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Evil Dead, The
10-11-2010, 09:38 AM
Review Date: October 11, 2010
Released by: Anchor Bay
Release date: 7/31/2010
Region A, HDTV
Codec: AVC, 1080p
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Full Screen 1.33:1
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http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb2s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb2l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc2s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc2l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33Itís tough to really approach The Evil Dead as one movie. Itís just become such a catch-all style for comedy-horror slapstick, one liners, wacky camera work and Fake Shemps that to isolate any one part does not do the whole justice. Maybe the other problem is that not only is the second film a sort of remake-sequel of the first, but between all three films, the story for the first film changes. In one it has Bridget Fonda, in another Ash is alone with a different girlfriend and still in another Ash has a unibrow and is with a whole Oldsmobile worth of buddies. The story is always different, yet all the same, always following the goofy S-Mart clerk known by all as Ash. Or Ashley, in the first movie. See! Anyway, itís been a long journey for the first film to Blu-ray after both Evil Dead II (from Anchor Bay) and Army of Darkness (from Universal, first on HD-DVD) were early releases in HD, but now the time has come. Anchor Bay releases The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror on Blu-ray with a bonus DVD filled with extras. How is it, and how does it compare to the half-dozen digital releases that have come before it? Letís swallow its soul and find out!
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot11s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot11l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota11s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota11l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb11s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb11l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc11s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc11l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33Although The Evil Dead certainly isnít a film heralded for its story, itís got a pretty fool proof formula with a surprisingly rich mythology. Itís the whole ďscary cabin in the woodsĒ thing, but with a kind of collegiate twist. Five friends decide to take the olí Oldsmobile out for a weekend wilderness getaway, and Scott (Richard DeManincor) got a cabin on the cheap. Before they even get there, though, evil seems to be afoot, as some unexplained force almost causes their car to turn into a head on collision with an old truck (humorously called ďLazy MaryĒ in reference to Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry). This may sound like a car movie, and indeed Sam Raimi and the boys had intended to make a car-picture before distributors told them that a horror film would be more profitable. Anyway, the group finally make it over a rickety old bridge and to their summer destination, but itís anywhere from idyllic. Just a humble, worn down shack in the woods that has a porch swing that never stops ominously rocking against the house.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot17s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot17l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota17s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota17l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb17s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb17l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc17s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc17l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33After turning the skeleton key to get inside, the group start hearing odd noises from the cellar. Alpha male Scott goes down to investigate, but when he doesnít return the rest of the groupís calls, cowardly ladies man Ashley (Bruce ďChinĒ Campbell) goes down to find him. There are no animals down there as some of the girls thought, but instead an old book and a recording regarding its origins and the theological history of the cabin. Apparently an old professor brought his wife up there years ago, and after she became possessed was forced into bodily dismemberment to preserve his life. In the recordings he also speaks some Candarian resurrection passages from his book, the Necrinomicon, or the Book of the Dead as it is also known. He left the recordings, and the fabled book for evidence, but itís a find the group probably didnít want to have. Could this quaint little cottage really be the site of Satan?
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot4s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot4l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota4s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota4l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb4s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb4l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc4s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc4l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33As day settles into night, Ashley plans on giving his lady, Linda (Betsy Baker) a ring, while Cheryl (high school friend of Bruce & Samís, Ellen Sandweiss) decides to go for a walk outside (wearing only slippers and a t-shirt, no less!). While walking, the branches come alive and tie her down before eventually raping(!) her. Try explaining that one to your friends. When she returns to the cabin she demands they leave, but the bridge has been destroyed and the group are forced to endure a night at the demonic site. Another of the girls, Shelly (Theresa Tilly, under the pseudonym Sarah York) is the first to be possessed by the force, stabbing Linda in the foot with a pencil in the process. Cheryl is quick to follow, as the girls are locked in the cellar in hopes this whole thing will pass. It wonít, and the group are in for a night of terror no book could ever contain.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot6s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot6l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota6s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota6l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb6s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb6l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc6s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc6l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33Itís odd to go back to the first film after having seen the progressively bigger budgeted sequels in the trilogy. For one, the iconic, one liner spewing Ash in the sequels is really just another camper, indeed heís actually a quiet little coward. Thatís far removed from his take charge, ďYo She-Bitch!Ē persona of Army of Darkness. The filmís also got a sort of rough, student-film like visual style. Raimi and his friends had cut their teeth making little handheld Super8 epics, and indeed this one has that same kind of full frame, wandering camera essence. Indeed, the core of Raimi, Campbell and Producer Robert Tapert had intended on shooting the film in Super8 and blowing it up to 35mm before settling on 16mm. This probably explains why so many people today are still enamored to the full frame, 1.33:1 presentation of the film. Now, if this review is rife with transgressions, itís because the film is guilty of the same kind of OCD. Itís a car movie at the start, a straight horror film for the bulk, and at times a comedic silent film slapstick. Sam Raimi loves movies, and you can see the influence from every genre being almost haphazardly thrown into the film in a stream of consciousness like fashion. It may not possess the gloss or many of the memorable tropes of the sequels, itís the wild, devil may care attitude that makes the film so iconic today.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot12s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot12l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota12s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota12l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb12s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb12l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc12s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc12l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33The visual aesthetic of the film is one of legend. The whole look of the force, by strapping a camera to a two-by-four and running it with two people at either end, has become a look inseparable from the film. The Coen Brothers, whom were friends with Raimi, with Joel serving as assistant editor for the film, even pay homage to the shot in their later film, Raising Arizona. Also of interest, Stanley Kubrick would go the Hollywood route of achieving a similar thematic feel the same year, by personifying evil by way of roaming Steadicams and helicopters in The Shining. Itís a look thatís become the signature style of the franchise, but thatís hardly where the style stops. Shooting with that light, mobile, Super8 mentality, Raimi moves the camera around every few seconds, always looking for a quirky, exciting visual. Whether heís hanging from the rafters for an overhead of Ash reading a book or going into the cellar for a POV from one of the deadites, he gave that 16mm Bolex camera of theirs a workout. Indeed, you could say that camera shed so much weight throughout the production it became an 8mm one.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot13s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot13l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota13s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota13l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb13s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb13l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc13s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc13l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33The 8mm approach memorably fuels much of the finale, too, with some gooey, creative uses of stop motion. The technique of painting black on the skin frame by frame to show the evil taking over the body looks really rad, and then that demonic decomposition at the end looks as organic as some rotten fruit in a compost. Even the plate shots, the most used being that infamous moon with black ink swarming over it, are of a style and creativity not seen in genre films before. Certainly not independent ones, at any rate. Although Raimiís stick-men storyboards would become a thing of legend, itís clear he had a grand and exciting storytelling vision, and, well, where heís at now commercially certainly affirms that. Small, short and shoddy, The Evil Dead is buoyed by an amazing visual resilience and energy.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot8s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot8l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota8s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota8l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb8s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb8l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc8s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc8l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33That energy also bleeds into the action for the film as well. The Evil Dead series is one that would become known for its jokey action, but itís in the first film that Raimi and Co. seem to actually stumble upon that style by accident. Itís clear they set out to make a dark, Exorcist-like horror film, and make no mistake, in many ways they achieved that. Watching some of the attacks today, the film still delivers some legitimately chilling moments. I think, though, in the process of having all their friends and family dressed up as possessed deadites thrown around and just put through the ringer that Raimi found a certain comedy in the situation. Rather than the scares that were probably intended, Raimi seemed to have noticed the thin line between horror and slapstick, and embraced it by naming all the extras as ďFake ShempsĒ in reference, of course, to The Three Stooges. As scary as some of the scenes are, itís tough now not to laugh at how many times Ash is thrown into bookshelves or other pieces of furniture, or at just how aloof the movement is of all the caked-in-latex monsters. Itís a film that gets it both ways with scares and laughs, but it goes about it through an organic, spontaneous fashion that the other films, or any of the imitators, just cannot imitate.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot10s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot10l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota10s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota10l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb10s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb10l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc10s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc10l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33Pure and simple, The Evil Dead is one of those rare lightning in a bottle movies, where all the elements, seemingly from every direction, somehow in friction caused a strike of brilliance that could never really be emulated. You see movies like Raimi-friend Scott Spiegelís Intruder, with its showy, absurd camera angles, or the deadite-driven Bloody New Year, try for The Evil Dead feel but come up short. For this ragtag group of college students, who in the fall of 1979 gave themselves without break for months to the medium, they poured an energy and a can-do approach that just seeped off the screen with Karo syrup. There are few horror movies as direct, exciting, absurd and enjoyable as The Evil Dead (and even less of them possess all of those at once!). Itís a horror classic that, thirty years later, still is in a demented league of its own.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot5s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot5l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota5s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota5l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb5s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb5l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc5s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc5l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33The Evil Dead has had quite the history on digital. First it was groundbreaking Elite Entertainment laserdisc that would serve as the basis for the first-generation DVD. That one was full frame, the way it was always displayed on video, with the tops and bottoms more open. Then came the bare-bones but widescreen and remastered Anchor Bay DVD that restored the film to a look it had not had for over a decade when it reigned supreme at the drive-in. That release memorably had five artwork variants that, when lined up, spelled ďD-E-V-I-LĒ on the spines. Anyway, between the two of those competing releases, there became a debate on whether or not the film should be in 1.33:1 or 1.85:1. Sam Raimi prefers the theatrical cut, but he, Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert also all acknowledge that the film was first screened at their college in Michigan in the full frame format. After a few more THX-remastered releases (including the awesomely packaged Book of the Dead edition) of the widescreen version, Anchor Bay finally let the fans have both versions with their Anchor Bay Collection Ultimate Edition in 2007. In that release, the widescreen release was on one disc and the full screen version on another.
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http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb18s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb18l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc18s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc18l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33Now weíre in 2010, and with the added space of Blu-ray, Anchor Bay has finally been able to present both prints on the same disc for fans to choose from on the fly. The best news? Whatever version they chose is going to be, without a doubt, the best visual presentation of its respective version ever released. Timed and transferred by close Raimi editor, friend and Box Office Spectaculars founder (and Grindhouse partner) Bob Murawski, this has been lushly restored similar to Murawskiís work with The Beyond and Cannibal Ferox. The colors are a lot more vivid compared to the generally grey, washed out look that previous iterations of the film have had. Itís clear in that first shot from the bog, where leaves now exhibit striking browns and greens, that shot-by-shot, this movie has been re-colored and remastered for HD.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot1s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot1l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota1s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota1l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb1s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb1l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc1s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc1l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33Even the opening title sequence, where the text never really stood out from the background, is improved with a little white edging in this release. There are a number of other tiny post enhancements along the way as well, with the bad matting on the plate shots of the moon corrected so the blacks around the moon blend in with the blacks around the sky for an almost seamless matte, or lens flares and hair in the gate digitally removed. It only took thirty years to pull off! Rather than just a competent visual upgrade, itís clear this was a labor of love. The other big improvement is in the clarity of the picture. The film is a 16mm blowup, and as a result has always looked soft on the compressed and limited-bitrate architecture of DVD. In HD, though, the added bitrate allows for the finer film grain to finally be visible, and the edges to be a lot sharper as a result. Itís amazing, really, how sharp the film looks, probably most evident during the tree rape scene where you can see the wood texture on the branches or the pores of Sandweissís skin. Anchor Bay took some heat for the softened, darkened mess that is the Evil Dead II Blu-ray transfer, but make no mistake, this transfer is in another league.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot16s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot16l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota16s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota16l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb16s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb16l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc16s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc16l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33It should also be noted that the framing on the widescreen version has been corrected shot-by-shot for this new release. On previous editions, there were times when there'd be too much head room or where actors or important set pieces would be cut out. Before there never seemed to be any care for the framing of the image, more just an arbitrary hack. Now, all the widescreen shots feel motivated and composed. It's also evident from the screenshots that both versions on Blu-ray have expanded picture information on all sides, with the widescreen version actually having the widest field of view. It doesn't make a big difference, but the compositions feel full and natural now, never cramped as they sometimes were before. Seeing what they've done with the widescreen transfer now, there really is no better way to experience the film.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot14s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot14l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota14s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota14l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb14s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb14l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc14s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc14l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33That said, The Evil Dead still doesnít look perfect, and it probably never will. The movie was shot on a grueling schedule with overages and reshoots so plentiful that the group canít even remember how many times they went back for pick-ups, as a result, itís tough to time the film because so often it seems the light sourcing is from a number of different color temperatures. There are still shots that have an odd yellow hue in the high tones, not quite matching shot for shot. There are still some light moments of print speckling, although the cleanliness of the transfer has been markedly improved over previous iterations. Itís not perfect, but how can a little movie shot in the woods on a shoestring by a bunch of first-time filmmakers ever be? Murawski, with this painstaking restoration, has made it as close as it can be to that lofty goal, though. For deadite fans, this is a must-see visual upgrade.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot15s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot15l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota15s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota15l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb15s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb15l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc15s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc15l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33While the film makes great leaps visually on this Blu-ray disc, audibly it takes a slight step backwards. Previous Anchor Bay editions had full channel 6.1 DTS and Dolby Digital EX remixes, while this new Blu-ray offers only a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. Not only does the track not get the spread that the 6.1 DVD tracks did, or that a 7.1 HD track could, it also sounds less robust than its DVD predecessors. Bass isnít quite as pronounced, evident early on with the porch rocker thumping, and dialogue doesnít seem to quite have the range it does on DVD. Also noticeably absent is the original Dolby Surround 2.0 track thatís been a staple for years. The Blu-ray weighs in at 38 GB, so there was still plenty of space to include the additional tracks that were found on previous releases. That said, the Ultimate Edition only ever had a 2.0 track for the full frame version of the film, so finally the fans of that cut of the film can now experience it in full surround. On the whole, itís a good surround remix with surprising directional movement throughout. They did a lot of foley work on the film, and the sound effects are still good and crisp and able to be pieced off from the main dialogue quite nicely. Still, itís a mild disappointment that the audio didnít get the upgrade that the visuals did.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot41s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot41l.jpg)Like with the audio, not everything from the previous releases is included here. Most notably, the two titans of early DVD commentary, one with Bruce Campbell solo and the other with Raimi and Tapert, are nowhere to be found. Those two commentaries have been staples since the Elite laserdisc and early Anchor Bay discs. Not sure why they arenít included here. The good thing, though, is that the three have finally all gotten together to record a brand new commentary for this Blu-ray release and it doesnít disappoint. The three seriously remember everything about the film and itís incredibly seasoned history. Itís really like one grand film school lecture, with the three trading insight, anecdotes and a little comedy about all the stages of the filmís creation and completion. They detail their beginnings, their work in securing financing (which is most revelatory of all for any budding filmmaker out there), the long and grueling shoot and the curious success of the film with its unconventional distributional pattern. At one point Raimi even comments how depressed he was seeing that his little film was out performing The Shining, of all movies! These guys are old buddies and work great together, and all three have a very broad knowledge of the industry, even outside of their vocations. Campbell comes off incredibly savvy regarding the entire filmmaking process. While the original commentaries will be missed, this one is definitely the best of the lot and one of the best Iíve ever listened to. In the future, letís just get them to do commentaries on every movie.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot50s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot50l.jpg)That about does it for ďnewĒ extras, but almost all of the extras from the previous benchmark three-disc Ultimate Edition are also preserved here. Notably absent, though, is the Bruce Campbell-directed feautrette, ďFanalysisĒ from the Book of the Dead edition. Also sadly missing is ďLadies of the Evil DeadĒ, which chronicled how the three actresses finally reunited and started to embrace the fan culture surrounding the film. Lastly, thereís also an easter egg where Sandweiss meets hers and Bruceís old drama teacher thatís also not included. Otherwise, though, everything outside of talent bios or cast pages (and the previous two commentaries) are included, and believe me, thereís a wealth here. Even the easter eggs from the previous Ultimate Edition are included. Thereís a lot here that fans should be familiar with, but hereís the rundown.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot44s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot44l.jpg)ďOne by One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga of The Evil DeadĒ is a nice retrospective on the history and legacy of the film with interviews with a number of people who donít usually get a lot of coverage regarding the series. The transportation captain and cook, David Goodman, speaks a lot of his memories, as does Josh Becker, the second unit director and lighting guy on the film. There are also some notable names not associated with the movie who talk about its legacy, including Eli Roth, Joe Bob Briggs, Greg Nicotero and Edgar Wright. People you hear from more, like the three ladies of Evil Dead and Robert Tapert also get their say, but Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are surprisingly missing. The doc is so tight in editing together all these great stories and observations, though, with many of them recalling Raimi and Campbell, you donít really have time to miss them. All told, a fun and informative fifty-odd minutes.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot43s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot43l.jpg)Even longer is ďTreasures From the Cutting Room FloorĒ, which has almost an hour worth of deleted, alternate or extended scenes from the movie. Considering the film is so iconic, itís pretty special watching all these memorable moments or scenes in rough or alternate form with Raimiís voice often guiding the background. The only thing that could have made this better would have been an optional running commentary with Sam Raimi, but hey, you canít win Ďem all.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot47s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot47l.jpg)ďLadies of the Evil Dead Meet Bruce CampbellĒ features the three actresses, Betsy Baker, Ellen Sandweiss and Theresa Tilly, as well as, yep, Bruce Campbell as they all sit around and discuss anecdotes from their time on set. They compare horror stories about the grueling shoot and the injuries they sustained, and talk about their relationships then compared to today. While itís called ďLadies of the Evil Dead Meet Bruce CampbellĒ, itís mostly Campbell that ends up doing most of the talking with his own stories. Still, itís always great to hear them. This one runs almost thirty minutes.
Half that length at fifteen minutes is an interview with the founders of Palace Pictures who distributed the film during its controversial run in the UK. They did both a theatrical and video run that would eventually get the film on the Video Nasties list and would find Sam Raimi in court. The duo discuss the filmís distribution history as well as their own history in distributing eclectic movies from the likes of John Waters, Werner Herzog and Jean Cocteau.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot49s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot49l.jpg)Also fifteen minutes is ďAt the Drive InĒ, which finds all of the original cast of The Evil Dead (including Fake Shemp Ted Raimi), as well as Tom Sullivan at a drive-in (err, bring your fold out chairs to a parking lot-in) screening of the film. Throughout they just basically give away DVDs, but do force fans to answer trivia questions or partake in some funny activities. Itís one of those pieces where youíd wish you could have been there rather than just watching it, but itís still fun. The companion piece to that is a reunion panel with all of the same participants at a horror convention. They field questions from the fans, and while none of the answers are particularly deep, they all have a lot of fun answering them and joking around, particularly Campbell and Sandweiss. Some of Campbellís anecdotes here are the same as those found in the ďLadiesĒ featurette. The whole thing runs just over thirty minutes (the convention organizers must have been pissed at that overage!).
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot48s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot48l.jpg)ďUnconventionalĒ takes a brief look at the fan culture surrounding the film (consider it a ďFanalysisĒ lite). It features all the participants from the panel, minus Tom Sullivan, as they sit around and gab about the quirks and qualities of fan conventions. They talk about first finding out about conventions and their reactions to the kind of people that make up the events and the various social observations they encounter, like signing the wrong name or adhering to line etiquette. Funny, truthful and filled with energy, itís a very enjoyable twenty minutes.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot40s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot40l.jpg)Rounding off the bonus DVD are two short outtakes from the previous DVD. ďBook of the Dead: The Other PagesĒ (previously an easter egg) shows the rest of Sullivanís book that didnít make it into the final cut via footage of Bruce Campbell turning the pages from an extended scene. ďMake-up TestĒ shows some deadite make-up and some blood tests as it trickles down a white wall. Finally, thereís a brief gallery with production and promotional stills, as well as the theatrical trailer and four TV spots. With nearly five hours of footage, itís tough to want much more. The additional DVD is being advertised as limited, and therefore may be removed for subsequent Blu-ray releases of The Evil Dead.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot3s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shot3l.jpg) http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota3s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shota3l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb3s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotb3l.jpg)http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc3s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/edblu/edblu_shotc3l.jpg)Bluray 1.85Bluray 1.33UE DVD 1.85UE DVD 1.33When you think of the classics like Halloween and Night of the Living Dead, what comes with them are often the slew of imitators. With The Evil Dead, though, it took a pretty simple concept, but injected it with such style, gore, humor and overall creativity that really there still arenít a lot of films to this day that can compare to it. Itís on its own wild wavelength and one of the pure examples of why horror films can be so magical Ė when young people have enough passion (and talent), they can make something that endures without stars or money. It just took dedication, and the amazing history of the filmís production and itís long legacy afterwards is impeccably chronicled in the hours of extras included on this new Blu-ray. The new commentary with the three men most responsible for the film is a must-listen. The visuals get a glorious upgrade here with a painstaking restoration that includes both aspect ratios of the film on the same disc. The audio is solid, if a slight downgrade from the previous DVDs, and completists may miss some of the extras that didnít make the cut this time around. Still, itís The Evil Dead, and this is by far the best it has ever looked. Helllllooooo lover!
Movie - A
Image Quality - A-*
Sound - B+
Supplements - B+
*Because of the quality of the HD format, the clarity, resolution and color depth are inherently a major leap over DVD. Since any Blu-ray will naturally have better characteristics than DVDs, the rating is therefore only in comparison with other Blu-ray titles, rather than home video in general. So while a Blu-ray film may only get a C, it will likely be much better than a DVD with an A.
Running Time - 1 hour 25 minutes
2 Discs (1 Blu-ray, 1 DVD)
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
English SDH subtitles
Commentary with Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert
"One by One We Will Take You" documentary
"Treasures from the Cutting Room Floor" deleted scenes
"Discovering The Evil Dead" featurette
"At the Drive-in" featurette
"Reunion Panel" featurette
"The Ladies of the Evil Dead meet Bruce Campbell" featurette
"Book of the Dead: The Other Pages" deleted scenes
10-11-2010, 06:03 PM
Great review Rhett. Just regarding the audio, the U.K. release comes with DTS-HD MA. I have the U.S. version also so will have to compare both releases later. The major downside is that the U.K. release dosen't come with the fullframe version and also is missing a couple of extras but the U.K. release has a Picture In Picture feature not on U.S. Disc.
02-11-2012, 04:39 AM
One mistake on the Blu-Ray version.
The girl that gets stabbed with the pencil scene,
the closeups of the girl screaming are flipped left to right.
The girl is now looking in the wrong direction.
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