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The Evil Dead (And it's Sequels)

Sam Raimi is a cinematic mastermind. From his 1983 breakthrough The Evil Dead to his underrated 1986 black comedy Crimewave to his recent For The Love Of The Game, levelling out to his forthcoming Spiderman movie, Raimi is an auteur of American filmmaking.

His Evil Dead series is the focus of this piece. The original film, released in 1983, found Raimi innovating moving-camera techniques and creating a balls-to-the-wall, no-holds-barred horror film complete with heavy gore and dark humor. A character named Ash (Bruce Campbell) accompanies a group of friends to a remote mountain cabin. There they experience a night of terror when ghostly demons unleashed by the cabin's previous occupants descend on them. Once the group become possessed by the evil one-by-one, Ash is left alone to survive by any means necessary.

The intro to 1987's Dead By Dawn: Evil Dead II assures the viewer that Ash has survived his final onslaught from the previous film, but now he has to survive yet another grueling day and night of demonic torments. As others begin to descend upon the territory, hoping to research some information on the professor who had previously inhabitated the cabin, the demons come into play again. Now we're introduced to Henrietta (played in latex costume by the director's brother, Ted Raimi), the professor's newly-undead wife, who emerges from the locked cellar as a bloated ghoul who adds to Ash's woes. A glance at the ancient Necronomicon tome found in the cabin shows Ash a vision of his destiny, which he isn't prepared to accept. That is, until....

A full six years later, Army Of Darkness made a brief 1993 theatrical run. Wasting no time in setting up the plot, the new film finds Ash suddenly transported back to the Thirteenth Century in Europe, where warring feudalist tribes are currently besieged by demonic adversariers. After a brief imprisonment amongst these beleagured souls, it becomes apparent that Ash is the "Chosen One" they've been awaiting. And once they send their hero on horseback to recite the spell that will save them, the oafish Ash naturally bungles the incantation and inadvertantly brings a full attack against the tribe. Now it's up to Ash and his newfound Princess Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) to unite the pair of warring tribes and put an end to this unruly bunch of demons.

Understandably, once the smoke clears at the end of Army Of Darkness, Ash stands tall, and he's ready to be transported back to his own time. That is, if the local apothecary can do the trick. He does, but in two different released endings. One (available in the US release) shows Ash back at work as a hardware salesman at the fictitious S-Mart, where he whips out a shotgun to dispatch a few last-minute demons. The alternate, more-ambitious ending shown in Europe finds Ash awakening a century or two too late in a post-apocalyptic world. So which will become canon? I guess only The Evil Dead IV, should it ever happen, will say.

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