The Evil Dead is an American horror film franchise created by Sam Raimi consisting of four feature films. The films revolve around the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, an ancient Sumerian text which wreaks havoc upon a group of cabin inhabitants in a wooded area in Tennessee. The protagonist, Ashley J. "Ash" Williams (Bruce Campbell) is the only character to appear in every installment of the original trilogy (Linda, Ash's girlfriend makes an appearance in all 3 films, but her only appearance in Army of Darkness is during the prologue). The original trilogy includes The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987), and Army of Darkness (1992), all written and directed by Raimi, produced by Robert G. Tapert, and starring Campbell. The franchise has since expanded into other formats such as video games and comic books, and a musical opened in Toronto in 2003 containing material from all three films.
The franchise was resurrected in 2013 with Evil Dead, both a reboot and a loose continuation of the series directed by Fede Alvarez and produced by Raimi, Campbell and Tapert. It is rumored that there will be three other installments of the franchise are considered: a sequel to the 2013 reboot currently entitled Evil Dead 2 but will not be directed by Alvarez, a direct sequel to the original trilogy currently entitled Army of Darkness 2 rumored to be directed by Sam Raimi and starring Campbell, and a seventh and final film which would merge the narratives of both chronologies.
Within the Woods
In January 1978 Bruce Campbell was a college dropout who had just quit his job as a taxicab driver. Sam Raimi was studying literature at Michigan State University with Robert Tapert finishing his economics degree. While putting the finishing touches on It's Murder! Tapert suggested doing a feature length film to Raimi. Raimi felt it to be impossible citing that they could never pull off the funding. Campbell did not mind stating that "I could always move back home." Tapert feared a career in fisheries/wildlife while Raimi was afraid that he would go back to work at his dad's home furnishing store. These were the practical reasons that convinced the three to put forth a feature length film. The three were highly supportive fans of the comedy genre, though they decided not to do such a film as they felt "a feature-length yuck fest just didn't compute". To do the film as a horror was put forth after they were inspired by a well noted scene from It's Murder. This moved Raimi to write the short film Clockwork. The three felt the end result was very effective and represented a new direction that their films could take, that of a semi-successful horror film.
This would later lead to research of low-budget horror films at the local drive-in theater. The many films that they watched were the "two films for two dollars", allowing them the chance to document the behavior of what would become their target audience. Campbell quoted, "the message was very clear: Keep the pace fast and furious, and once the horror starts, never let up. 'The gorier the merrier' became our prime directive." Films that were witnessed amongst them included Massacre at Central High and Revenge of the Cheerleaders. The idea to do a "prototype" was commissioned, to prove not only to themselves, but also to potential investors that they were capable of doing a full length horror film. The same year, at Michigan State, Raimi had been studying H. P. Lovecraft and was most impressed with Necronomicon, or simply The Book of the Dead. From these rough concepts, he concocted a short story where a group of four friends unwittingly dig up an Indian burial ground and unleash horrific spirits and demons. In the spring of 1978, filming of Within the Woods started over a three-day weekend, on a budget of $1,600.
Within the Woods, as well as serving as a prototype, had impressed the filmmakers. For a marketing strategy a screening was arranged at their former high school, with a positive response.
Filming was first commissioned for the summer of 1979 in Michigan. In order to organize the budget, Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbellbought a few "how to make an independent film" guide publications. The budget was originally centered on $150,000 while shooting with a Super 8camera. However, due to technical difficulties, it was decided to move it up to 16 mm format, as they wanted to film the project in the style of the many low-budget films at the time that had come out in the 1970s. Since they had little experience in the film industry, the three felt they should buy business suits and briefcases as a means to convince investors that they "had all the answers." A man named Andy Grainger, who was a friend of Tapert and owner of a series of movie theaters, was the first primary investor. He stated, "Fellas, no matter what, just keep the blood running." As a tribute to him, there's a scene in the finished film where an old film projector whirs to life and "projects" blood running down the screen.
Most importantly, Grainger provided the name of a distributor in New York City whom they could approach for possible distribution. The company was Levitt-Pickman Films, who most recently was famous for Groove Tube, starring a very young Chevy Chase. The filmmakers took a train at $40 each, as they knew none of their cars could make an entire round trip road trip. One of Campbell's old girlfriends named Andrea allowed them to stay at her apartment. Andrea's cat fell asleep on Raimi's face without even disturbing him, and Raimi, who is allergic to cats, had his eyes swollen shut.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Released in 1981, this is the first film in the series. It introduces the series' protagonist, Ash, and the Book of the Dead and what it brings with it.
Evil Dead II (1987)
Released in 1987, this film is a sequel to the original continuing where the last film ended, (a recap of the previous film is shown in the beginning, though it is often confused as being an edited remake of the beginning of the first film) and shows the horrors of Ash's battling with the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis and demons.
Army of Darkness (1992)
Released in 1992, this is the third film in the franchise (and the last featuring Ash Williams taking a lead role so far), taking Ash back in time to England in 1300 AD. The movie has horror attributes, but is based mainly on slapstick and action. This time the evil creatures are explicitly referred to as deadites.
Evil Dead (2013)
It had been confirmed that a remake would be made of The Evil Dead. It will be produced by Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, but will not include the Ash character. It was also said that the movie would be about a group of teenagers who go to the cabin and find the book, and the similarities with the original would end there.
However, in August 2007, Bruce Campbell revealed in a radio interview that the proposed remake was "going nowhere" and "fizzled" due to extremely negative fan reaction.
More recently, rumors have suggested that a re-write of a script is being reviewed and Bruce Campbell suggested that in true style of Sam Raimi's films he would do a cameo role, jokingly suggesting that it would be a remake/sequel and Knowby's ghost would be replaced by ghostly Ash.
In July 2008, Raimi stated that he intends to work with his brother Ivan in the development of a sequel, not a remake, and Campbell further supported this by saying that The Evil Dead remake was no longer a possibility.
In April 2011, Bruce Campbell did an AskMeAnything interview on Reddit.com, saying "Newsflash: We are remaking Evil Dead. The script is awesome. I will be one of the producers and possibly play the milk man". He added "In all honesty, we would all love to make another Evil Dead movie. When that will happen? Who can say – we're all working on other jobs right now. We're not trying to dodge anybody's questions, there just isn't that much to talk about. The remake's gonna kick ass – you have my word". On July 13, 2011 it was officially announced, via a press release, that Ghost House Pictures would be producing the reboot of the Evil Dead franchise, with Diablo Cody in the process of revising the script and Fede Alvarez chosen as the director. Actor Shiloh Fernandez is reported cast as the main lead role of David. Bloody Disgusting has reported that Lily Collins is in the lead role as Mia who is a female version of Ash, but on January 24, 2012, Collins has dropped out of the role. On February 3, 2012 it was announced that actress Jane Levy, star of the television series Suburgatory would be replacing Collins in the lead role as Mia. Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore and Jessica Lucas have joined the cast for the horror film.
On August 1, 2012, it was announced that in honor of the reboot due out in 2013, The Evil Dead is coming to the world's largest Halloween event,Knott's Berry Farm's "Halloween Haunt" in Buena Park, CA, also known as Knott's Scary Farm. Knott's has a large log flume ride that goes in and around a large mountain, where the movie will be created for guest to experience the terror firsthand.
Fede Alvarez confirmed the film will use practical effects like the original film and no CGI was used in the scenes shown in the trailer at New York Comic Con. He has stated the special effects in the film are similar to magic and illusion tricks.
An official trailer for the film was released on October 24, 2012. Many familiar elements of the original film are revealed, such as the possessed arm and the infamous tree rape scene, as well as new scenes involving blood-rain and one of the possessed characters splitting their tongue with a utility knife. The trailer was given a red-band status for its excessive use of gore and profanity. This trailer was voted (by many horror magazines & websites) to be the best trailer of 2013.
On Friday March 8, 2013, the film held its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The film was received with generally favorable reviews.
At the premiere event for the 2013 film at SXSW, Alvarez announced that a sequel is in the works (but has backed out of writing and directing the film). Sam Raimi confirmed plans to write Evil Dead 4 with his brother; it was later specified that this film would be Army of Darkness 2. At a WonderConpanel in March 2013, Campbell stated that their ultimate plan was for Evil Dead 2 and Raimi's Army of Darkness 2 to be followed by a crossover film which would merge the narratives of Ash and Mia. Campbell had confirmed to reprised his Ash role in Army of Darkness 2. On October 26, Alvarez confirmed on his Twitter that Sam Raimi will be directing Army of Darkness 2. On October 30, 2013, co-writer Sayagues confirmed to Desdhollywood that he and Alvarez won't return for the sequel. That same month, Alvarez took to his Twitter that the rumor is not true. Contrary to popular rumors and even mentions by Campbell himself, Campbell has stated that he may not appear in AoD 2 by stating: "It's all Internet b.s. – there's no reality whatsoever. These random comments slip out of my mouth or Sam Raimi's mouth, next thing you know, we're making a sequel."
Ash vs. Freddy vs. Jason
In the documentary "The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead" Rob Tapert states that New Line had said they wanted to do Ash vs Freddy vs Jason: "We thought about it for one second but we knew we would have totally trashed the franchise in doing that, in that there would be no reason to reunite Bruce and Sam for Evil Dead 4 whatever that would be nor would there be any reason to go back and reinvent the original Evil Dead with a hot new filmmaker". A comic book series was produced based on this concept.
In Italy, The Evil Dead was released under the title La Casa ("The House") and Evil Dead II became La Casa II. These were followed by three unrelated movies: Umberto Lenzi's La Casa 3 (aka Ghosthouse) (1988), Fabrizio Laurenti's La Casa 4 (aka Witchery) (1988) and Claudio Fragasso's La Casa 5(aka Beyond Darkness) (1990). This is similar to what has happened in George A. Romero's Living Dead series starting with Zombi 2. House II: The Second Story (1987) and The Horror Show (1989) were retitled La Casa 6 and La Casa 7 respectively in their Italian releases.
Awards Pictures, a company that attempted to begin a new line of movies in the series in 2004, announced plans in May 2012 to film an Evil Dead 4, one that has nothing to do with the original films. Because of this, Sam Raimi sued Awards Pictures in an attempt to stop them from making said film, due to his own plan to someday film one himself. In August 2012, U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer entered a default judgment that “permanently enjoined” Awards Pictures from using the names Evil Dead, Evil Dead: Genesis of the Necronomicon, Evil Dead: Genesis of the Necronomicon, Part 2 or Evil Dead: Consequences “as or as part of the title of a motion picture, television program, video game, play, book or any other form of entertainment provided or to be provided through any media.”
The Cabin in the Woods also features many references to the film and even features Deadites and the possessed trees although this is considered more a reference than a direct sequel.
Bruce Campbell directed and starred in a film titled My Name Is Bruce. It does not continue the story of Army of Darkness but is a fictionalized portrayal of Bruce living his everyday life in which he is erroneously believed to be as heroic as the Ash character and is hired to fight an ancient spirit. The film was released to a limited number of theaters on October 26, 2008 and was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on February 10, 2009.
It was revealed at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con that Sam Raimi was developing an Evil Dead television series. It is being written by Sam Raimi, Ivan Rami, and Bruce Campbell with the plan for Campbell to star in the series.