5 youth's are holidaying in a
remote woodland cabin up in the Tennessee mountains, when one of them finds a tape recorder and an old
book labelled "Necronomicon ex-mortise" (which in
English means "Book of the Dead"). Playing back the tape, they find it to be the workings of an
archaeologist, who had been attempting to translate the pages in
the translations include dead resurrection passages and demon
incantations, and playing the tape awakens a lot of evil forces
that subsequently converge on the cabin. The 5 youths then find
themselves fighting a battle for survival as one by one, the
group are possessed by the evil forces, and have to killed by the
remaining survivors. During which time we get to see eyes gouged
out, heads decapitated, and bodies dismembered with axes and
chainsaws, until only one survives.
violence is somewhat on the "ludicrously over-the-top" side, though I'm sure the
"woodland rape" and "Achilles heel" scenes will have most fans cringing in
horror. However, as the film is so far fetched it's difficult to take even these seriously.
low budget, but extremely gory, the film actually comes across
as more of a black comedy. The humour was apparently totally
unintentional, but the film is so ridiculous in places you can't
help but laugh. Either way, it's resounding success and huge cult
status it attained (even in the UK, despite censorship
restrictions on its original cinema and video releases) affirmed
it's status as a classic horror film.
marks : 7/10
Alternate tag line "Can They be
The film was originally going to be
entitled "The Book of the Dead", but
they decided to change the name after one of the
producers pointed out that kids may misinterpret
the title and think it's a film about a book.
Apparently, the film didn't take off
too well in the USA at first. It was only after
doing extremely well in Europe that people in the
US seemed to sit up and take notice. It also
marked the debut of genre star Bruce Cambell's
The films budget was $50,000.
The voice of the professor on the
tape recording was actually that of American
Movie Classics host Bob Dorian.
The UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC by 59s in order to pass it with an
"18" certificate. This same version was
then used for its initial video release, however
it found its way onto the
Government's Department of Public Prosecutions
"Video Nasties" hit list, despite the fact that the film already held an
"18" cinema certificate. The BBFC then
insisted on making a further 1:06s cuts before
agreeing to pass it for a video release. This excised the woodland rape scene, and
heavily toned down every subsequent battle
between Ash and with his zombified friends.
Channel 4 films re-submitted the
uncut version in 2001, and to everyone's surprise
was passed uncut by the BBFC (including the
woodland rape scene). However, as Channel 4 films
didn't actually own the distribution rights it
wasn't until Anchor Bay opened up a UK branch
later that year that we finally got the chance to
see what we had been missing all these years.
The film was made in a real life
abandoned cabin in the Tenesee woods,
unfortunately it no longer exists as the building
was destroyed in a fire a year later.
Apparently the investors where
disappointed when they first saw the film, that
it didn't come across as a serious horror
picture, but considering to date they have
received a return of 3 times the amount of money
they initially paid in, I'm sure they were able
to live with it!
The two hitchhikers at the beginning
of the film were Sam Raimi and producer Robert
German video release, entitled "Tanz der
Teufel", was originally released uncut but
fell foul of German censorship laws. It was later
released with the amended title "Tanz der
Teufel 1" and was missing about 48 seconds
In order to raise funds for the
film, Sam Raimi made a 32 minute short entitled
"Within the Woods" to show investors,
which starred Bruce Campbell and Scott Spiegel.
The plot basically was about a group of friends
staying in a remote cabin, who find the place is
built on an Indian burial ground. One of them
(Bruce Campbell) digs up a grave and becomes
possessed and spends the rest of the film tracking
down and killing the rest of his friends. This
has never been officially released anywhere, but
there are numerous bootleg tapes in circulation
in the US. The "Book of the Dead" DVD
by Anchor Bay, released in 2002 was to have
included this short, but they were unable to
secure the rights and it looks unlikely that they
ever will be able to.