The Evil Dead Review
I find it remarkable that the lowest of low budget, splatter-filled horror films, a film that spearheaded the, so called, ‘video nasty’ era of British censorship, a film maligned and adored in equal measure, manages to get a release on the latest ultra-high definition format!
The Evil Dead was director Sam Raimi’s first, and some say, best film. A labour of love, made by collecting a few mates, going out into the woods and shooting a movie. It took a few years and a lot of heartache to complete but there is no arguing with the finished product – the quintessential horror. Taking all the old tropes and turning them up to eleven, quite literally turning the screen red with blood. A watershed film that swept everything away and opened the flood gates for a new age of splatter, but played so comedically over-the-top, something that would be amped up with the sequels.
It made a superstar of its leading man, Bruce Campbell, and an icon of his character, Ash. The legacy of the film is still felt today, it contains every one of Raimi’s trademarks - shots, angles and style – and it keeps coming back for more. Even the ill-advised and nonsensical remake can’t top it for sheer spectacle and pulling power. The first in a ‘trilogy’ with Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, neither could exist without the first, original and best. The Evil Dead. There is no more to say.
The Evil Dead 4K Video
The Evil Dead was shot using Arriflex 16 BL and Arriflex 16 S cameras on 16mm film and in 2018 scanned at 4K resolution and finished as a 4K DI used for the creation of this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The disc presents a native 4K 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the fullscreen 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, High Dynamic Range, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Evil Dead on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
A caveat. The Evil Dead was a no budget, shot on 16mm (and subsequently blown up to 35mm) film made by amateurs. It has always had a rough and ready look, it is grainy, dark and occasionally soft – these are all inherent in the source material; and all have been persevered in this UHD.
That grubby feel
What is immediately apparent is how sharp and detailed the image is, close up shots (of which there are a lot) show terrific skin texture, pores, hair, water, eyes etc. while clothing has discernible weaves, the cabin interior has defined wood panelling, and detailed coverings. Check out the sparce meal on the table, how keen the edges are. The opening landscape establishing shots, the trees, leaves etc. all are sharp and keen. Indeed, the image has never been so sharp.
WCG and HDR add a fair punch to the colouring, giving the primaries a nice shot in the arm; check out the autumnal colours of the trees in the beginning, how blue is Ash’s shirt, how deep is the red of the blood! Colouring has always been strong, but here it is given an extra edge.
Black level is amazing, with deep inky levels, check out the any of the shadows in the cabin, the cellar is wonderful, likewise the depth in the night time forest. The white scale is just as strong giving some terrific highlights, the sheen on the foil at dinner, the glint from the necklace or the sheer slickness of the blood.
Digitally there are no compression issues and the source is remarkably clean. Grain can be extremely heavy at times (opening shots, composite shots etc.) but, on the whole, is resolved far better and needs to be there to give the whole film that grubby feel.
The Evil Dead 4K Audio
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track is well layered with a slightly front heavy mix, but decently separated with some nice effects. Dialogue is held well within the mix, and dominated by the frontal array, while the demonic voices are given a bit more spread, especially the ‘join us’ line which is deep, foreboding and emanates from all around. Bass is good, adding some decent heft to the lower end, while LF effects are given some decent prominence (the thumping of the swing chair at the beginning etc.).
Surrounds are used well with effects, such as the trees, and the deep vocals as the camera swoops through the forest, likewise the demonic sounds. The score does utilise all the speakers, providing the best of the immersion.
The Evil Dead 4K Extras
All of the extra features are on the included Blu-ray.
Audio Commentary - With Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell.
One By One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead - Comprehensive making of documentary.
Treasures from the Cutting Room Floor
At the Drive-In
Discovering Evil Dead
Picture-in-Picture: Join us! The Undying Legacy of The Evil Dead – Various horror directors discuss the film.
The Evil Dead 4K Verdict
The Evil Dead 4K Blu-ray Review
Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead has a huge reputation, gained through notoriety, and is one of the few films of the ‘video nasty’ era not to disappoint on viewing. Taking established horror tropes and turning them up to eleven and covering the screen with splatter in what is an over-the-top excuse in excess; the film is the original and the best.
Orignial and best
The 4K UHD set from Sony is great; the picture, considering the source, is amazing, very detailed, well coloured with a tremendous black level, keeping intact the darkness and occasional heavy grain, while the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround tack is well layered, mixed with strong presence and good bass. The extras package, found on the included Blu-ray, is also very comprehensive.
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