It is a well know fact among fans of The Evil Dead trilogy that, shortly after production, the abandoned cabin where the film was set was burnt down. Prior to the torching of one of cinema’s most iconic cabins, the crew placed a time capsule in the place of the film’s basement door; a cigar box containing a burnt out light bulb, a piece of gaffer tape, and a piece of paper containing a visual code revealing the true meaning of the film. The location of the cabin itself is kept totally secret by cast and crew, who claim it to be too dangerous to visit. The time capsule is yet to be discovered.
Not unlike the cigar box, The Evil Dead is a time capsule in its own right. Released January 17th, 1981, Sam Raimi’s debut came from the ground screaming. Through its ground-breaking low-budget practical effects and relentless horror, The Evil Dead re-defined the genre at the turn of a new decade. Not only that, it proved that cinema is an art form accessible to anybody. Using a skeleton crew built mainly of inexperienced friends, Raimi took to the forests of Morristown, Tennessee to make a film, surely unaware of the phenomenon it would become. It went on to gross nearly seven times its original budget and cemented itself as the pinnacle of the video nasty era within three years, maintaining its cult classic status over three and a half decades later.
As a landmark of independent filmmaking, The Evil Dead was partially responsible for an influx of independently made productions in the US toward the end of the eighties and throughout the nineties; with directors ranging from Edgar Wright to Peter Jackson citing the film as influential to their leap into the film industry.
Thirty-six years on from its release, The Evil Dead is still as scary and darkly comedic as it was in 1981. Sam Raimi’s infamous trilogy continues to live on at the heart of independent horror, keeping us cowering from the darkness between the trees and well away from reading haunted books made of skin. And if Raimi’s cigar box is ever found and the visual code is exposed, I hope that the piece of paper reads only one word beside a winking image of Bruce Campbell – “Groovy…”
The Evil Dead was released 36 years ago on January 17th, 1981