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The Evil Dead Review

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Five teens go into the woods and accidentally release evil by playing a taped translation of the Necronomicon. One by one they turn into zombies - the evil dead.

★★★★

Punk kids with no formal film training (and more ambition than money) have always been drawn towards low-budget horror movies, most of them destined for Kim Newman's dungeon. But Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead reigns supreme, the knock-off drive-thru cheapie that became an iconic, oft-imitated classic.

Its reputation is deserved. Darker, and scarier, than its hyper-kinetic remake/sequel, Raimi's movie melds chunks of Night Of The Living Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and - bizarrely - The Three Stooges, into a tense, gory whole. Unbound by cinematic convention, Raimi unleashed his free-range camera, and ghoulish, omnipresent sound effects to create a bleak, paranoid atmosphere and a raft of sudden, effective shocks.

There's even a hint of the grungy edge that condemned the film to the infamous Video Nasties list in the mid-'80s: namely, the still-shocking tree rape sequence. And, if you can overlook the mostly lame-o acting, cheeseball effects and fumbling drama, there's enough fledgling genius here to fill another thousand horror movies.

The punk kids did good.

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