Thank you, Sam Raimi, for The Evil Dead series. Thank you for your passion as a director and drive as a filmmaker. It is truly inspiring to see low-budget films that are well-written and capable of wowing audiences through multiple generations. You inspire me as a filmmaker to push myself and my projects to the limit and make some damn great movies.
Oh right, HI! I’m MacKenzie: full-time actor, part-time podcaster, and a new writer on The Film Queue! (Thanks for having me, guys!) I’m really excited to get into this series because, as someone who has worked (almost exclusively) on low budget productions, I have a real appreciation for them.
Working on low budget films creates a sense of camaraderie with your fellow cast and crew, as everyone usually has more than one job. Low budget sets are very involved, and you really get to understand how much work goes into producing a film. I have helped with lighting, sound, editing, and producing films that I was acting in, and I wouldn’t give up those experiences for anything. Horror sets are great to work on, because you get a behind-the-scenes look at what people get scared of when seeing the final product. It may take away some of your suspension of disbelief, but it gives you a larger appreciation for the art of filmmaking: especially low-budget passion projects. I have always hoped one of my student films would gain a following like Raimi’s The Evil Dead, which is a solid introduction to a cult series that maintains (and expands) its audience to this day.
But why does The Evil Dead still hold up? What makes a film stand the test of time? [Admin’s Note: This might make for a good discussion in general…] Why do people love such a low-budget film series, even now?
Because The Evil Dead series evolved, and it was the combination of Raimi’s fierce directing and Campbell’s colourful (read: crazy), captivating performance that held my attention.
The series grew and expanded as time went on. The Evil Dead was almost pure horror, while getting funnier and less horrifying with each successive sequel. Evil Dead II was a comedic horror with sillier acting and funnier dialogue. Army of Darkness became a parody of a horror. The films evolved as the story did, and these changes are reflected through Bruce Campbell’s portrayal of Ash. He begins the series as a meek and nervous individual, totally incapable of handling the situation he has been thrust into (but I mean, wouldn’t you be? Come on, your friends are turning into evil, murderous hell-demons). As the series goes on, Ash gets his shit together and murders his friends (again… situational and all…).*
In each film, Campbell’s performance reflects the ever-changing genre of the series: as Ash gets braver, the movies get less scary.
Having worked on horror, comedy, and parody sets, I love that these movies had elements of each genre. I can only imagine how different each film’s set would be, but I’d be beyond excited to go to work each time! There is something so rewarding about being involved in every aspect of the filmmaking process. It is both exhausting and exhilarating to go to work every day knowing everyone is working as hard as everyone else to make your production a great one. So again, THANK YOU, Sam Raimi, for making a series that has inspired many new filmmakers: especially one that changes and evolves and expands to this very day. And THANK YOU Bruce Campbell, for your dedication to (and evolution alongside) the series, and for making brave acting choices.
* Full disclosure: Friends, if you become a demon bent on trying to murder me, you better believe we aren’t friends anymore. I’d be grabbing that chainsaw A LOT quicker.