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|In the fall of 1979, Sam Raimi and his merry band headed into the woods of rural Tennessee to make a movie. They emerged with a roller coaster of a film packed with shocks, gore, and wild humor, a film that remains a benchmark for the genre. Ash (cult favorite Bruce Campbell) and four friends arrive at a backwoods for a vacation, where they find a tape recorder containing incantations from an ancient book of the dead. When they play the tape, evil forces are unleashed, and one by one the friends are possessed. Wouldn't you know it, the only way to kill a "deadite" is by total bodily dismemberment, and soon the blood starts to fly. Raimi injects tremendous energy into this simple plot, using the claustrophobic set, disorienting camera angles, and even the graininess of the film stock itself to create an atmosphere of dread, punctuated by a relentless series of jump-out-of-your-seat shocks. The Evil Dead lacks the more highly developed sense of the absurd that distinguish later entries in the series--Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness--but it is still much more than a gore movie. It marks the appearance of one of the most original and visually exciting directors of his generation, and it stands as a monument to the triumph of imagination over budget. --Simon Leake|