Interview: Sam Raimi Re-conjures the ‘Evil Dead’
Raimi rose to prominence with his feature film debut, "The Evil Dead" (1981), a DIY horror flick that many consider to be the first true successor of George Romero's game-changing genre piece, "Night of the Living Dead" (1968). Using his earlier short film "Within the Woods" as a calling card, Raimi and his longtime pal Bruce Campbell scraped together around $90,000 from friends, family and even a dentist or two to bring the novice filmmaker's macabre vision to life, which transformed an idyllic weekend getaway for five college students into a gruesome battle against demonic forces. The 13-member crew shot on location in Morristown, Tennessee under less than ideal conditions, somehow managing to create what would become of the most popular cult films of all time through grueling trial and error.
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Q: Let's talk about why you wanted to do a remake of "Evil Dead." What interested you in that idea?
SAM RAIMI: When my partners, Robert Tapert, Bruce Campbell and myself made the original "Evil Dead" film, it was back in 1979, ‘80 and ‘81. And we could only afford to shoot it in 16 millimeter. The sound was mono. We couldn't afford stereo, let alone 5.1 surround sound. And it was released in very few theaters, probably 60 prints were made. It only showed in certain markets on the big screen because it was an unrated picture. So very few people saw it on the big screen. And those that did, saw a compromised picture with compromised sound. And we really felt it was a good ghost story and deserved to be told once on the big screen with high quality visuals and great acoustic treatment. So, we decided to remake it because it is, after all, just a ghost story. It's like a campfire ghost story that is best if somebody retells every generation. And, in this case, that storyteller is Fede Alvarez. He's a great filmmaker, and I really loved the short film that he made. When I started to work with him on a different film which we never made, I saw what a great, talented individual he was and what a precise storyteller he was. And I thought, this is the guy I want to tell my ghost story, for the new generation, with pristine sound and picture, on the big screen -- seen for the first time, like it was meant to be.