Evil Dead: The Ultimate Edition, The (DVD)
Reviewed by Kryten Syxx
Starring Bruce Campbell, Betsy Baker, Ellen Sandweiss, Theresa Tilly, Richard DeManincor and Ted Raimi’s legs
Directed by Sam Raimi
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
There’s no need for us to dive into what makes Evil Dead a fun and classic horror film. So many reviews have been written here and all around that have done the movie itself justice. Instead, our focus will be on what makes this latest DVD release of Sam Raimi’s breakout feature worth the attention of our wallets.
Over the past few years there have been many editions of Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness released on the DVD format. Some added features, others added different cases such as the Book of the Dead versions. After all that, what else can there be to warrant another release? Anchor Bay found something, and it isn’t cheap or gimmicky either. This time around we get a three-disc Ultimate Edition that really blows previous entries away due to the sheer number of special features.
Some may yell "Rehash!" but that really isn’t the case here. The commentaries with Bruce, Sam, and Robert are the same from years ago; but that is pretty much where the recycling ends. Can you blame anyone for that though? How many commentaries can you record saying the same old thing when the first one did the job right the first time? Moving on.
Instead of fancy cases or included items like key chains and such, we get 14 special features including the commentary tracks. The remaining 12 are mostly all video featurettes we haven’t seen before with the exception of one that looks to have had additional footage added to it. So let’s head on down the line and take a look at what each one is.
Disc One features the Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert commentary we’ve heard before and includes the widescreen version of The Evil Dead. Also nestled on this disc is the 54-minute featurette called One By One We Will Get You: The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead. This is the only feature I take issue with. Not because of its quality, but due to the reason I cannot make out if I’ve seen this before. Some of the interviews within appear older while ones with Eli Roth and Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright and the women of the film have a crisper quality to the video. Either way, this isn’t a bad way to spend almost an hour. We get to look back on the hilarious and hellacious time the crew had making the film and the impact it had on those up and coming in the horror movie biz.
Sadly, that’s all for the first DVD, so on to Disc Two. Here we’ve got the full frame cut of the film with the familiar and funny comments made by star Bruce Campbell. Like before there’s only one other special feature, and that’s the 58-minute long reel of behind-the-scenes and blooper footage called The Evil Dead: Treasures from the Cutting Room Floor. While I don’t remember seeing this, that doesn’t mean it’s all new. Watching the cast fall over, get hurt and undertake the stress of shooting such a wild movie like The Evil Dead in such horrible conditions has a perversely fun effect. But ... all of that really pales in comparison to what’s lurking on the final disc of this Ultimate Edition.
The final disc of this set is all special features. Instead of just jumbling all of them into a paragraph or two, we’ll hit most of them on a one-by-one basis so you can get a better idea as to what it’s all about.
Life After Dead: The Ladies of The Evil Dead
Betsy Baker, Ellen Sandweiss and Theresa Tilly come together after 20+ years of shying away from the parts they played in The Evil Dead to wax about fans, the film’s effect on them and how all it took was a sense of humor to overcome being raped by a tree. Surprisingly, these ladies didn’t really know the film had such big following and had achieved cult status until recently. It was this revelation that got the trio to form the Ladies of The Evil Dead idea and tour conventions. They also helped in getting the cast reunion off the ground.
Footage in this featurette includes the ladies meeting fans, posing with Alice Cooper and reenacting the film at the Pickwick Theatre in Chicago in 2002. Bruce and Richard DeManincor were there, too! Not a bad way to kick off a disc full of features.
The Ladies of The Evil Dead Meet Bruce Campbell
Betsy, Ellen and Theresa sit down with Bruce for a half hour to reminisce about their time together in the late Seventies filming Evil Dead. Much like the previous special feature, the cast sit and chat things up about how some had worked together on previous Raimi projects and the sheer horror involved in making Sam’s classic film. A few of these packets of production info were shown on Disc One’s featuerette, but here the cast isn’t getting cut off to make room for others to talk. Bruce, as you’d expect, is the scene stealer here. Even when telling the most basic story that shouldn’t draw laughs, he manages to somehow do it. The dude is golden.
Betsy, Ellen, Theresa, Bruce, Richard and Ted Raimi take time out during a convention to talk about what it is like making the rounds at the horror shows and have a laugh at the time they spent together back in 1979. The cast’s stories about fans and signing things are very entertaining. Ted and Bruce really sell this one. Don’t pass it up if you enjoy comedy.
At the Drive-In
The Evil Dead cast and crew, including Ted, make an appearance at the Chicago Land Drive-In Theatre to hand out DVDs of the movie. That’s really it. Honest. That is all they do. Kind of hard to comment on this one given the meat of it.
The ED crew team up at the Flashback Weekend horror convention (2005) in Chicago for a panel. Bruce is his usual self, making the audience laugh at the expense of the fans asking questions. There’s talk of thigh signing, insults and a little bit of an awkward feeling throughout the affair. It is entertaining, no doubt, but much of the questions asked were answered on all the other special features in this collection.
Discovering The Evil Dead
Make-up tests, TV spots, trailers and image galleries are all well and good, but odds are you’ve seen this stuff before.
What really bites here is that the original film used to raise money for Evil Dead’s production, Within the Woods, is still not included in this set. On top of that Sam Raimi is almost nowhere to be seen aside from behind-the-scenes video. You’d think that he would take some time out of Spider-Man to appear with the people who helped further his career.
Those tiny gripes aside, this is an incredible release that packs in as much as possible. Sure there’s stuff we’ve seen before, but for those that held off for just the right time -- this is it. Join us!
5 out of 5
5 out of 5