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The Evil Dead [Blu-ray]
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170 of 179 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2004
This is one of the greatest horror films ever made. Some people may find the special effects work primitive by todays standards, but for a low-budget film as this is they are excellent and charged with a weirdly supernatural energy; something one never sees today in the big production horror films.
However, this review is mainly going to be about the picture format. Evil Dead was filmed in 16mm, which is a full-screen format, not widescreen.
BEWARE of the so called "widescreen" versions: Book of the Dead Limited Edition, and the other editions from Anchor Bay. Nothing has been added to sides of the picture to make it wider; instead the top and bottom of the film have been cut away to make it look like a modern theatre film. Instead of more, you actually gett less. In some parts of the movie this makes an important differance; in the close-ups of faces, parts like the chins are now gone (...); other important details also disappear, like when the trap-door in the floor opens and we look down into the cellar, the lower edge of the opening is gone, so we don't see the entrance in its whole.
The full-screen version is still available, with excellent picture quality, in the Elite Entertainment edition.
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64 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2010
A couple of months ago it was announced that Evil Dead was coming out on Blu-Ray. I confess that I was not very excited due to the fact that I had a copy of the HDTV broadcast of Evil Dead and didn't expect much of an improvement. Yet I decided to pick up a copy at my local DVD shop. With little excitement, I nonchalantly put the disc in my Blu-Ray player and sat back. Unlike some other Blu-Rays, this one had didn't have to take time loading and immediately went to previews of horror movies. I skipped through these and went to the menu. When the menu started playing, my spirits immediately were uplifted. The menu had the same music as the one in the Ultimate Edition over a nice collection of suspenseful moments in the film with a sepia filter over them. I decided to watch the full screen version.
The moment the movie started I was shocked. The once blurry and pink Renaissance logo and Evil Dead title were now sharp red. I was intrigued. As the movie proceeded, I was thoroughly amazed, this is and probably will always be THE BEST PICTURE QUALITY THAT EVIL DEAD WILL BE PRESENTED IN. I highly doubt that a film shot on 16mm can be up-converted beyond this; however, don't get me wrong, this isn't reference quality Blu-Ray, it's very far from it. There is plenty of grain that is inherent to 16mm film. Apparently Sam Raimi really did supervise this transfer well. It no longer suffers from the problems evidenced in the widescreen Anchor Bay releases and surpasses even the Elite DVD in sharpness. The color timing is spot on and is probably what was intended. For example, at the end, the sky is white rather than pinkish like in the Elite DVD. Additionally, reds do not bloom as in the Ultimate Edition transfer and HDTV broadcast. In case you are wondering, I did compare this with the aforementioned HDTV broadcast, and the difference is like night and day. It reminds me of the difference between the original Anchor Bay DVD release with the vastly superior Elite DVD. Finally, I am pleased to say that this transfer does not use HEAVY DNR (grain reducer) unlike the Evil Dead 2 transfer (which makes me hope that Anchor Bay will re-release Evil Dead 2 on Blu-Ray with a new transfer by Sam Raimi. The Dolby True HD sound mix was immersive and very impressive; although, I am disappointed that the mono mix was not included for purists' sakes.
After finishing the movie, I watched it again in widescreen with the commentary. The widescreen video is exactly the same as the full screen video quality, so I suspect Sam Raimi supervised both of them. The commentary was informative and had it's moments. Although I enjoyed it thoroughly, it is nowhere near as good as the Evil Dead 2 commentary, which is in my opinion the best commentary ever.
The Evil Dead is a horror masterpiece. Though lacking in acting, it makes Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street look like the comedies they really are. It showed that horror should have no boundaries through the very raw talent of Sam Raimi. This rawness resembles the similar rawness Stephen King (who incidentally endorsed this movie) used in his (in my opinion) best novel Carrie. It gets to our horror tolerance limits then breaks them. Bruce Campbell brings a certain charm and innocence to the role of Ash that makes his character the best male horror protagonist.
With that, I am glad to say that Evil Dead has finally gotten the release it deserves. Now, JOIN US!!!
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64 of 72 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 14, 2004
Even though it's been more than 20 years since its original release, 1982's THE EVIL DEAD is still an impressive marvel of low-budget filmmaking. It does have its palpable flaws, but this first feature-length directorial effort from SPIDERMAN's (2002) Sam Raimi, produced on a shoestring budget of circa $350,000, offers clever special FX, interesting make-up work, relentless shocks, and brilliant direction and camera work. And of considerable note to genre fans, it highlights Raimi's knack for pushing violence and gore to such an extreme that it becomes comic or farcical, a characteristic that is enhanced by the slapstick talents of actor Bruce Campbell (who would himself become a cult hero due to his work in this and other Raimi films).

The story involves a group of college students who, during a weekend getaway, find a Sumerian Book of the Dead in an old wilderness cabin they've rented. When they unwittingly unleash evil spirits and demons while reading incantations from the book, that's when the real havoc--and the real fun for the audience--begins. As each of the kids, one by one, are possessed by the demons they've loosed, body parts and bodily fluids go a-flying until only one young man is left to face down the Evil Dead. A simple plot with a simple set up, but Raimi and Campbell effectively milk it for all the scares and all the laughs they can get.

There are several editions of THE EVIL DEAD available on DVD, most of which come from the wonderful folks at Anchor Bay. Most are of great quality and offer beautifully restored digital transfers of this cult classic. The best discs also include feature commentaries from Raimi and Campbell.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2007
First off, anyone who loves this film knows, that the now out of print, "Elite" edition, has the best over all picture quality (just compare the scene where Ash gives Linda the necklace, between the two versions, and you'll see that the Anchor Bay version is soft, almost to the point of being out of focus, where as the Elite version is much sharper) and it seems that no matter how many times Anchor Bay, "Remasters" their print of, The Evil Dead, they just can't seem to make it look any better.

So what we have in this new, "Ultimate" edition, is the same old tired transfer of the film, this time in both wide and full screen formats (of which the major consensus is that the full screen version is the director's preferred aspect ratio, which is made even more evident during the commentaries for Anchor Bay's previous, "Evil Dead" edition (the one cropped to widescreen, but with both commentaries on the same disc) during the scenes where things in the picture are referred to, even though the widescreen matting on the top and bottom has covered them up, case in point, white rocks placed at the bottom of the cabin's front porch, which one of the commentaries refer to as looking like teeth, making the cabin look like a skull, are cropped out, in order to get the full shot of the large moon in the top of the frame (we where obviously meant to see both).

And as for the, "New" material, it consists mainly of a 59 minute retrospective, with no Bruce or Raimi participation (although Rob Tapert and the, "Ladies of the Evil Dead", along With the, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz director and the Cabin Fever, Hostel director, to name a few, pipe in through out) which doesn't really tell you any more info then you already know, and also a couple of, "Ladies of the Evil Dead" talk sessions, which although interesting, aren't really all that worthy of an upgrade.

Of Note: one of the, "Ladies of the Evil Dead" mentions at some point, having been at a commentary session with the other two girls, and since this commentary doesn't appear on this, "Ultimate Edition", DVD set, then it can only lead one to believe that another edition is in the works (probably, "The Ladies of the Evil Dead", Edition).

There's also a, "From the Cutting Room Floor" feature, which is really just a cleaned up version of the deleted /alternate scenes, which already appear in both the last Anchor Bay and Elite editions.

So, unless you can't get your hands on the, Elite DVD, to get the full screen version, want to see the, "Soccer Moms of the Evil Dead", are a completest (my particular affliction... lol) or just want to fork over more hard earned cash to the people at Anchor Bay, then this edition can be skipped, and you can begin to save up for the next edition.

Hope this helps :)
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2000
I spent some time trying to find this edition. You can find the Anchor Bay copy all over, but it is VERY lacking in features.
This DVD cost me as much as the collectors edition of The Thing, but it is SO worth it.
The bonus features include roughly 20 minutes of RAW behind the scenes footage. You can see the markings on the film go past the projector, no music, very basic. But it's very interesting to watch. In fact, many of the actors comments are left in.
Also, they include dozens and dozens of pictures. Some are just ok, others are pretty interesting. The theatrical trailer is a little different too. I've never seen that one before.
First, my biggest complaint is there is no wide screen version. Maybe wide screen versions didn't exist in 1982, I have no idea.
You can select two types of commentary. Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, or Bruce Campbell. Let me just say that I was very, very disappointed with Sam and Robert. They might as well have not even bothered. During the ENTIRE movie, you could just about fit BOTH of their feedback on a single sheet of paper. Worthless. At times they would go over 5 minutes with no comments. Doesn't that totally defeat the purpose? Both men are very quiet. I wish Elite would have just scrapped them altogether. I am very glad I didn't buy it for their commentary.
Bruce, on the other hand, gave EXCELLENT commentary. Just about every single scene he gives detail. He shows you mistakes, tells you how scenes were filmed, how far apart they were, and so much more information. In fact, I learned more about Evil Dead from his commentary than from ALL the fan sites combined. He did an outstanding job telling us how they filmed it.
On with the DVD, I can't imagine someone reading these reviews who hasn't seen it. My guess is that most readers will just want to know what the DVD has to offer. If you want selection, get the Elite version. The Anchor Bay version has virtually nothing on it.
The special effects look a little more fake on DVD, but I think just about everyone knows they were very low budget. Still, the blood and guts hit home. This is an excellent late night, weekend or whatever horror flick. Not for the weak, even with the low budget special effects.
As most readers will know, Evil Dead set a standard for its extreme use of blood and guts, bodily dismemberment, acts of killing, and demonic disfigurement.
The Elite version costs more than the Anchor Bay version, but if you are a TRUE Evil Dead fan, get the Elite copy. It is far superior. You will be VERY glad you did.
Did you know they shot in at least 3 different locations? Hal and Sarah (actors) were not their real names? Betsy Bakers character had several stand ins? That there was no cellar in the actual cabin? That many of the back to back scenes were actually filmed 6 month (or years) apart? Well, you'll find out.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2008
After so many reincarnations (Book of the Dead, THX release, etc), this is the Ultimate Experience in what is known as the Evil Dead.

My review is not about the movie. There are plenty of those already. This is a review on the latest release called The Ultimate Edition. With this edition, you get three DVDs chock full of movies and special features that should whet the appetite of any possessing demon that should come your way.

DVD 1:
This DVD contains the widescreen version of the movie in Dolby Surround 2.0, Digital EX and 6.1 DTS-ES. It contains audio commentary from Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert. Also included is a 50+ minute documentary called "One By One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga of THE EVIL DEAD". This new special from Anchor Bay interviews the cast and crew of the movie and goes into such in-depth detail of how this movie was made. Do you think you know everything that happened? You may and you may not, but you'll definitely learn more with interviews with Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker and Theresa Tilly and others from behind the scenes. The picture itself of the movie is as pristine as you can get it to be.

DVD 2:
This contains the full screen version in Dolby 2.0 and contains the commentary from Bruce Campbell. Again, wonderful, pristine picture and it also contains a 59 minute feature of deleted scenes and outtakes entitled "THE EVIL DEAD: Treasures From The Cutting Room Floor". There is no commentary with it, but still, it's a wonderful introspective into the making of this film.

DVD 3:
Wow. What can be said. This is just chock full of Evil Dead treasures that should keep you possessed. You have numerous features concerning the "Ladies of the Evil Dead". There are plenty of videos from conferences with the cast and crew, including a reunion panel, make-up test, trailers, TV spots, still gallery and more. Also included is a two-side poster containing the original "touched up" Evil Dead poster and on the other side is the original photograph before it was touched up. There is also an Easter Egg on the 3rd DVD that has a panel discussion after the movie was released in 2001 by Anchor Bay to a capacity crowd at the American Cinematheque in Hollywood.

Overall, this tops them all as far as what it contains. It is well worth the price to own this Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror. It has swallowed my soul!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 1999
bruce campbell and sam raimi even denounce how bad the acting and special effects are on the commentary track of this DVD which is hilarious as sam and rob tapert constantly put down bruce and the acting of everyone while telling intresting stories, i swear you will never look at this film the same again after hearing this commentary track. bruce campbell's commentary track is gold, instead of telling behind the scenes stories he's doing more of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 mock of the film which will have you rolling on the floor with laughter. the extra 20 minutes of footage is intresting, wish they could have found every bit and piece of film with bloopers and fiddling with the camera but this is all they could find. its intresting to see the attitudes of everyone on the set change as the shooting got more unconfortable and intense and its very funny stuff. the only thing this dvd is missing is Within The Woods(you evil dead heads know what i'm talking about) the movie made to raise money for this based on the same thing. this movie is a classic, and i'm very glad to see sam,rob,and bruce know its horrible film making, yes it amatuerish but hey, it was made by amatuers. get this DVD, its everything you could want from this film. then see part 2, coolest film since A Better Tomorrow and Taxi Driver.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2000
One of, if not the, biggest cult horror film of all time makes it's long awaited debut on DVD...and fans will not be disappointed. Elite Entertianment has brought Sam Raimi's EVIL DEAD to us in an impessive collector's edition with enough extras to make any deadite fan happy. First off, let's talk about the quality of the presentation. In a word: excellent. I've seen Evil Dead a number of times on video and I can safely say that i have never seen Evil Dead look this good. The film is presented in it's original full-frame aspect ratio and the print is extremely clean. The audio has been remixed in both a 2.0 stereo and 5.1 dolby surround soundtrack and I doubt that this film has looked or sounded this good...well, ever. The DVD also contains a number of exciting extras including the films trailer, a still gallery, and about 20 minutes of raw behind the scenes footage. The most exciting features, however, have to be the disks two audio commentary tracks. One is a very insightful track featuring director Sam Raimi and Producer Rob Tapert. The other track is the real gem of the disk. A seperate audio track featuring star Bruce Campbell. This is one of the most entertaining and funny tracks you will ever come across, as Cambell takes great liberties to make fun of the film, the director, and himself. I don't know what Anchor Bay's future release of Evil Dead will hold, but for my money, this is the best version of the film that any fan could ever hope to own.
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268 of 351 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2002
I have something to warn all purchasers of "The Evil Dead: Book Of The Dead" DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment:
THIS MOVIE WAS SHOT IN THE RATIO OF 1.33:1, WHICH IS FULL-FRAME TO FIT YOUR SCREEN. ANCHOR BAY SLAPPED 1.85:1 RATIO BARS OVER (I repeat, OVER) THE FULL-FRAME FILM!! IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME, WATCH THE ELITE ENTERTAINMENT DVD VERSION OF EVIL DEAD. YOU WON'T BELIEVE HOW BIG TIME COMPANIES WILL FOOL THE PUBLIC BY PRESENTING FULL-FRAME FILMS IN "WIDESCREEN" COVERING UP THE PICTURE!!
BUYER BEWARE!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2010
There have been tons of horror movies released over the years. Many critics have noted that the horror films run in cycles with the original films eventually downplayed to comic status (note the original FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA found there way to pairings with Abbott and Costello). That all changed during the 80s when horror films became more of a mainstream favorite and home video took off. Now horror films are playing nearly all the time in theaters.

But even those movies don't always elicit fan devotion or repeated viewings. Sure many people have favorites but a true classic stands the test of time and continues to offer goose bumps and nightmare ideas repeatedly. Such is the case with the Sam Raimi directed EVIL DEAD.

Released in 1985 (though credits often cite the release date as 1981), the film was a terrifying experience in a theater. I know, that's where I first saw it. The film was released through Thorn/EMI back in the 80s on home video and then bounced around until it ended up at Anchor Bay a few years back. Then Anchor Bay made it one of their staples releasing numerous incantations of the title, everything from special edition boxed sets to bound in the Book of the Dead cover (a main icon of the movie). Finally they've released the film on blu-ray. So is it worth going out and buying the new edition if you own one of the umpteen other ones? The answer is yes.

Let's get one thing out of the way first. The synopsis for those who haven't seen one of the many versions. The story revolves around two couples and a sister of one of the guys heading out to the country to enjoy a nice peaceful weekend. Scott (Richard Demanincor) is dating Shelly (Theresa Tilly), Ash (Bruce Campbell who also co-produced) is dating Linda (Betsy Baker) and Ash's sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) is along for the trip.

The five head to the secluded cabin that can only be reached by crossing a dangerously outdated bridge. Once they arrive at the cabin they work on cleaning it up and trying to settle in, unaware of the evil that resides there. It's not until the cellar door tosses itself open and the look in the cellar that things begin to change. They come across an old tape player and a strange looking book that they discover is the Book of the Dead. The house had belonged to an archeologist who had discovered the book and only realized too late that it contained a pathway for demons.

So what do they do? Why of course they play the tape that recites an incantation that releases the demons, the first of which eventually possesses Ash's sister Cheryl. But not until after she investigates some noises outside only to be grabbed by wild vines and raped by a tree branch. To this day this scene is still disturbing though not as graphic as many films released today.

The night proceeds and each of the cabin dwellers finds themselves attacked or possessed with only Ash tormented from beginning to end and never taken over. The film offers tons of gooey gore, slashed limbs, stabbings, gunshots and oozing gruesome goodies for fans but by today's standards...well yeah it's still pretty extreme at times. So much so that when originally released, the film was attacked in Britain and placed on the notorious "Video Nasties" list for films that were banned.

While watching this film I was listening to the new voice over track that features commentary by director Sam Raimi (who later directed the SPIDER MAN movies), Rob Tapert (who went on to produce TV series like XENA and HERCULES as well as most of Raimi's movies) and Bruce Campbell (who went on to star in TV series like BRISCO COUNTY JR and can currently be seen in BURN NOTICE), but in the background I watched the film. Having seen it numerous times I knew what was going on and wanted to hear the new commentary (which was great focusing on how they got the movie made). The thing I noticed while watching was that the movie still held up. It was still a frightening film. I could see that this movie would induce nightmares in younger viewers and perhaps even in some of the older one. It is still one scary flick.

And that's why it stands the test of time. That's why even after 25 years the movie is still an experience that will frighten most movie goers. Even sitting in your living room with the TV going it will be a scary movie with certain scenes that will elicit screams. There are few movies that leave images in your brain that you remember later and this is one.

One thing that helps I think is that the acting seems pretty good for a group of first timers or actors who had done so little. These people are believable in their roles and that makes the movie that more believable, even when you have severed limbs crawling or demons running rampant. All do a great job and its sad that of those involved on Campbell has gone on to more recognizable roles.

So as for the film itself, yes, it is one scary horror film and deserves to be watched over and over again. It won't make a difference how many times you watch; it will remain scary and give you the creeps time and time again. And that's the sure fire test of whether a movie is worth buying or not, if you can watch it again and again.

So what does this new blu-ray disc offer? Well first off Raimi supervised the reconstruction of the film from original prints giving you a great 1080p HD transfer. Kind of amazing seeing as how the film was shot on 16mm back in the early 80s. It also offers a choice of aspect ratios to watch it in, either a 1.85 ratio or a 1.33 ratio, both featuring Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio as well as the commentary track I mentioned earlier.

A second disc in the set offers some interesting things as well. The usual cover art/set photos are there for one. It also features some featurettes that have been available in past editions but are now brought together here. These include ONE BY ONE WE WILL TAKE YOU:THE UNTOLD SAGA OF THE EVIL DEAD, THE EVIL DEAD:TREASURES FROM THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR, THE LADIES OF THE EVIL DEAD MEET BRUCE CAMPBELL, BOOK OF THE DEAD:THE OTHER PAGES, DISCOVERING THE EVIL DEAD, UNCONVENTIONAL and AT THE DRIVE IN. Of these extras, THE LADIES..., UNCONVENTIONAL and DRIVE IN were all made in part a few years back at the Flashback convention held in Chicago where the cast reunited for the first time since making the movie. The three female leads continue to tour the convention circuit now and then under the Ladies of title thrilling fans.

So there you have it. A run down on a truly classic fright flick that is bound to give you scares. But make sure you watch it in the dark for full effect. And if you think that watching a scary film like this is made better by seeing it with a crowd in a darkened theater AND if you are lucky enough, it is making the rounds to theaters across the country again for midnight screenings. For die hard fans (sorry if you read this after the date listed) make a point of going to Dixon, IL, where Flashback is having another celebration of the film and star Bruce Campbell at the Midway Drive In on September 10th and 11th. Campbell will be there as they screen THEY CALL ME BRUCE, THE EVIL DEAD and its two sequels. You can also find make up effects coordinator and artist Tom Sullivan on the convention circuit, especially Cinema Wasteland in Cleveland. Look for the website of both conventions online for details.
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