1. It was based on a short film called “Within the Woods.”
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to call Within The Woods, director Sam Raimi’s short, schlocky horror film, the proto-Evil Dead. Shot on a shoestring budget of $1600, Woods was a labor of grisly love for the budding filmmaker. Raimi shopped the short film around in hopes of financing a feature film, which eventually came to fruition in his cult classic 1981 horror masterpiece, The Evil Dead.
2. It was shot in an actual abandoned cabin in the woods.
That’s right — one of the horror genre’s most timeless tropes is at least partially grounded in reality. Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell and the film’s crew spent the troubled shoot at the remote cabin in the Tennessee woods, which, according to local legend, was in fact haunted by the spirit of a sinister old woman. Ghosts and ghouls were the least of the crew’s worries, though; the cabin had no heat, no plumbing, and was a serious hike for anyone seeking medical attention. In a fitting tribute to the months of frostbite and gore, the cabin burnt to the ground shortly after filming wrapped, either from a freak thunderstorm or at Raimi’s own hand, depending on who you ask.
3. Almost every actor was injured during production.
As you may’ve gleaned by now, the actual production process for The Evil Dead was something of a horrorshow in and of itself. With barely any budget for flashy special effects or stunt doubles, Raimi regularly put his cast in real, death-defying danger to achieve some of the shoot’s biggest scares. Leading man Campbell sprained his ankle and nearly busted his chin open in a couple of choice sequences, where actress Betsy Baker lost all of her eyelashes when her Deadite make-up was ripped from her face. Not so groovy.
4. A short film on YouTube is the impetus behind the new “Evil Dead.”
Director Fede Alvarez’s first film was an apocalyptic sci-fi short called Ataque de Pánico!, or Panic Attack!, chronicling an incredible alien invasion across the Uruguayan cityscape of Montevideo. His second film? The upcoming Evil Dead remake, alongside some of Hollywood’s most renowned masters of horror, top rising talent, and the approval and producing support of The Evil Dead alums Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell.
5. Post-production took a year and a half.
Like its own bile-spewing, undead grotesqueries, The Evil Dead was the movie that just refused to die. As shooting concluded and film’s original cast moved on to other projects, Raimi found himself with several sets of shoes to fill when the time came for reshoots — shoes that had to be filled by his brother, actor Ted Raimi, and series star Bruce Campbell, ever-faithful to the end. The duo acted as stand-ins for every other character during the film’s post-production work, dubbed “Fake Shemps” by Raimi, a lifelong Three Stooges fan.
6. There were three unofficial Italian sequels to Evil Dead.
What, you thought the Evil Dead Trilogy was a…you know, trilogy? Think again, amateur. When The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn hit Italian cinemas, they were retitled to La Casa and La Casa II, respectively. Italy pretty much took it from there, producing La Casa 3 — titled Ghosthouse for its bizarro American release — on its own, and then making another sequel with La Casa IV — called Witchery in the USA, and starring a post-Knightrider David Hasselhoff — and another sequel with, yep, La Casa 5, or Beyond Darkness. They were, unsurprisingly, not very good.
7. There is an Evil Dead musical.
With camp-tastic tunes like “Cabin in the Woods,” “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Kandarian Demons,” “What the F— Was That?,” and “Hail to the King,” natch. Since its debut performance up in the great plains of Toronto, Evil Dead: The Musical has run all across the country, including an off-Broadway stint in 2006.
8. “Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn” was NOT a remake.
While Evil Dead diehards can all agree that Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn is one of the finest horror films to splatter across the silver screen, debate has raged about the film’s first act, which, by and large, is a retelling of the first film’s events. It turns out that director Raimi’s initial plan was to reuse footage from the first film for Dead by Dawn’s opening minutes, but due to licensing woes with said footage, was forced to reshoot it entirely. And since many of the film’s former players were tied up with prior commitments, on top of budget and time concerns from the film’s production team, it fell to Bruce Campbell to act as the retelling’s sole original star. And thus, a hero was born in iron-jawed Ash.
9. The original script for “Evil Dead 2” covered Ash’s journey in the Medieval Ages.
That’s right — the Dead by Dawn we all know and love could’ve become Army of Darkness if not for budgetary constraints. Raimi had hoped to catapult Ash back to the medieval ages in Evil Dead 2’s opening minutes, but instead opted for the film’s fantastic cliffhanger ending to set the hero’s Medieval quest up as a possible third film. What we got instead was a slick blend of sick horror and hilarious Stooge-inspired slapstick comedy that’d set the tone for trilogy’s final film.
10. The original “Army Of Darkness” ending was a bit…darker.
Yeah yeah, we all know that Ash makes it back to S-Mart as the same snarky catchphrase spouter that he always was, but only Army of Darkness aficionados are familiar with the film’s true ending, which saw Ash oversleep well past his own time and wake up in a horrid post-apocalypse. Which ending is “canon” is still a point of contention among series faithfuls, but both Raimi and Campbell have noted that they prefer the original, darker ending to the film’s final theatrical scene.