In 1981 Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and several other very little known actors, as well as a tiny and inexperienced crew, set off into the woods of Tennessee to make a horror unlike anything anyone had ever seen.
On a shoestring budget of $120,000 they produced a splatter flick with one of the most basic horror movie premises imaginable: college students vacation to an isolated cabin, only to be confronted by a nearly unstoppable demonic force.
Although the film wasn't released until 1983, but went on to be a modest success at the box office despite almost non-existent promotion, helped along only by word of mouth.
The film gained cult status as it reached VHS and was an unquestionable influence on horror directors everywhere. It's visceral. It's terrifying. It's unforgettable. It's a fantastic achievement of imagination, considering what the director and modest crew had to work with.
The film's setting, the isolated cabin, was found to be in a near-dilapidated state by the cast and crew upon arriving in Tennessee. Animal shit literally covered the floor, and was dutifully shoveled out by none other than Bruce Campbell before repairs by actors and crew themselves went on to bring the place into shape.
From there the cabin was reluctantly a home for everyone involved with the picture. Actors underwent grueling conditions for the duration of the shoot. The cabin lacked heat and electricity. Special effects makeup methods, specifically makeup which was paint specifically not meant to be applied to skin, were crude, and when "possessed" the large and painful contacts to white out the eyes of the actors effectively blinded them.
During the long shoot the only actor of the film to remain on for the duration was Bruce Campbell, others leaving after they had fulfilled their contracts, only to be replaced by local folks as stand-ins when they were required in a shot. Nobody worked harder on this film than Bruce, and since he's become somewhat of a legend in the film industry for his tenacity on the shoot of The Evil Dead -- not to mention a hunky, charming cult movie star that we all love.
All this makes for an interesting story surrounding the film, but the really special thing is what it became. There is plenty of dark humor and originality, as well as shocking, gruesome scenes. They certainly don't make horror films of this caliber on this kind of budget anymore, and perhaps the only thing preventing me from calling this the very best horror movie of its kind is simply the fact that the special effects are crude enough to occasionally distract.
Nonetheless, check this out, if you dare! A perfect Halloween flick, to be sure.
Verdict: Epic Win (we can't bury Shelly, she's a friend of ours)