This week's must-see DVD/BD, and why we're lovin' it.
What? The Evil Dead
Who? Directed by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich, Betsy Baker and Sarah York
Why? Writer/director Sam Raimi went into the woods with a budget of less than $375,000 back in 1981 and came back with this wicked cult classic that put him on the map and made star Bruce Campbell a genre hero. There have been many incarnations of The Evil Dead on DVD over the years with various degrees of quality and bonus features, but none have looked better than this Blu-ray debut. The story involves five Michigan State college students who venture to the mountains of Tennessee to spend the weekend in a remote cabin. What they find there is The Book of the Dead and tape recorder with the previous occupant reading passages from the fictional Aztec/Canaanite text. This unwittingly awakens "Kandarian" demons that possess the five one by one. Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) is the first to get lured into the forest, where she is violently assaulted by the branches of possessed flora that have serious wood. Meanwhile, the rest of the group at the cabin try to grabble with the insanity of their situation, locking each other in the basement and running from possessed friends who keep giggling maniacally. In the end, only Campbell's Ash survives the night, but he'll face more horrors and demons in Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness.
If you question why Anchor Bay would slap a 29-year-old 16mm film on Blu-ray, this HD transfer personally supervised by Raimi is the answer. The Evil Dead has never looked more alive, and the BD contains a choice of watching the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 as well as a new 1.85:1 presentation that will fill the entire screen of your widescreen TV. Campbell went on to do two more comedic Evil Dead sequels with Raimi who, in turn, tackled a little franchise called Spider-Man before returning to the horror genre with the recent Drag Me to Hell, but nothing beats this unrated Evil Dead for grueling horror and originality.
What Else?: This limited edition two-disc set comes with a Blu-ray and a DVD. The BD comes with an all-new audio commentary with Raimi, producer Robert Tapert and Campbell. The DVD contains bonus features from previous editions, including "One By One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead," "The Evil Dead: Treasures From the Cutting Room Floor," "Discovering The Evil Dead," a reunion panel, make-up test, "The Ladies of The Evil Dead Meet Bruce Campbell," "Book of the Dead: The Other Pages" and more.