“The Evil Dead” fires up in a really tiny, lake-like area, and it features a point-of-view shot that we’ll come to recognize as being the “evil” in the title of the movie.
Only… the evil hasn’t been invoked yet. We’re still twenty minutes worth of exposition away from the evil being invoked. So what are we watching, exactly? It’s like the opening of the movie is some dude’s home video of his pathetic fishing trip.
Then we cut over to our heroes – five college students (or college-age students, anyway) on a trip together to a cabin in the woods. For some reason. Spring break? On the run from the law after a five-state murder/robbery spree? Let’s pretend it’s the latter. That way we can root for the so-called evil! Hoorah!
I can’t say we learn a whole lot about the five so-called heroes, outside of their lust for death, destruction, and filthy lucre. We do learn right away that Ash is terrible at reading maps, and right after we get to learn that Scotty is a terrible driver. He claims that the steering wheel “jerked right out of my hands,” when he almost sends the car careening into a head-on collision.
This is, of course, man-speak for “I was taking a swig from the jar of moonshine I’m holding, and I was too busy getting my drink on to notice oncoming traffic.”
The kids confer with one another, and we add to our trip knowledge database. We learn that no one has seen the cabin they’re headed to, and that they got the cabin cheap.
They head off the main road and onto what looks like little more than a deer trail, and cross a bridge that actually has a sign labeling it “dangerous.” We are not, I fear, working with criminal masterminds.
No matter. Despite some shattered boards, the car makes it across the bridge okay, while some dude who probably wasn’t supposed to be in the shot looks on in the background. Way to insert yourself into a horror classic, sir.
They drive the car up to the cabin, and Scotty walks up to the creepy place while everyone else looks on. It’s clear that Scotty is well-liked in this group. Ten bucks says that if the food runs out, they eat him first.
Scotty locates the keys, which are cleverly hidden on top of the door frame. The owner, I guess, does not fear squatters.
Scotty goes in and takes a long look around, because the movie was made on a tiny budget and they need to kill some time before they start spending money on homemade blood.
Outside, the rest of the crew unloads the car. The highlight of this is when Ash’s own girlfriend throws a bag directly into his stomach and/or groin. Clearly, she’s hoping a little below-the-belt injury will occur. Ash will not be getting any adult relations tonight.
Scotty does a quick walkthrough of the work shed. I’m guessing he has special weekend plans for his lady-friend.
Later that night, one of the girls sits and does some sketching. After a few moments, the clock in front of her stops, a voice outside says “Join us,” and her drawing hand is possessed. It draws what looks like a somewhat evil book.
A moment later, the trapdoor in the floor starts bouncing.
A smart person would tell her friends that something creepy is going on. Alas, she is but one of a group of criminal non-masterminds, and there is nowhere else for them to run. So she figures, you know, why make anyone else worry?
The group proceeds to have dinner, which is interrupted by the door in the cellar popping open. Theories are offered, and finally Scotty is sent down the hole. To be eaten first. You can tell they love this guy.
After a minute passes and they don’t hear anything, Ash calls to Scotty. Only Scotty doesn’t answer. So Ash goes after him. So much for the feminist movement with this crowd.
Ash wanders around the basement until Scotty runs out and yells boo. Scotty follows up this hilarious joke with, “Come on, I want to show you something.” Really Scotty? In the dark basement, with the ladies upstairs? Couldn’t you have picked a better time to reveal your love-which-dare-not-speak-its-name?
Scotty takes Ash to a table, where they find a shotgun, a creepy-looking dagger, and a reel-to-reel tape player that will be replaced by an iPod in the eventual remake. Scotty, always to prankster, points the gun at Ash and says, “I bet this still shoots.”
So you see, making fun of my killers on the lam theory just proves that you’re ignorant. These people are three slices of bacon short of a complete breakfast.
Oh, and they find The Book of the Dead, which has a bunch of creepy drawings in it.
A short while later, everyone gathers around the tape recorder to hear what’s on it, while Scotty first makes fun of someone and says that everyone hates that guy, and then when one of the girls says, “Like you!” he replies, “I’m gonna break your face.”
Something tells me Scotty used to make neighborhood kids lick steel poles in the dead of winter when he was a kid.
They listen to the tape, which starts with an explanation that a) reading from the book will raise the dead, and b) that evil demon-like beings are never truly dead. I guess “The Evil Semi-Living” doesn’t have much of a ring to it.
The tape plays, incantations are read aloud, creepy lights appear outside, Cheryl freaks and a branch breaks a window. So much for a cheap vacation – that window is gonna cost someone some scratch.
Ash and Linda decide to “stay up and listen to the storm,” only Linda exits to check on Cheryl, and Ash feigns sleep while holding a box. Linda tries to take the box from a “sleeping” Ash, and we learn that Ash has no problem with tricking his lady into stealing from him, and Linda has no problem stealing from him.
Criminal non-masterminds, folks.
Ash “wakes up,” the box is opened, and we learn that Ash has gotten a necklace for Linda that looks just like a magnifying glass. Linda notes that she’ll “never take it off,” but does not add that this is because she intends to use it as a centerpiece of mockery when she talks to her girlfriends later.
Now we know why she was so eager to give him a groin injury earlier.
Outside, we get the evil point of view, which watches Linda and Ash, then Scotty and Shelly, and finally settles on Cheryl, to whom it says, “Join us.”
Cheryl, who got a lot of ribbons that said, “Participant” as a child, heads into the woods to investigate the noise. This ends badly, with the woods, um… yikes… let’s go with “brutalizing” Cheryl in a most unpleasant way.
Cheryl gets free and runs back to the cabin, where after some crazy babbling she convinces Ash to take her into town. Only the bridge has been ripped up by the evil force. Or by that dude who was in the background earlier.
Either way, Cheryl freaks right out. But she’s had a bad night, so you can sympathize.
Back at the cabin, Ash slaps on some headphones and listens to the rest of the tape, and learns that the only way to stop the demons is through the act of bodily dismemberment. Luckily, his soul is as dark as a moonless night, and he’s just crossing his fingers that Scotty is taken first.
Because, of course, Linda gave him a groin injury, and Cheryl is his sister. So the only way to really make this whole trip worth his time is if Shelly is in need of a little comforting.
Speaking of Shelly, she and Linda are playing a game of “guess which card I’m holding up,” because comforting a woods-molested Cheryl just isn’t worth their time. Cheryl suddenly starts guessing the cards, and getting them all correct, which seems awesome until she turns out and everyone notices that she’s possessed.
The possessed Cheryl asks why “they” have been “awakened from their ancient slumber,” so maybe it’s not that the evil is all that evil, but rather they’re just kind of cranky about getting up so late at night.
Though I don’t suppose that “The Somewhat-Sleepy Semi-Living” would make for much of a title either.
Anyway, Cheryl falls to the floor, her so-called “friends” go to investigate, and she stabs Linda in the ankle with a pencil.
Then she throws Ash into a bookshelf, which falls on top of him.
Scotty pushed Cheryl into the cellar the cellar door with a conveniently-placed chain and lock that just happen to be sitting there when he needs them most.
Linda goes to lie down, and Ash, Scotty, and Shelly sit around and debate what to do. This ends when Shelly goes into another room and the evil pulls her through the window.
Scotty goes to investigate and finds that his girlfriend is missing. So instead of calling Ash into the room and going to find the shotgun, he instead opts to wander around the room looking for her.
Scotty has a few “Participant” ribbons himself.
Eventually a Shelly with a sever case of possession grabs Scotty, and tussling occurs. Scotty pushes Shelly over, and she falls into the fire. He pulls her out, because he is an idiot, and she attacks him again.
Ash attempts to help, only he’s thrown into a bookshelf. Again.
Shelly picks up the creepy knife from earlier and tries to stab Scotty with it, and Scotty fights back with a knife of his own, slicing into Shelly’s wrist.
Shelly then decides to bite off her own hand, to prove that she’s, like, a demon, and totally hardcore.
Scotty then picks up the evil hand with the evil knife in it, and stabs Shelly in the back. Because that’s what Scotty does.
A brief thought: Five people enter a cabin. Three of them are women, all of who seem kind of nice. Two of them are men, one of which is a total jerkface and the other of which has been, to date, thrown into two bookshelves and received a groin attack from his own significant other.
Meanwhile, two of the ladies are possessed by evil, and the third has dying of lead poisoning. Sorry. Graphite poisoning.
I ask you. What kind of message does this send to the youth of America?
Shelly, by the way, dies. And then of course, we learn that she didn’t really die, because she gets up and attacks Scotty again. So Scotty takes an axe and chops her into pieces.
Of course, given what we know of Scotty, this isn’t the first time one of his relationships ended this way.
Scotty decides it would be a good idea to bury Shelly, even though it’s still dark out, the woods are still evil, and Shelly’s bits and pieces are still flopping on the floor. Ash counters with, “We can’t bury Shelly, she’s a friend of ours.”
Which makes it sound as if, generally, Ash has his close friends stuffed on the occasion of their passing.
His collection of stuffed dead friends and relatives is, I’m sure, just one of many reasons that this small band of criminals is on the run, forced to hide out in a cheap cabin deep in the mountains.
(If you think I’m going to give up on that joke soon, you, sir or madam, are wrong.)
Scotty and Ash bury Shelly, and Scotty says he’s going to head out into the woods to look for a way out. Dude has a serious death wish. As a parting shot, he notes that Ash’s girlfriend is Ash’s problem.
Everyone, say it with me. “Woods! Woods! Woods! Woods!”
Ash goes to check on Linda, and to no one’s surprised, she’s possessed.
Ash runs away from her, having realized that a whack to the jimmies might soon be the nicest thing Linda will do to him now
He gets jumped by Scott at the front door.
Scott is torn up badly, having been attacked by the forest. He starts to panic, and then passes out. Ash slaps him awake. And the audience cheers, because Scotty’s been needing a slap for a while now.
Meanwhile, a possessed Linda starts taunting Ash. He slaps her across the face a few times, and then points the shotgun at her. Only she “wakes up,” and runs to him.
At that moment, Cheryl’s voice calls from the cellar, saying she’s all right. Ash goes to unlock her, and her still-possessed arms shoot up through the floor, attacking him.
He breaks free of Cheryl’s grasp, and sees that Linda is full-on possessed again. So he drags her outside. It is doubtful that this will prove an effective method of solving his problems.
Back inside, Ash tries to make Scotty drink some water, only Scotty dies. Ash gets up and goes to the window, I guess looking for something to stuff Scotty with, when Linda appears out of nowhere and stabs him with the evil knife.
She does not stab him in the groin, which he probably views as an improvement to their day-to-day relationship.
Linda and Ash tussle, and finally Ash stabs her in the back, and then takes her out into the tool shed to chop her up with a chainsaw. Only he can’t do it, because he’d much rather see her stuffed and mounted.
Only he forgot his tools at home, so he decides to bury her instead. Of course, she’s only semi-dead, so she crawls out of her grave and attacks him. He fights back, cutting off her head with a shovel. This does not prevent her from shrieking.
Ash goes back into the house, where he notes that the cellar door is now open, and Cheryl is missing.
He picks up the shotgun and goes to look for her. Apparently, he is capable of learning.
Cheryl, it seems, it outside. She attacks Ash when he walks too near a window, and he reacts by fighting her off and closing the doors to the cabin. Then he heads down into the cellar in search of shotgun shells.
He does locate them, after various things bleed on him, including the walls, some pipes, and the inside of a light bulb.
Ash reloads the shotgun and heads upstairs, skulking through the house as his paranoia builds. “Why,” he wonders, “did I ever begin my life of crime? I should have known it would end with my friends dead, and me trapped in a deserted cabin in the woods, surrounded by evil semi-sleepy beings from beyond the near-grave.”
Eventually he flips out and shoots and innocent window.
He then leans against an outside door, which allows the evil creature behind it to punch through the door and grab at Ash’s face.
Ash escapes and shoves something not-very-heavy in front of the door, which might protect him for minutes on end. Unfortunately for him, the now-possessed Scotty sits up on the floor.
Ash and Scotty fight, and Ash punches through Scotty’s eyeballs with his thumbs. Then Ash pulls a branch out of Scotty’s thigh, causing Scotty to bleed out on the floor.
But, of course, Scotty is technically already dead, so this doesn’t have much of an effect.
Cheryl punches through the door, and Ash is grabbed by Scotty. Ash falls to the floor, having noted that Scotty has started to smoke – because the Book of the Dead has fallen partially into the fire, and tiny flames are licking up from one of its edges.
Despite the fact that it looks like it would be the easiest thing in the world for Ash to stand up, grab the book, and toss it in the fire, for the sake of suspense we must watch him attempt to lasso the book using the magnifying glass on a chain that he gave his man-bits-hitting-woman-friend earlier in the picture.
Ash accomplishes this while Scotty yanks on his ankle and Cheryl picks up a fire poker and hits him with it.
Ash throws The Book of the Dead into the fire, and Cheryl and Scotty melt into somewhat-tired not-quite-dead goo.
Ash sees that the sun has come out, and he picks up his buddy the necklace and walks outside. Only an evil point-of-view shot comes running down a hill and through the back door of the cabin and out the front door of the cabin, and straight into Ash.
Who of course dies, so there will never be a sequel.