Ashley (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker) along with his sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) are spending the weekend at a cabin in the woods with Ashley’s friend Scott (Richard DeManincor) and Scott’s girlfriend Shelly (Theresa Tilly). The cabin is in an isolated part of the Tennessee woods. They travel over a rickety bridge to get to the cabin. Once there hey unpack the car and settle in.

Right away things get creepy. Cheryl is an artist. She is sitting in the living room sketching when she seems to go into a trance and destroy her sketch. Regaining her wits she keeps quiet about the incident. During dinner the trapdoor to the cabin’s cellar begins to rattle. The door flies open. Scott investigates. Ashley follows after him a little while later. In a far room of the cellar they find some strange ritual objects. Ashley finds an old hand written book. They also find a tape recorder.

Upstairs they begin to play the tape recorder. The voice on the tape says he is an archaeologist and has been researching ancient civilizations when he found what he believes is an ancient Sumerian version of the Book of the Dead written in blood. He came to the cabin with his wife to complete his research. He says he inadvertently resurrected an ancient demon. It possessed his wife. He says the only way to get rid of the demon was to dismember her. He says the demon cannot be killed. At one point during the tape the man recites an incantation. The incantation awakens the demon from its slumber.

Cheryl freaks out a little. Later in her bedroom she hears something out in the woods. She goes to investigate. She is attacked by the woods and raped by a tree branch. Managing to escape she runs back to the cabin and demands that Ashley take her out the woods and back to town. When they get to the bridge they find it has been destroyed. Cheryl realizes that the woods will not let them go. They will all eventually be possessed and killed.

“The Evil Dead” was released in 1981 and was directed by Sam Raimi. Much of the work was also done by Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert. Bruce referred to the three of them as “three schmoes in search of a clue.” They were college kids playing around making low budget super 8 shorts. It is your basic cabin in the woods and evil spirit horror movie. Done on a shoe-string, the film had a limited budget for special effects and, face it, special effects in 1981 were limited anyway. There are several things that make this movie scary, the hundreds of jump scares, the gallons of blood and the fact that these demon things just won’t die.

Sam was twenty-two when he made “The Evil Dead”. His youth is also a factor in the presentation of the film. Nowadays it would be classified as a home grown movie. It is a gross and gory film with just about every horror film trope you could think of. A film like that would appeal to perhaps teenagers more than anyone else and I’m sure that most of us saw it when we were teenagers, or close to it.

What saved “The Evil Dead” from potential obscurity and elevated it to cult status is Stephen King. King gave the film a glowing review which in turn resulted in New Line Cinema taking a chance and acquiring the distribution rights. Granted some of the effects were things that college kids would do but to King that fact added charm to film. “The Evil Dead” may not be a fine wine but it does have something that will keep it going. Rabid fans. And a franchise. Besides four movies there was a TV series, video games, comic books and in 2003, "Evil Dead: The Musical" debuted in Toronto, before moving onto an off-Broadway run in 2006.

When Betsy Baker learned that the producers were interested in having her star in a horror movie, she was so suspicious she would only meet them in a public restaurant. Two of the actors weren’t sure whether or not they wanted to be associated with the movie so they went by different names in the credits. Richard DeManincor, who played Scott, went by Hal Delrich and Theresa Tilly, who played Shelly, went by Sarah York. On the first day of shooting, during the scene shot on the bridge, the crew got lost in the woods.

The original script called for all the characters to be smoking marijuana when they are first listening to the tape. The actors decided to try this for real, and the entire scene had to later be re-shot due to their “uncontrollable” behavior. At the end of shooting in Tennessee, the crew put together a little time capsule and buried it inside the fire place of the cabin as a memento of the production. The cabin has since been destroyed and only the fireplace is still intact. Rumor has it Raimi burned it down. Inspired by William Castle, Sam Raimi had ambulances on stand-by as a publicity stunt at the film's premiere.