As we’ve been revving up our chainsaws in preparation for Ash vs. Evil Dead, yesterday’s brand new teaser trailer reminded us exactly why Evil Dead is one of the most popular and enduring franchises. From outrage in the UK during the ‘video nasty’ era, to the ultimate self aware horror in Dead By Dawn, to the recent gory remake, the deadites have an interesting history. Let’s have a look at ten pieces of Evil Dead trivia you might not have known about the franchise.
10. The medieval setting of Army of Darkness was originally intended for Dead by Dawn.
Originally, Dead by Dawn was intended to be closer to the final form of Army of Darkness. It was supposed to be set in the year 1300, and be a medieval epic rather than a straight horror film. The script was a mix of the comedic and the serious, but was ultimately reworked due to budget constraints.
9. Most of the Evil Dead remake was shot in order
Whatever your opinions on the remake are, you have to admire the level of commitment to the project. Just as in the original, the horror unfolds and becomes more extreme and gruesome as the story progresses. This results in a lot of blood and guts being strewn around the set. By shooting in order, there was no need to worry about continuity of blood spatters on the walls inside the cabin. Over 95% of the remake was filmed sequentially.
8. Sam Raimi’s early short film ‘Within the Woods’ shares many shots with The Evil Dead
The Evil Dead wasn’t the first Renaissance Pictures film to take place in an isolated woodland settling. Within the Woods is considered the predecessor to the Evil Dead franchise, responsible for kickstarting the whole thing. It was shot on Super 8 camera, on a budget of just $1600. But did you know it shares many shots and motifs with Evil Dead? The swinging bench can be seen in both films in front of the cabin, and the famous POV shot from the perspective of the evil forces can bee seen first in Within the Woods. Watch the full short film here.
7. The original movie had some interesting working titles
Everyone knows that Evil Dead was originally planned to be titled The Book of the Dead. But did you know it went through a few working titles including Blood Flood’, ‘A Hundred and one percent Dead’, ‘These Bitches are Witches’, ‘Fe-Monsters’, and ‘The Evil Dead Men and the Evil Dead Women’? Only some very rare Mexican prints of the film retain the ‘The Book of the Dead’ titles.
6. Stephen King was an early fan of The Evil Dead
He first saw the movie at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival and was blown away by it. In a review, he described it as “most ferociously original horror film of the year.”. His support ultimately helped the films success, leading to distribution deals with companies who otherwise had refused to touch gore-soaked horror films. He described his first meeting with Sam Raimi for an Evil Dead soundtrack CD : “When I met Sam Raimi at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 1982, my first thought was that this fellow was one of three things: a busboy, a runaway American high school student, or a genius. He wasn’t a busboy, and Raimi finished high school some time ago, although he has the sort of ageless sophormore looks that are going to keep bartenders asking to see his driver’s license or state liquor card until he’s at least thirt-five. That he is a genius is yet unproven; that he has made the most ferociously original horror film of 1982 seems to me beyond doubt.”
5. The Evil Dead is part of a long running horror joke.
The Hills Have Eyes poster that appears briefly in The Evil Dead is Raimi’s homage to Wes Craven’s use of a ripped poster from Jaws in The Hills Have Eyes itself. Craven responded by having Nancy Thompson watch The Evil Dead on TV in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Raimi countered by hanging a Freddy Krueger glove above the toolshed door in Evil Dead II.
4. Lovecraft inspired much of the lore behind the franchise
Although inspired by historical texts, such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Necronomicon was a created by H.P Lovecraft, and mention of it first appeared in the short story The Hound, first published in 1924. The tale told of two grave robbers doomed by their theft of a jade amulet, which they recognised as ” the thing hinted of in the forbidden Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred.” His writing on the sea monster Cthulhu, known now as Cthulhu Mythos, tied directly to the Necronomicon, which was described as containing accounts of the Old Ones. Den of Geek have a fantastic article on this history of the fictional book, which you can read here.
3. There have been a few Evil Dead video games
The first Evil Dead video game was released for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. The Evil Dead was the first (and for some time, only) officially-licensed video game based on the series. Starting with 2000’s Evil Dead: Hail to the King, several other “Evil Dead” games have since been released, albeit from other publishers and with no direct connection to Palace’s 1984 game. These include Evil Dead: Hail to the King (2000) for PlayStation, Dreamcast, and PC, Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick (2003) for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, Evil Dead: Regeneration (2005) for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC, Army of Darkness: Defense (2011) for iOS and Android and Evil Dead: The Game (2011) for iOS. Ash Williams also appears as a non-playable character in Telltale Games’ game Poker Night 2.
2. The creepy passages actually mean something
On the tape in which the demon resurrection passages are read aloud, some of the words spoken (which appear to be Latin) sound like, “Sam and Rob, Das ist Hikers Dan dee Roadsa,” which means, “Sam and Rob are the Hikers on the road,” as it was actually Sam Raimi and Robert G. Tapert who play the fishermen that wave to the car as it passes them near the start of the film.
1. There’s a fascinating piece of Evil Dead history…somewhere.
When location shooting was complete in January 1980, the crew put a ‘time capsule’ in the trapdoor hole. The items were contained in a cigar box and are thought to include piece of a beam, a piece of gaffer/duct tape, a spent shotgun shell, a sample of fake blood and a hand-written ‘visual code’ to the film. A fan did claim to have found it, but his findings weren’t entirely convincing and some consider it lost altogether after a fire at the site.