We Bought a Zoo
A widowed father played by Matt Damon moves to the South Californian country and purchases a zoo with his family
On Film4: 31 Aug 6:25PM
Self-proclaimed as "the ultimate experience in gruelling terror", this was the blood-spurting, flesh-tearing surprise hit of the 1980s that launched Sam Raimi's career and spawned two sequels
The Evil Dead spends the first 20 minutes setting up the simple tale of five alarmingly stupid students spending the weekend in an isolated cabin somewhere in the Tennessee woodlands. They discover an old tape recorder in the basement and all sit round to listen to the strange ramblings of a professor who claims to have discovered a 'Book of the Dead'. Unwittingly they are awakening a demonic force within the woods.
A relentless and unforgettable excess of blood and guts erupts as all but one of the group, Ash (Campbell), turn into ooze-dribbling, limb-dismembering, pencil-stabbing monsters.
This low-budget 16mm feature was originally started in 1979 as 'Book Of The Dead' and shot in Tennessee, with additional footage filmed later in Michigan. The film was eventually finished for $90,000.
Raimi and his childhood friend Campbell had been making 8mm films together for years and it was one of these, the horror short 'Within the Woods', that helped to raise finance for The Evil Dead. It was released first in the UK by Palace Pictures and soon found its audience, helped no doubt by Stephen King's promise that it was "the most ferociously original horror film of the year".
A young Joel Coen, the future directing half of the dynamic duo, worked as assistant editor on the film. Raimi followed the original up in 1987 with a bigger budgeted and even bloodier comedy remake Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn, completing the trilogy in 1992 with the more lightweight Army Of Darkness: The Medieval Dead.
In a nutshell: Energetic, original and icky, Raimi's splat-stick debut is a tight little horror classic that deserves its cult reputation, despite the best efforts of the censors.
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