While Sam Raimi is still producing movies like Crawl today, the director is most known for creating The Evil Dead. The series is known for spawning one of the most recognizable characters in horror, Ash Williams, but the film is also known for its over-the-top gore.
Despite Ash vs Evil Dead ending in 2015 and Bruce Campbell retiring Ash, the franchise may still continue with Raimi exploring ideas for a new film. The original movie was released nearly 40 years ago, but there are some things that even diehard fans might not know about The Evil Dead. Here are 10 BTS Facts About The Evil Dead.
10 The Cast Got Stoned While Filming
Ash vs. Evil Dead revealed that Ash had experimented with a number of drugs over the years, but the cast from the original film actually smoked marijuana while on set. The cast apparently smoked weed while filming the scene where they listen to Professor Knowby’s tape, but the footage couldn’t be used because the actors were too stoned.
While on Conan, Campbell admitted they all smoked weed because they heard Jack Nicholson had gotten really high while filming Easy Rider. Campbell further explained, “And I had never smoked before. I was 21, and… we also found out that the weed in Tennessee was pretty good, apparently. And so we did not really film the scene successfully.”
9 They Made A Short Film First
While all horror buffs have at least heard of The Evil Dead, some people might not know that Sam Raimi first made a short film called Within the Woods. The film starred Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Mary Valenti, and Scott Spiegel and had the same basic premise as The Evil Dead.
Within the Woods also got a small release in 1978 alongside The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Eventually, Raimi was able to receive enough funds to start production on a feature-length remake and the rest is history. Within the Woods never got a commercial release, but the fans can find bootleg versions online.
8 The Cabin Has A Dark History
The events depicted in The Evil Dead are quite horrific, but the cabin they filmed in also has a dark history in real life. Back in the ‘80s, Raimi revealed that a man had built the cabin about 100 years prior, but died a week after he finished building it. Some years later, a grandmother, mother, and a young girl moved into the cabin. Lightning would often strike around the area since the iron ore in the mountains would attract the lighting.
One night the young girl became frightened by a storm and went to her mother’s room, only to find her dead. She then went to her grandmother’s room and also found her dead that same night. The girl wandered to a local farmhouse, the residents of which then raised her, but had to deal with her wandering around the woods whenever there was a thunderstorm. To make matters even stranger, a bolt of lightning burnt the Evil Dead cabin down a week after Raimi and his crew had finished filming in it.
7 Sam Raimi And Bruce Campbell Were High School Friends
Many times in the film industry people are forced to work with people they don’t know or don’t particularly like, but that wasn’t the case for The Evil Dead. The Evil Dead wasn’t the first film Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell had worked on together. In fact, Raimi and Campbell had been good friends since their high school days when they attended Wylie E. Groves High School in Michigan.
The two had made several Super 8 films together before and Campbell was chosen as the actor for The Evil Dead since he was the attractive one in their friend group.
6 Betsy Baker Was Suspicious Of The Filmmakers
Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi are well known in Hollywood today, but back in the late ’70s early ‘80s, nobody had really heard of them. Because of this Betsy Baker (who played Linda in The Evil Dead) was originally very suspicious of the filmmakers.
When she heard of their interest in having her play Linda, she agreed to meet with the producers, but only at a public restaurant. It may seem silly today since The Evil Dead is such a well-known horror movie, but being offered a role in a movie that takes place in a haunted cabin in the middle of the woods does sound like a pretty good reason to be apprehensive.
5 Campbell Earned The Title Co-Producer
Raimi wrote, directed, and produced The Evil Dead, but the star of the movie is also listed in the credits as a producer. Bruce Campbell was given the title of executive producer because he used some of his family’s property as collateral to finish making the film.
Additional funds were needed to finish filming, but also to get the film on 35mm so that it could be theatrically released. It’s not every day you hear about that kind of contribution, but it just goes to show how much of a team effort making The Evil Dead really was.
4 Stephen King Endorsed The Film
By the time The Evil Dead was released in 1981, a couple of Stephen King’s novels had been adapted for film including Carrie and The Shining. Even before these had been released, King had become a well-regarded author in the horror genre, which meant his endorsement of The Evil Dead was a big deal for Sam Raimi.
When King saw the movie at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982, King wrote a review for the film which contained the quote, “The most ferociously original horror film of 1982”. The quote was then used in the marketing for the film, but King’s full review of The Evil Dead arguably saved the movie, if not Raimi’s whole career.
3 It Was Almost Titled “Book Of The Dead”
Lots of ideas from Sam Raimi’s 1978 short film Within the Woods were pulled into The Evil Dead, but the title did not. Raimi and co wanted to name the movie Book of the Dead, but it was producer Irvin Shapiro who suggested the title be changed to The Evil Dead.
Book of the Dead is, of course, a reference to the Necronomicon; the ancient book bound in human flesh that is used to summon demons. The Necronomicon has become one of the most iconic symbols of the Evil Dead franchise, but most would agree that The Evil Dead has a better ring to it.
2 They Got Creative With Camera Movement
While the Steadicam was released prior to Sam Raimi creating The Evil Dead, Raimi didn’t have enough money to use the camera stabilizer in his film. Instead, Raimi created the “shaky cam” technique, which gave The Evil Dead its unique look. A couple of different rigs were built to produce creative movements including the shaky cam, the ram-o-cam, and the vas-o-cam.
The iconic shot of the evil floating through the woods was created by attaching the camera to a wooden board and then having two people run while holding onto the board. Additionally, the ram-o-cam was built to smash windows with a T-bar before the camera went through them and the vas-o-cam utilized Vaseline and a sawhorse to create a smooth trucking movement.
1 The Cast Was A Lot Bigger Than It Seems
The cast of The Evil Dead seems relatively small, with Ash, Cheryl, Scotty, Linda, and Shelly being the only real characters. That being said, there are actually over 20 people credited as cast members. Due to the film’s small budget, the working conditions on The Evil Dead weren’t the greatest and actors even occasionally got injured. Betsy Baker’s eyelashes got torn out from the makeup removal process and the contact lenses used for the deadite transformation were extremely uncomfortable.
Slowly but surely, the actors started leaving the set until only Campbell and the filmmakers remained. Sam, Ted, and Ivan Raimi, as well as Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, got their friends to stand in for the actors that had left, which they were able to get away with since the actors had to be caked in so much makeup. These people are credited as “Fake Shemps”, which is a reference to The Three Stooges.