Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1981. Renaissance Pictures. Screenplay by Sam Raimi. Cinematography by Tim Philo. Produced by Rob Tapert. Music by Joseph LoDuca. Production Design by Steve Frankel. Film Editing by Edna Ruth Paul.
Considering it spawned countless imitators, a sequel (which was essentially the same movie but with a budget) and even a stage musical, it stands to reason that we ask the question: how kind has time been to the original film that launched Sam Raimi’s career? Surprisingly good actually, thanks to the clever ways in which he maximizes the resources he has at hand with this delightful gore fest. Five friends travel to a secluded cabin in the Tennessee woods for vacation, unaware that the book they find in the cabin’s dusty basement is actually a supernatural tome that unleashes demons upon them that feast on their flesh. Not a fun way to spend vacation, particularly as the body count rises and the youngsters are taken out in increasingly curious ways. The makeup effects definitely show the limits of the budget, but the wonderfully committed performances and the director’s perfect riding of the line between fear and camp hold it together beautifully.