the limitations of the film’s budget. In addition to Bruce Campbell, the cast of THE EVIL DEAD also includes Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich, Betsy Baker and Sarah York.

Elite Entertainment has done a great job bringing THE EVIL DEAD to Laserdisc. The transfer presents the film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and was personally supervised by director Sam Raimi. There are a few points where the image shows a some film grain and fuzziness that belie the 16mm origins, however most of the time THE EVIL DEAD looks quite good. There is respectable detail and the colors look fairly natural throughout the presentation. There is some bleeding of the hot colors, but they are usually pretty stable. The film’s soundtrack has been upgraded to full Dolby Digital 5.1 channel status by the folks at Chase Productions and THE EVIL DEAD sounds great with the re-mixed track. Of course, the track is limited by the fidelity of the original sound recordings. However, there are lots of little directional effects, as well as a respectable bass level on the track. The Japanese pressing is quite clean.

Elite Entertainment’s Laserdisc edition of THE EVIL DEAD looks and sounds great. Casual viewers can’t go wrong purchasing the "movie only" edition of the film. Die-hard fans, however, will want to hold out for Elite’s upcoming collector’s edition Laserdisc and DVD releases.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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