Friday, March 22, 2013

Brandon Peters's Evil Dead franchise retrospective part I: Within the Woods (1978)

Brandon Peters has returned!  Leading up to the April 5th release date of the new Evil Dead remake, Mr. Peters will be doing his voodoo with the Evil Dead series.  He begins not with a retrospective review of the first Evil Dead film, because that would be too easy.  No, first he's giving us a look at Within the Woods, the 1978 short film that Sam Raimi made in order to get funding for The Evil Dead.  As only a casual Evil Dead fan, I've frankly never heard of this one, so this was as informative for me as I hope it will be for you.  So without further ado...

Within The Woods
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Ellen Sandweiss, Bruce Campbell, Scott Spiegel
Not Rated

You're only cursed by the evil spirits if you violate the graves of the dead. We're just gonna be eating hotdogs.

Sam Raimi's desired vision for The Evil Dead could not come to fruition unless he had more money than he could come up with himself.  So, in 1978, he decided to make a short film, as sort of a trailer to hope to scare up the money to make the full film (yes, that was a pun, sometimes I just can't help it).  Raimi's movie premiered in front of a midnight screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show to a good reception and he was able to acquire most of the his desired budget to make The Evil Dead.

Within The Woods brings forth a lot of shots, effects and story elements found in its big brother feature film.  Although this one plays out more of a monster/slasher type horror than it does supernatural.  And that’s mainly because of the money.  Future Evil Dead stars Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss take lead in this little horror story.  In this rendition, we have a female survivor/protagonist and Campbell’s “Bruce” is the deadite villain of the story.  Instead of the book of the dead, this film gets its evil from the old disturbing of the Native American burial ground routine.  Campbell takes the dagger (similar to the one in The Evil Dead films) from the grounds and through that he is apparently beaten and possessed wanting to kill everyone in distance while saying “Join us!”

The only copy I've seen of this film is of the poorest quality.  You can definitely watch it, but its hard to make out things out.  The only sources I've seen looks to be an old, worn out, chewed up VHS tape (go ahead hipsters, tell me how much better and more fun VHS is than Blu-ray).  Some of the effects looks interesting because, well, I can't really see much.  I'd kind of like to see their cheapness as it might add a sense of charm to it.  As poor as the quality is, you can still make out Sandweiss’ distinct nose just fine.  It's only a half hour, but could have been much shorter.  This short actually does nail some moments quite well, especially the final shot.  If you’re an Evil Dead fanatic and haven't seen this, definitely give it a look (as hard as it might be to see).  I believe you can find it on YouTube.

“Join us” next time for: THE EVIL DEAD

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1 comment:

Magali said...

Yes! I read a lot about this movie (the whole series really) in Bruce's autobiography & I can't wait to read more about the series on Mendelson's Memos.


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