Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Before There Was The Evil Dead .....

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There was Within The Woods. Back in 1978, Sam Raimi & Co. knew that they didn't have the funds needed to pull off Evil Dead the way they wanted to just yet. But they did muster up $1,600 and with that $1,600 they made a 30 minute short film based off the feature length script they had in hand. The idea being that if they could show potential investors what they were capable of, they could earn themselves the funding needed to make the full film they wanted to make. So they headed out to the Michigan family farm of Evil Dead producer Rob Tapert with their Super 8 camera and their $1,600 and in six days filmed Within The Woods, the abridged version of what was to become The Evil Dead. The short immediately recieved much praise, including one Detroit reviewer stating that "in just 32 minutes, it provides more chills, thrills, and squeamish giggles than such recent professional duds as Prophecy and The Amityville Horror combined." Needless to say, The Evil Dead soon after became a reality.

The short, which starred Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss, who would both go on to appear in Evil Dead, was never released for several reasons. For one, the music rights were never cleared and for two, according to Campbell, Sam Raimi never felt it was good enough to be included on any Evil Dead DVD releases. For many years, horror fans had to hit Ebay or the convention circuits to snag themselves a bootleg copy. I, like many others, had been dying to see the movie and I thought I was gonna have to shell out some cash to get my paws on a copy. But then I stumbled upon a blog called Plan 9 From, and I soon discovered that Within The Woods is now available to watch instantly and for free online! The quality isn't so good, but it's the best you're probably ever gonna get! Take 30 minutes out of your day to check it out, if only to say you've seen this piece of horror history!

3 comments:

Bjornabo said...

Great little movie. Thanks alot Johnny.

Some interresting facts about Within The Woods:

- The film was publicly released once, shortly after it was made, and featured before late night performances of the The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) in a Detroit theater. Due to not having rights to the music, Raimi and Campbell donated the film's entire gross of less than $20 to the American Cancer Society.

- During the making of this film, Bruce Campbell never took off his monster make-up and, when shooting ended, he discovered that his face had started to resemble the shape of the make-up.

Johnny said...

Gotta love Bruce. Cool to see him as the villain for once, huh!

Bearded Weirdo Reviews said...

I actually have this on bootleg DVD. I'm an Evil Dead completist, so it was a must-have. Cool li'l flick. Feels, to me, like an old Eerie Publications horror story, with a dash of "campfire scary story" feel to it too.