Before there was The Evil Dead, there was Sam Raimi’s short film Within the Woods.
Made on a shoestring budget and filmed on Super 8, 1979’s Within the Woods stars a very young Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss. Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Raimi's story revolves around a group of friends who head to a cabin in the woods to enjoy some sun and fun, only to be tormented by demonic forces. Sound familiar?
According to Geeks of Doom, the film was screened before midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Detroit and only made $11.40, but received some positive reviews prompting the trio of Raimi, Campbell, and producer Robert Tapert to use the short to shop around the idea for their full-length film. They eventually drummed up enough support to finance a production that would unleash the Deadites on an unsuspecting and eternally grateful audience. Watch the 30 minute short here, it’s not the best quality but provides a fun look at Raimi’s early inspiration for The Evil Dead.