As the film was originally shot on 16mm and then blown-up to 35mm for its theatrical run you'll have to accept that The Evil Dead is never going to be one of the best looking films out there. But, Anchor Bay's transfer is pretty strong despite the level of grain inherent in the image. The most striking aspect is the vibrant colours which have been given more life than you'd ever have thought possible for such a low budget movie. However, there is a problem with the disc. For whatever reason (we presume to make the film work better on widescreen TVs) Anchor Bay has seen fit to crop the image from the original 1.33:1 ratio to 1.85:1 and make it anamorphic. While this doesn't really affect the film too much, it does disrupt some of Raimi's compositions.
The DD 5.1 mix is identical to the one featured on the Elite Entertainment's US release disc and does a great job of bringing Raimi's incredibly inventive use of sound to life with plenty of spatial effects (like the rather unnerving muttered repetition of the phrase 'Join Us' issuing from somewhere behind your seat). However, the real bonus here is the inclusion of a DTS 6.1 ES mix which adds a little more balance to the soundfield and considerably more to the rears. The only possible drawback is the slightly harsh quality of the dialogue track, but this is the fault of the original recording. If you're lucky enough to have the home cinema set-up needed to check this out, you will be in for a truly chilling treat.
For diehard fans of the movie, Elite Entertainment's previously mentioned US release has always been the holy grail of Evil Dead DVDs. This Anchor Bay release shares two of its main features. First up is a commentary Sam Raimi and producer Rob Tapert (it name checks the Elite disc) and then there's an anecdote-packed second commentary from Bruce Campbell. In addition to these, the Anchor Bay disc includes the theatrical trailer and a stills gallery. Not bad, but it still trails behind the Elite disc which also offered 20 minutes of alternate and behind-the-scenes footage and a gallery of some 150 still photos - dead good.Not quite the definitive version we'd been waiting for, but by far the best version of the film released in the UK
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