Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: The Evil Dead

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, July 24, 2000

She’s your girlfriend, you take care of her.

Special features

Commentary Track9
Deleted Scenes7
Photo Gallery5

A true “cult classic” that involves beginning actors, a student director, and even a student producer. Director Sam Raimi later went on to do a few more Evil Deads as well as a number of other movies such as “A Simple Plan”.

RecommendationPossible Purchase
DirectorSam Raimi
Movie Rating5
Transfer Quality7
Overall Rating7
  • Academy Ratio

I picked this up on a whim at the comic convention for ten bucks and was very pleasantly surprised.

This is considered a “low budget” film, but it isn’t quite as low budget as some. They had $300,000 to work with over the years. Of course, that money wasn’t all available at the same time. But they were able to get masks made for them, as well as some body parts. They even got some good stop-motion animation for one extended scene.

The actors are all basically first-time actors. However, many of them had already “appeared” in other student films by director Sam Raimi and producer Robert Tapert. Most of them were from Michigan, mainly from Michigan State University where Raimi and Tapert went to college. It was at Michigan State that the two got the “bug” for creating films that might actually make money.

The story is a pretty simple one: four college students go for a weekend vacation in a remote cabin in the woods. They cross over a “dangerous” bridge to get there, and then they unleash a sleeping horror. Blood, guts, and mayhem ensue.

The acting is pretty damn good for a bunch of students, and even surpasses more professional actors. They aren’t really called on to do much more than scream and bleed, but boy, they do a great job of it. And the monster acting is also a joy to be scared from. (Take a look at the outtake scenes for a great scene where one “monster” stops growling and screaming after about a minute to say “I can’t keep doing this forever”.)

The extras on this DVD are marvelous. Besides the trailer (always good to have), there is a photo gallery, some deleted/alternate scenes, and two commentary tracks.

Both of the commentaries are interesting, but Bruce does a better job of keeping going throughout the movie. The guy just keeps on talking! Sam and Robert tend to stop and watch the movie too often, and stop telling us about the scenes they’re watching. It is very interesting how the two commentaries have different views on the movie. At one point, for example, Sam Raimi comments on how Bruce Campbell looks drunk in the car. When the same scene comes by on Bruce’s commentary, he mentions that they had originally been going to show the kids drinking moonshine in the car, but the scene was dropped, leaving the kids looking a little drunk for no reason. There is all sorts of great stuff in the commentaries about who is doing which voices, and who is doing the “doubles”. You also get new respect for Bruce Campbell’s hairdo. Its amazing what Karo Syrup can do for your coiffure.

The deleted and alternate scenes are also interesting. Many of them include some footage before and after the actual scene, allowing us to see and hear how some effects were created. Similarly, the photos show some of the scenes from different angles.

The packaging also advertises “Full Color Insert Featuring Liner Notes by Bruce Campbell”. I can’t really take Elite to task for this, many DVDs do it. The “full color insert featuring liner notes” is a single sheet listing the chapter stops on the left and with a very short note by Bruce. Hardly worth bragging about. I’ve seen only one “liner notes” worth bragging about, and that was Milos Forman’s in “Hair”.

Note that there are two versions of this movie available: a basic one from Anchor Bay, and the special edition reviewed here from Elite. Only the special edition has the two commentary tracks. I’m not sure, because I haven’t seen the second movie, but I think the cover art on the Elite version is from the second movie. I don’t recognize the actress that Bruce Campbell is holding on the back, nor do I recognize the scene on the cover.

As I said, I got this for ten dollars. Pioneer Entertainment had a booth at the San Diego Comic-Con last weekend and had a bunch of non-anime for ten dollars. Most of them I didn’t recognize. I have no idea what relationship Elite has with Pioneer. I’ve looked around and don’t know why it was going so cheaply. It might be simply that Pioneer was really trying to push anime at the con, and they accidentally dropped a box or two of non-anime into their truck. Or it might have something to do with the Anchor Bay edition coming out in late 2001. I can’t imagine a better transfer or better special features than this, however, so I see no reason to wait (if anyone has more information, please let me know).

This was an influential movie, and very well done for its genre. It is fun (and scary) to watch, and the commentary tracks are informative and interesting. I recommend that if you don’t purchase it, you at least rent it from a place that lets you keep it for a long time so you can fully enjoy the special features!

I actually liked this movie so much I’m considering picking up the second one for full price.

Recommendation: Possible Purchase

DirectorSam Raimi
ActorBruce Campbell
Spoken languageEnglish
Special FeaturesCommentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Photo Gallery, Trailer
More links

If you enjoyed The Evil Dead…

For more about Bruce Campbell, you might also be interested in Army of Darkness and Dead By Dawn.

For more about Evil Dead, you might also be interested in Army of Darkness and Dead By Dawn.

For more about horror, you might also be interested in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Alien, Dead By Dawn, Halloween, Scream, and Hell House.

For more about Sam Raimi, you might also be interested in Army of Darkness and Dead By Dawn.