Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Evil Dead (1981)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Evil Dead (1981)

In 22 year-old writer/director Sam Raimi's debut film - it was the ultimate "cabin in the woods" story, although it had very little dialogue, plot and character development. It could be compared to director/writer Jack Woods' Equinox (1970) - another tale of a cabin in the woods, four friends and a professor, an occult tome and crazed demonic forces. Evil Dead told about five college students who drove to a remote shack, played a reel-to-reel tape recorder with incantations, looked into a old book with demonic drawings and incantations, and summoned up bloody hell. Raimi's first film was one of the most exuberant, inventive, comic-book, tongue-in-cheek parodies with horror themes ever produced - it starred B-movie icon Bruce Campbell as the one-armed protagonist with a chain saw. Famed future director Joel Cohen co-edited the film with Raimi.

Due to this film's graphic violence in a few of its scenes, it was banned in several European countries. In the UK, the film was subject to obscenity trials and various censorship cuts - particularly the misogynistic tree-rape scene. On-screen blood and gore would have given the film an NC-17 rating if Raimi had presented the film to the ratings board when it was first released. With an initial production budget of only $375,000, the film grossed almost $11 million (upon re-release). This was the first installment of the popular cult Evil Dead trilogy, a low-budget, non-humorous B-grade gore-fest horror film with the Stephen King quote-tagline: "the ultimate experience in grueling terror."

  • in the film's opening, five Michigan State University students in their 20s were spending a weekend 'spring break' retreat in a rented, remote cabin in the Michigan mountains
    • Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell)
    • Linda (Betsy Baker), Ash's girlfriend
    • Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), Ash's younger sister
    • Scotty (Hal Delrich)
    • Shelly (Sarah York), Scotty's girlfriend
  • Scotty was driving the group in Ash's 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, and crossed a rickety and dilapidated wooden bridge to the cabin. [Note: Although Scotty claimed the cabin was a rental, it was privately owned by Professor Raymond Knowby, an archaeologist, who had discovered the Book of the Dead in the ruins of Castle Khandar.]
  • once they entered the seemingly-abandoned cabin (with a banging porch swing), they unpacked and settled in. In her room, Cheryl was using her sketch pad to draw a wall-mounted clock, when her hand uncontrollably moved and drew on its own after the clock's pendulum stopped. She also felt creepy, whispering forces summoning her into the forest from the open window
  • later that evening while having dinner, the cellar door in the living room opened unexpectedly by itself. They entered in the cellar, where they found a number of items: a The Hills Have Eyes poster, a shotgun, a Khandarian dagger (with a hilt of a face in pain), and an archaeologist's reel-to-reel tape-recording translated account of a cursed and forbidden book ("bound in human flesh and inked in human blood") named the Naturon Demonto (or Book of the Dead) - the strange book had an angry face drawing inside and on its cover. It had reportedly been found among the Khandarian ruins of a Sumerian civilization, and was filled with ancient burial practices and funerary incantations, and information about demonic resurrection
  • unaware of the after-effects that would be unleashed, the group played one of the tapes of ancient spells, and spurred on demonic forces, coming supposedly from the woods that began to come to life; the listening session ended when one of the trees outside burst through a window
  • later in her room, Cheryl heard strange voices beckoning her to "Join us" from outside; in her nightgown, she went to investigate; in the film's infamous and controversial sequence known as the "tree rape," Cheryl was attacked in the woods outside the cabin by vines and tree branches that wrapped around her neck and limbs, stripped her of her clothes, caressed her and then spread her legs - one tree branch suddenly impaled her in her crotch
Vines Wrapped Around Cheryl's Necks, Arms and Legs
  • after she was chased back to the cabin (with quick POV tracking shots), she told her astonished cabin mates: ("It was the woods themselves, they're alive"); Ash proposed to drive her to the nearest town for the night, but they found that their bridge - a lifeline to the outside world - had been torn up and destroyed
  • after returning to the cabin, Ash listened to more of the tape recording, and learned that the only way to kill the demonic presence in a possessed person was dismemberment
  • while playing a game of cards, Cheryl exhibited strange telepathic abilities, and was soon transformed into a demon zombie with a greyish white face and superhuman strength (known as a Deadite or Shemp). As a result, she levitated or floated above the floor, theatened them with death and spoke with a ghastly voice (screaming: "You will die!" and "One by one, we will take you"), and grabbed a pencil from the floor and jabbed it into the ankle of Ash's girlfriend Linda; she ground it in until blood spurted out; after Cheryl tossed people around the room, Scotty kicked her in the head, and she fell backwards into the open basement's fruit cellar trap door; she was confined in the cellar with a padlocked trap-door that led up to the living room
Cheryl's Demonic Transformation
  • the next to be possessed was Shelly who was in her room when a demon crashed through her bedroom window and attacked her; she also became a Deadite, and began to attack her boyfriend Scotty's neck and face; with lots of demonic screaming, he wrestled her and tossed her into the fireplace where her face was charred; when she tried to stab him with the long Sumerian dagger found earlier in the cellar, he unsheathed his own hunting knife and cut her right hand at the wrist; then, Shelly bit into her own wrist and completely severed it by herself - her hand still held onto to the hilt!; Scotty grabbed the dagger from the ground and stabbed Shelly in the back with it - with the hand still attached; she collapsed to the floor and after spurting a white milky substance from her mouth (as vomit) and hand stump, she appeared to be dead; but then when she reanimated, she had to be dismembered by Scotty with an axe - one of the messiest, goriest, and bloodiest segments in the entire film; Ash and Scotty dragged her body parts in a sheet outdoors, where they dug a grave (with a cross) and buried them

Shelly's Charred Face From Fireplace

Shelly's Self-Severed Wrist

Completely Possessed
Shelly's Demonic Transformation
  • emotionally upset by Shelly's death, and ready to leave on his own, Scotty insisted on getting out and decided to vacate; he told Ash: "I'm getting out" - and walked off by himself into the woods
  • meanwhile, Ash checked on Linda and noticed that her ankle-pencil wound was spreading an infection (an effective stop-motion sequence) - and that she had become possessed as well; at the same time, Scotty returned from his brief foray into the forest, revealing that he had suffered from massive, lethal injuries inflicted by demonic trees; his face was severely bloodied and he was semi-conscious, and he began bleeding from his mouth
  • although there were signs that Linda was also becoming possessed, she didn't attack Ash at first, and only smiled and giggled at him; and then she completely reverted back to her normal self to fool Ash; (Cheryl also messed with Ash's mind by briefly speaking to him in her normal voice, but then grabbed for his throat); when Linda began singing: "We're gonna get you, we're gonna get you" - Ash dragged her outside, left her on the ground, and locked the cabin's door so he could tend to Scotty's injuries
  • once back inside the cabin, Ash was administering a glass of water to Scotty - and realized that Scotty had died from his wounds
  • Linda snuck back into the cabin through the back door and attacked Ash with the Khandarian ceremonial dagger; after a brief struggle, he bloodily impaled her in the back with the weapon and she fell onto Scotty's body, while puking blood and milky vomit; Ash took her body to an outdoor tool-shed where he strapped her down to a workbench with chains and was tempted to chainsaw her into pieces
  • after a change of heart, Ash decided to bury Linda and carried her outside to dig a grave; ultimately, she rose out of the ground after being buried, and began clawing at Ash's legs, drawing blood; he was forced to grab a heavy wooden beam to beat her, and then when she made a giant leap toward him, he beheaded her with a shovel - blood spurted from her neck stump onto his face as Linda's body attempted to rape him; he freed himself from her and escaped back to the cabin

Linda's Pencil-Ankle Wound Spreading Infection

The Beginnings of Linda's Possession

"We're gonna get you, we're gonna get you"

Linda Stabbed and Puking Blood and Milky Vomit

Linda Emerging From Underground in a Freshly-Dug Gravesite

Linda's Decapitation With a Shovel
  • back inside the cabin, Ash discovered that Cheryl had escaped from her cellar prison; she attacked him from an open window - and received a shot-gun blast in the face and shoulder; Ash descended into the cellar (now unlocked) for more shotgun shells ammunition for his 'boomstick' after barricading the door; in the basement, a pipe leaking blood spewed onto his face, covering him with blood; blood also seeped from electrical outlets, openings in the walls, and into light sockets, and a film projector started on its own (with blood drops on its lens), casting a reddish hue onto the already blood-soaked Ash; Ash reached into a mirror reflection of himself and the mirror turned into water
  • as Ash stood with his back to the cabin's wooden front door, Cheryl's hands busted through behind him and tried to choke him; after being thrown to the ground, he sat up and blasted her in the jaw with the shotgun through the hole in the door; at the same time as Ash attempted to barricade the door with a heavy cabinet, Scotty sat up and reanimated as a zombie behind him in the living room; as they fought with each other, the Book of the Dead was accidentally toppled from a table and fell halfway into the fireplace and began burning and smoking

Cheryl Blasted in Jaw Through Hole in Door

Scotty's Eyes Gouged Out

Scotty Also Smoking and Burning
  • Ash fought off Scotty who lifted him up with superhuman strength and strangled him; Ash gouged out Scotty's eyes and also extracted a large tree branch impaled in Scotty's abdomen, causing him to hemorrhage and collapse to the floor; Ash realized that Scotty was also beginning to smolder and had a physical connection to the Book partially burning in the fireplace
  • Cheryl broke through the barricaded front door and pounded Ash in the back with a fire poker, as Scotty also struggled to grab Ash; all the while, Ash was attempting to grab the Book and toss it further into the fire; Ash was able to retrieve the Book of the Dead and throw it directly into the flames - immediately both of the Deadites froze and began crumbling apart, and Ash watched in horror as the bodies of the two remaining Deadites began to decompose and deteriorate (in time-lapse photography); even the face on the Book of the Dead's cover began to suffer similar decomposition; with one final blast of gore and innards and bloody hands emerging from the Deadites' torsos and from Cheryl's exploding head, Ash was showered by the bloody remains of the two Deadites with a voice intoning: "JOIN US"
Scotty's Deterioration and Decomposition

Cheryl Frozen

Crumbling Skeletal Remains
  • with the light of dawn, Ash was saved; the film ended with a fast-moving evil dead spirit rushing through the forest toward Ash from behind the cabin (shot with a POV perspective, it tore through the rear entrance into the cabin toward Ash standing in the front yard ); when it reached Ash, he opened his mouth to scream - and the image turned to black

(l to r): Shelly, Scotty

(l to r): Cheryl, Linda, Ash

Four Others Watching

Cheryl's Drawing of Clock And Hearing of Voices in the Forest

Hilt of the Sumerican Dagger

Book of the Dead or Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the Cellar (With a Face In One of Its Illustrations)

Cheryl Viewing Torn Up and Destroyed Bridge

Cheryl Stabbing Linda's Ankle

Cheryl Confined in Cellar

Shelly's Attack Against Scotty

Shelly's Dismembered Body Parts After Scotty Chopped At Her With an Axe

Scotty - Severely Injured From Trip Into Forest

Scotty's Death - From Evil Trees

Ash Beginning to Feel The Effects of the Deadite Forces - Reaching Into Reflection in Mirror

Attacked by Cheryl's Hands Through Wooden Front Door

Scotty Reanimated As a Zombie

The Burning Book of the Dead Near Flames

Ash's Successful Attempt to Move the Book into Fire

Cheryl's Deterioration

Book Cover's Deterioration

Sole Survivor Ash at Dawn


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