Evil Dead and the Birth of Several Horror Icons

Getting down to it folks, after tonight, one more entry in the countdown of my 100 favorite horror movies.

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  1. Creepshow – 1982

George Romero directed this fantastic anthology featuring an all-star cast including Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, and E.G. Marshall. Several tales inspired by a vagabond horror comic book are depicted. Ted Danson also stars. The Crate may just be the best horror short ever filmed. I do like anthologies and I think the is the best one ever made.

  1. Jaws – 1975

Steven Spielberg directed this tale of an extra large, rogue, great white shark that feasts on the summer crowd in the friendly island town of Amity. Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw star. Shaw’s performance as Quint is wonderful and there are so many quotable lines. The mechanical shark didn’t work half the time during filming, which made for a more suspenseful film, aided of course by John Williams’ fantastic score. I struggled with labeling this a horror film until I watched it again recently. Yup, horror film. I first saw it at the drive-in movies (remember those?).

  1. Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein – 1931/1935

Colin Clive and Boris Karloff headline the film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s epic tale of science gone wrong. The monster is brought to life and Karloff brings it to LIFE in the role Bela Lugosi turned down. Elsa Lanchester plays the bride brilliantly in The Bride of Frankenstein, the long-awaited sequel. Interestingly enough, the “Bride” is the only Universal monster that does not commit a murder. I think The Bride of Frankenstein is the better of the two films. I combine them here because I do think they should be watched together.

  1. Dracula – 1931

Bela Lugosi defined the screen vampire for decades to come as he took his stage performance to the movie house. Parodied, lampooned, copied, imitated, and above all, revered, Lugosi’s performance is iconic and defined the genre. Hell, it created the genre. This is one of my favorite films of all time, not just horror. Most people today wouldn’t find it scary or frightening, but I’m sure moviegoers of 1931 sure did.

  1. The Evil Dead/Evil Dead – 1981/2013

Funny, I am watching this movie as I write this as part of the Starz Evil Dead marathon. Bruce Campbell is introduced as Ash, who is largely ineffective as a demon killer in this. His buddy Scott seems to be the one to fight the possessed and take action. Ash eventually redeems himself. Five college friends try to relax at ye olde cabin in the woods. They find a book and a recording. Once playback of the recording begins, a translation of the book, all hell breaks loose. Written and directed by Sam Raimi, this is supposed to be a straight-up horror film. It spawned three more films and a new TV series that premieres tomorrow night. It also launched Campbell’s groovy career. Jane Levy takes up the mantle in the 2013 reboot, which is very effective as both a reimagining and a horror film in the Evil Dead universe.

  1. Evil Dead II – 1987

I’m not sure if this is a sequel to or a remake of the 1981 film. Ash (Bruce Campbell) is at the cabin with his girlfriend, the book and the recording. The book has been renamed the Necronomicon and Ash becomes a demon fighting hero. He cuts off his own hand and fashions a chainsaw attachment for his stump. After the obligatory “arm the hero” scene, Ash deadpans, “Groovy.” Ash is given every cheeseball line you can think of and it just works. Campbell’s self-flagellation as he fights the demon that has possessed his hand is horror/comedy legend.

  1. Army of Darkness – 1992

Our man Ash is transported to the medieval past as the savior from the sky who will save the populace from the “deadites.” Embeth Davitz joins the cast as Ash’s peasant love interest. If the lines were delivered in Evil Dead II, they flowed in Army of Darkness. So many quotable lines in this movie make it one of my all-time favorites. And Bruce Campbell solidified himself as the king of schlock horror/comedy. “Hail to the King, baby.”

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