Oct 30, 2015

13 Things You Didn’t Know About The Evil Dead

Article By: Tyler Doupe

The Evil Dead is an undisputed cinematic classic and a staple for the home video library of any horror fan. It’s a rare example of a horror film that managed to impress mainstream film critics and genre film fans alike. As such, it has received countless special edition DVD and Blu-ray re-issues and a series of limited edition commemorative releases. Nearly all of the incarnations of the film come with enlightening commentary tracks. But finding the time to sit down and listen to them can be a challenge. So, to take the hard labor out of the process, we have compiled a bite sized list of 13 fascinating things we learned from the commentary track on The Evil Dead (1981).

1. The opening sequence was shot a total of four times

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The version that was used in the finished film was the very last thing that Sam Raimi shot prior to the picture’s (1981) release. He felt that previous versions were not dramatic enough or they were too fast for his liking. 


2. There was no cellar in the cabin where the film was shot

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A hole was cut in the floorboards and a trap door and a partial staircase were installed to provide the appearance of leading down to a basement. However, the cellar shots were actually taken in the basement of producer Rob Tapert’s parents’ home in Michigan. 


3. The crew threw alcohol on the fireplace to keep it stoked

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To keep the fire in the cabin roaring and provide the desired effect, the production team would throw moonshine on it between takes. 


4. Safety was far from a priority on set

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In the scenes with breaking glass (there are several) real glass was used instead of tempered safety glass. And in the scenes where shots are fired, live rounds were used instead of blanks! Raimi and Tapert chalk it up to being young and irresponsible. 


5. The contacts worn by the deadites could only be put in for short periods of time

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In fact, they could only be worn for fifteen-minute intervals for a maximum of five times in a single day. Once the lenses were in, the production team had to shoot as much footage as they possibly could during those brief periods of time.


6. Betsy Baker had to put her head in a bowl of onions to create tears

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Visine was too expensive for the extremely limited budget on which the film was shot, so in the scene where Linda cries, Baker had to put her head in a bowl of onions to induce tears. 


7. The Deadites spew liquid other than blood in an attempt to appease the censors

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The deadites can be seen spewing liquid that is a milky white color in several sequences. Raimi and Tapert thought that this would afford them leniency with the sensors. But it was to no avail; the film was released unrated anyway. 


8. The scene where Linda vomits onto the camera outraged the cameraman

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The camera operator was apparently livid that no one took the time to warn him that he was going to get spat on. He was upset because he didn’t get to use any kind of protective gear on himself or the equipment he was using. 


9. The Evil Dead was not the film’s original title

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It was originally going to be called Book of the Dead. But the film’s sales agent suggested the title change because he was concerned people would think the title meant they were going to have to read for ninety minutes. 


10. Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert have a cameo in the film

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The pair pops up shortly after the two-minute mark. They are the two men in fishing gear standing on the side of the road after the leads narrowly avoid a collision with a log truck. 


11. The cabin in the film was actually renovated by the cast and crew of the film prior to shooting

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When the location was chosen, it was not in use and required a great deal of work. The cast and crew spent the better part of two weeks cleaning cow manure and various other unwanted material off the cabin floor. 


12. The cabin actually burned down shortly after filming

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According to Bruce Campbell, pieces of the cabin still stand today but the majority of it was burned to the ground a coupe of years after the film was shot. 


13. The cabin ceiling beams had to be completely torn out

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Since the film was shot on location in an actual cabin, instead of on a sound stage, the ceiling had to be dramatically altered to allow room for stage lighting. As such, the ceiling beams had to be torn out to allow more room for equipment. 

Tyler Doupe is a film critic and journalist. He is the managing editor at Wicked Horror and an occasional contributor to Fangoria and Rue Morgue.

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