Christmas Day for horror fans, otherwise known as Halloween, may not be for another six months (!!!) but unlike their Christmas time counterparts horror classics can be enjoyed year round. THE EVIL DEAD, masterfully directed and written by Sam Raimi, and starring instant icon Bruce Campbell, is one such film that is a thrill to experience at any time, whether it’s your first or twenty-first time watching it.
Part of the fun with multiple viewings of any classic film is the things that you suddenly find yourself noticing or questioning. For me, The Evil Dead is the gift (of horror) that just keeps on giving, filled with plenty of tricks and treats (translation: fun observations and things to wonder about) that are worth sharing for your first/next time watching it. My personal list of (24) The Evil Dead tricks and treats are featured below in chronological order.
1/ As it makes its way down the road and we’re introduced to the car’s passengers (Scott, Cheryl, Shelly, Linda and Ash), in a quick close-up of actor Bruce Campbell (Ash) in the backseat, does he briefly look into the camera and wink?
2/ For no un-supernatural reason whatsoever, the chair on the porch swings back and forth, banging repeatedly into the front wall of the cabin. And while it’s not lost on Scott when that banging stops immediately upon his retrieval of the keys from above the locked front door, no one, including Scott, finds this super bizarre occurrence to be worthy of a discussion. (For me, that alone would have been enough of an incentive to start a campaign to return home ASAP, even if it meant hitchhiking on my hands and knees.)
3/ The cabin’s clock originally reads 5:20 PM and then stops at 5:50 PM-ish until hell night has concluded. At 5:20 PM it’s still light out but at 5:50 PM, a mere 30 minutes later, it’s completely dark outside. I’m not certain what time of the year it is, but that seems both earlier and faster than usual for the sun to be calling it day.
4/ Cheryl is sketching in front of an open window when a sudden wind parts the curtains and blows into the room. Given the resulting non-movement of her hair, either the wind died prior to reaching Cheryl or she packed an aerosol can of industrial-strength extra hold hair spray for the weekend!
5/ Cheryl’s involuntary sketch of the Book of the Dead (the film’s original working title) bears a striking resemblance to an early version of another victim of demonic possession, SpongeBob SquarePants.
6/ In the cellar, Scott and Ash are too busy discovering items like a tape recorder and the Book of the Dead to notice in the background the treasure that is the poster for the movie The Hills Have Eyes! (This poster is also a foreshadowing of the obsession with eyes in this film. You’ll see. No pun intended.)
7/ Oh, that Ash, what a sweet romantic, presenting Linda with a gift box with not one but TWO hearts on it; I suspect he designed the exterior of the box himself. (The slightly unusual gift inside, of all things a magnifying glass attached to a silver chain, looks like it was stolen from his grandmother’s jewellery box; either that or it was originally a Christmas cracker prize.)
8/ Cheryl is super freaked out when a tree branch crashes through a cabin window, but doesn’t hesitate to venture outside ON HER OWN, as a creepy fog rolls in no less, when she hears noises.
9/ While standing outside the front door, Cheryl asks “Is anybody out there?” loud enough for at least Ash and Linda to have heard from inside, but neither apparently do; or perhaps they ruled out seeing what’s going on with Ash’s hysterical sister in favour of enjoying some rare quality time together.
10/ Cheryl’s sexual assault in/by the forest remains a disturbing, original and classic scene within a classic film. (This kind of “wood”, whether it’s of the morning, noon or night variety, is no one’s idea of a good time.)
11/ Considering how long it takes Cheryl to eventually make it back to the cabin (while running with understandable purpose), exactly how far from the cabin did she wander in the first place?
12/ When Cheryl returns to the cabin, 3 porch lights can be seen; however, shortly afterwards only 2 appear (with the middle one out). Also either the colour of the lights change from red to white at different points in the film, or I suffered a mini-stoke while watching it.
13/ Why after when Scott retrieved the keys to unlock the cabin door at the beginning of the movie, would there have been a logical reason to return the keys to their original resting place above the door frame, on the outside of the door, before the weekend had ended? Lucky for Cheryl, though, that someone did.
14/ “Did you see her eyes?!?” Linda screams upon seeing a clearly demonically possessed Cheryl. I’m sorry, HER EYES? What about the rest of her messed up appearance and/or the fact that she was just levitating while speaking in a satanic voice?
15/ “For God’s sake, what happened to HER EYES?!?” is Shelly’s burning question upon seeing horror show Cheryl looking out from the trap door that is currently keeping her contained in the cellar. By commenting on the state of Cheryl’s eyes, albeit not favourably, when everything else about Cheryl is SO MUCH WORSE still demonstrates what a very good friend Shelly is.
16/ The cleanest, whitest thing about this entire cabin is the shower curtain.
17/ If there is a tall piece of furniture in a room, then with 100% certainty it’s going to fall on Ash at some point.
18/ While Scott is being attacked by Shelly, Ash does a swell impersonation of the Wizard of Oz’s axe-holding very still Tin Man. And whereas the Tin Man needed some well-placed oil to help him along, a swift kick in the Ash is in order here.
19/ I love the less-than-impressed glance Scott shoots Ash after Scott was forced to save his own life against Shelly while Ash did nothing more than stand by with his unused axe. Scott’s glance seems to convey the message “Thanks for nothing, fucker.”
20/ Shelly resumes her attack on Scott, who, again, is left by Ash to defend himself against her deadly advances since Ash isn’t lifting a finger (or that axe) to help Scott. Scott eventually takes the axe from Ash and finally puts it to some good demon dismemberment use. (I’m a little surprised Scott didn’t first test it out on the reluctant hero that is Ash.)
21/ Ash to a barely alive Scott: “You’re going to be okay. You’ll see.” A bad time for misplaced optimism, it’s like getting a pep talk from the coach of the opposing team in the final seconds of a life-changing game that you’re losing.
22/ Despite blood gushing from Linda’s open neck onto his face, that’ll happen with a spontaneous decapitation, when Ash eventually gets back on his feet and returns to inside the cabin, his face is much cleaner than it should be ten seconds after a blood facial.
23/ Scott’s nose suddenly appears to belong to that of a demonic dog, cat or Wookiee.
24/ OMG! Oscar-winning director and screenwriter JOEL COEN is the assistant film editor on The Evil Dead!