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Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich
Screenplay: Sam Raimi

Plot Synopsis: Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.
MPAA: Not Rated

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 85 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 10/9/2018

• Audio Commentary From Director Sam Raimi, Producer Robert Tapert and Actor Bruce Campbell
&bull. Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Evil Dead [4K UHD] (1982)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 29, 2018)

Never let it be said that I donít do things ass-backwards. When confronted by a film trilogy, most people prefer to start at the beginning and work to the end.

Sometimes this really doesnít matter, as with the Indiana Jones. All of them are essentially unrelated, and each would likely stand up perfectly well without any foreknowledge of the others.

The Bond flicks work the same way. They include enough inside gags to make them more entertaining if youíre acquainted with the series, you still donít really need to know much about them to have fun.

However, most movie series donít operate in such an unrelated manner, so usually they progress in a chronological fashion. Star Wars through Return of the Jedi, Back to the Future through Back to the Future Part III, etc. - all of those made much more sense if you took them in the appropriate order.

Perhaps the Evil Dead trilogy should be added to that list, but Iíll never know, for I didnít see them in chronological order. Instead, I went in reverse.

I started with the third flick, 1993ís Army of Darkness. A month later, I saw the middle film, 1987ís Evil Dead 2. Now Iíve finally gotten to the first movie in the series, 1982ís The Evil Dead.

At the start of the story, we meet five college-aged friends on their way for a vacation in a very remote cabin. The group includes Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), his sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), friend Scotty (Hal Delrich) and Scottyís girlfriend Shelly (Sarah York). After some trouble getting there - mainly due to a rickety bridge - they settle in and soon encounter some spooky doings.

In the cabinís cellar, they find something called the ďBook of the DeadĒ and a tape recording from the researcher who used to live there with his wife. Once the kids play the tape and check out the text, they unleash nasty otherworldly forces; one by one, theyíre affected until only one is left to stay alive and stop the evil. Just in case one or two of you donít know who that final combatant is, Iíll leave it a surprise.

Of course, it wasnít a surprise for me since Iíd already seen the two sequels. Neither of those flicks spells out the action of the first Dead terribly clearly, but I still had a pretty clear idea of the plot and what to expect.

What I didnít expect, however, was the odd reverse diminishing returns effect I witnessed through the series, for normally as a trilogy progresses, the movies get worse. Some second flicks best their predecessors, but itís exceedingly rare for a third offering to be the best of the group.

They didnít stop with a trilogy, of course, but one could definitely argue that 1964ís Goldfinger - the third in that run - is the top Bond flick. Actually, the Bond franchise is unusual since the second film - 1963ís From Russia With Love - also was better than the first picture, 1962ís Dr. No. Otherwise, itís tough to think of another series that progressively got better in that way.

Except for the Evil Dead franchise, that is. I feel Darkness easily tops Dead II, and the first sequel also bests the original, though not to a terrific degree. In essence, II does little more than remake the first film, but it works better for a number of reasons, most of which revolve around production values and filmmaking skills.

To be certain, Dead is the most original of the trilogy, and it really did help create its own genre. Director Sam Raimi fashions a tremendously over the top package of gore and slapstick that seems out-there in 2018, so it was even more outrageous 36 years ago.

Iíve never really understood the people who were shocked by the movieís blood and gore. Itís so ridiculous that it seems silly and nuts but not scary or alarming.

I can recall the fuss about Deadís carnage and still think it was an overreaction. There were a lot of really sick horror flicks during that era, but Dead bears more in common with ďItchy and ScratchyĒ than it does those other films.

So while Iíll give Dead kudos for its genre-launching techniques - Raimi really used a lot of clever and inventive filmmaking styles - I must admit I find it less than satisfying as a movie. Iíll probably catch hell for this statement, but in many ways, I think originality is overrated.

Iíd rather watch a very well made but derivative picture instead of a totally fresh offering that looks cheap and poorly done. Thatís why Iíll always prefer Terminator 2 to the original; the improved production values made it a much more effective and engaging piece of work.

It also helped that James Cameron had further honed his filmmaking skills over the seven years between flicks, and I think Raimi also needed more money and more experience to deliver a more consistently entertaining and enjoyable movie. With each new Dead picture, the budget went up and Raimi knew a little more. The techniques that were creative but raw in Dead became better developed by the later years, which meant more fully realized films.

At least thatís what I think, and it also helps that he was able to use better actors as time progressed. Across the board, Dead is a pretty poorly performed piece of work.

Itís an amateurish piece, probably because it was made by a bunch of amateurs. Filmed over a long period on a shoestring budget, Dead was clearly a labor of love, and it remains somewhat remarkable that Raimi and crew actually finished the thing and got it shown.

But he did, and now heís gone on to bigger things such as the Spiderman flicks. Fans will debate whether these bigger things are genuinely better, but at least in regard to the sequels to The Evil Dead, I think they are.

Viewed in its historical context, Dead was a groundbreaking piece of work that deserves a lot of credit. Viewed on its own as a movie, itís got a lot of spirit and can be fun, but it pales in comparison with its better-executed sequels.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B / Bonus C+

The Evil Dead appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Despite the limitations of the source, this became an appealing presentation.

The problems I found almost certainly resulted from the original photography. Sam Raimi and company filmed Dead on 16mm stock and blew it up to 35mm. Despite the resolution restrictions inherent in 16mm, the image tended to provide fairly satisfying visuals.

Sharpness varied quite a lot. Some shots appeared pretty sharp, while others came across as moderately soft and blurry.

I faulted the source for that, as I didnít sense the presence of DNR or anything that would rob the image of detail. The flick still featured plenty of grain, so if the transfer used any DNR, it went with a gentle application. No issues with jaggies or shimmering appeared, and I failed to discern any edge haloes or artifacts.

Source flaws also were surprisingly absent. Some ďgate dirtĒ occasionally cropped up around the edges of the frame, but those ďconcernsĒ came with the original photography. No specks, marks, spots or other defects appeared.

Colors lacked much vivacity, but then was another aspect of the original photography. This wasnít meant to be a lively palette, and it stayed on the subdued side of natural colors. Given their inherent limitations, the hues seemed satisfying, and the HDR of the 4K UHD added a little extra pep to the tones.

The same went for blacks and shadows. Dark tones tended to be a bit on the mushy side, but not terribly so; those elements exhibited acceptable density.

Shadows also veered into opacity on occasion, but most of the shots demonstrated positive clarity. Ultimately, I felt the presentation deserved a ďBĒ due to its inherent ugliness, but I felt pleased with the accuracy the transfer brought to the table. The film looked better than I expected, to say the least.

As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, it worked surprisingly well given the filmís roots. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray failed to include the original monaural audio. Nonetheless, I liked the updated track.

Some multichannel remixes come across as forced and gimmicky, and on occasion, those traps affected Dead. However, as a whole I thought the tracks worked surprisingly well. The soundfield seemed quite active throughout the film, as it cranked up the spooky factor.

Actually, I found it to sound a bit too active at times, mainly during quieter scenes. During those periods, the mix worked overtime to give us something - or anything - to remind us that this was a brand-new multichannel track. It could seem somewhat distracting and forced.

However, all was forgiven during louder scenes; the soundtrack excelled on those occasions. The mix created a solid sense of atmosphere and placement and blended together quite well. Music showed nice stereo presence, and the effects were accurately placed and moved neatly.

Surround usage appeared quite strong overall. Again, the rears seemed a bit too active at times, but usually the track boasted an involving environment.

Not surprisingly, the mix faltered when I examined the quality of the audio, but even so, it didnít betray its origins too badly. Speech showed the gravest concerns, as much of the dialogue appeared thin and edgy. The lines remained reasonably intelligible, but they didnít seem very natural or warm.

Effects also betrayed a shrill tone at times, and they displayed some mild distortion. Nonetheless, they showed fairly good clarity most of the time, and they featured some excellent low-end response on occasion.

The score worked the best, as it demonstrated good dynamics and clarity across the board. I noticed a little hiss at times, but other source flaws caused no concerns. Ultimately, the audio for The Evil Dead displayed too many defects to earn a grade higher than a ďBĒ, but I think fans will like the remix nonetheless.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2010 Blu-ray? Audio was identical, as both discs offered the same Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks.

As for visuals, they showed a mild uptick, though the limitations of the 16mm source didnít allow for much improvement. I thought blacks and colors were a bit stronger, and sharpness came across as a smidgen tighter. If you own the 2010 Blu-ray, I wouldnít urge you to run out and buy the 4K right away, but it did offer a slightly superior version of the film.

The 4K UHD itself includes only one component: an audio commentary from director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert and actor Bruce Campbell. All three sit together for this running discussion of the filmís origins and development, raising financing, shooting on location in Tennessee, assembling the movie, and the flickís reception and continued legacy.

Donít expect an even vaguely screen-specific conversation. Itís barely apparent that the movie runs while they chat. They make a couple of cursory references to the onscreen action but nothing more, so if you dislike non-specific tracks, this one wonít please you.

That format is fine with me, however, at least when the results are this terrific. All three participants have known each other forever, and that familiarity allows them to mix together in a satisfying way. They tell the story of the flickís creation in a thorough, entertaining manner that makes this a terrific commentary.

A second disc offers a Blu-ray copy of Dead - the same one from 2010. That means it includes only the audio commentary and lacks other extras.

The 2010 Blu-ray came with a bonus DVD that boasted a slew of useful extras. Unfortunately, those donít reappear here.

For all its legendary status, I must admit Iím not all that wild about Evil Dead. I think itís entertaining and respect its status as a groundbreaker, but it just doesnít do a lot for me based on its own merits. The 4K UHD provides surprisingly positive picture and audio plus a great commentary. Unfortunately, the package loses a bunch of supplements from prior releases. If bonus materials matter to you, go for the 2010 Blu-ray, but the 4K UHD becomes the most satisfying visual presentation Ė if just by a little.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of THE EVIL DEAD

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