I saw Evil Dead when it first came out in 1981. I was in college at the time and there was a group of us called the Bad Cinema Club that went to see nearly every horror that was released at that time. This is not to say that all horror movies are bad. But there are a lot that are and we would go to see as many as we could to make sure we saw the bad ones. I do not intend to go through the plot of the movie here. I will say that this movie stood out among all of the others that we were going to see. It had an eerie feel to it that at the time made it seem more real than most of the other horror movies we were going to see. My thoughts at the time were that this stuff was really happening to the people on the screen. They just turned the camera on and recorded what was happening.
I have watched the film many times since then and it doesn’t seem as real anymore. The makeup on the possessed characters seems more over the top now than it did at the time. I remember a scene where a character was pinned against a wall that was originally so shocking seems more typical now. I’m sure some of the special effects techniques that were new in this film are more common now.
Anyway, this film stuck with me. It also scared the hell out of some of the people with me. Over the next few years, it would be a regular selection for fraternity Halloween parties. And at the time it still had the same impact.
A few years later, I was married. My wife and I would regularly rent several videos every weekend. Somehow, she had gone all this time without seeing Evil Dead. One weekend, we decided to pick this one up. We turned out most of the lights in our apartment in preparation to watch this scary film. There was a night light in the kitchen of our apartment that was the only light we left on. We could easily see this light from the couch where we were snuggled up watching the movie.
Then strange things started to happen. About one third of the way through the movie, the night light went out. This was totally unexpected and added to the mood of the film. Then about two thirds of the way through, our VCR stopped the film and started rewinding the tape. The remote control was nowhere near where we were sitting. We stopped the tape and started playing it again. We were able to fast forward to the place where we left off and finished watching. It never did again for the rest of the movie but it did do the same thing on one of the other tapes we watched over the weekend. We took the VCR to the shop and there was a board that had to be replaced. Did the Evil Dead cause the VCR to malfunction? Did it make the night light go out?
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