As horror fans, we make it our business to know the most obscure details about our favorite films. We watch the bonus features on the special edition releases of our favorite DVDs and we read retrospective interviews recalling the details of our most beloved titles. But even the most diligent fan is bound to miss something along the way. So, to help you get the lowdown, we're running a recurring segment that rounds up some lesser-known trivia from your favorite horror films. For this installment, we're setting our sights on Sam Raimi’s 1981 horror film The Evil Dead.
Feast your eyes on: Ten things you may not have known about The Evil Dead.
The film is based on a Sam Raimi short called "Within the Woods"
The 30-minute short film was made in 1978 for $1600. The purpose of the short was to attract potential investors for an eventual feature. Like The Evil Dead, "Within the Woods" focuses on demonic forces that originate in the woods and possess the film’s characters.
Ellyn Sandweiss is a high school friend of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell
She starred in several of Sam Raimi’s short films, including Within the Woods, before going on to star in The Evil Dead.
The Evil Dead was originally called Book of the Dead
When the film was first screening in the early ‘80s, it showed under the title Book of the Dead. It wasn’t until the film was in negotiation for distribution that the title was changed to The Evil Dead.
Stephen King was instrumental in helping the film to get noticed and secure distribution
King saw the film at Cannes, loved it, and provided quotes for marketing and distribution purposes. His approval helped pave the way for the film’s success.
The opening scene was shot at least four different times
The opening scene that made it in to the film was the last scene that Sam Raimi shot. He felt that all of the previous versions were not dramatic enough.
There was no cellar in the cabin where The Evil Dead was filmed
The production crew cut a hole in the floor, installed a trap door, and then dug a six-foot deep hole beneath the newly installed door. In that hole, the crew added several steps to make it look as if the door went to a basement. Most of the shots that take place in the cellar were done at Rob Tapert’s parents’ farm in Michigan.
Night of the Living Dead was a huge influence on The Evil Dead
George Romero’s use of a single cabin location, a 16MM camera, and a micro budget all influenced Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert in their creation of The Evil Dead.
Safety was not a primary concern on the set
The production didn’t use tempered glass, blanks, or many other safety precautions. If script called for a broken window or the use of a shotgun, the crew would break real glass or fire off live rounds.
The ‘rape vines’ sequence was shot in multiple cuts, at several locations, and over such a long period of time that it lessened the impact of the segment for Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert
After the scene was edited together, the duo realized that it was more disturbing than they had initially expected it to be but found that it was effective, nonetheless. Tapert says that the scene was loosely inspired by the sequence in “Macbeth” where the woods come to life.
Betsy Baker had to stick her head in a bowl of onions to produce tears
On the film’s commentary track, Tapert and Raimi explain that onions were cheaper to purchase than a bottle of Visine, so they opted for onions.
For more in our "Things You Might Not Know" series, check out: