Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Evil Dead (1981)

Go To

We're gonna get you,
We're gonna get you.
Not another peep,
Time to go to sleep.

The Evil Dead (1981) is the first movie in the Evil Dead franchise.

The first film's story follows a bunch of teens who get together in a cabin in Tennessee and play a tape-recorded recitation from a demonic book of the dead (the "Naturom Demonto" - in sequels, renamed the "Necronomicon Ex Mortis") — which leads to each of them becoming possessed and attacking the others.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: In contrast to the sequels establishing him as a Rated M for Manly badass, Ash here is a normal guy who has to suddenly fight off his friends being possessed.
  • Adorkable: In this movie, Ash is nerdy and constantly trips over his words, puts his foot in his mouth, and isn't much of an action hero, but Linda seems to like him for all these reasons.
  • B-Movie: Definitely among the most famous B Movies ever.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bigger on the Inside: The cabin might as well be a TARDIS.
  • Blatant Lies: At one point, Shelly and Linda play a psychic game with a deck of cards. Linda keeps guessing the cards wrong; Shelly doesn't tell her that though.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Cheryl (blonde), Shelly (brunette) and Linda (redhead).
  • Blue Is Heroic: Ash is the hero and wears a blue shirt.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The rickety bridge the group drives over to get to the cabin. A couple of planks fall off it as they drive - and sure enough it's collapsed by the time Cheryl wants to leave.
  • Creator Cameo: Hinted at by the tape: "Saman sa'rob dar ees haikar dande roza", this being derived from "Sam [Raimi] and Rob [Tapert] are hitchhikers on the road." Sure enough, if you paid attention five minutes into the film, Scott drove the Olds past a pair of idiotic-looking hitchhikers in fishing gear, both of whom turn to wave as the car sped by.
  • Advertisement:
  • Daylight Horror: The ending and few scares at the beginning too.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Early on, Scott seems to be the hero while Ash is next to useless. This quickly changes.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Besides the above, the Necronomicon isn't called that yet. The 2013 remake thus called it by its original name.
  • Ending Fatigue: Invoked in this movie. The book is destroyed, the deadites are disintegrated and Ash is bloodied up, traumatized and exhausted from all the things he went through. The music even crescendos to the point where we think it's all over, but then the unseen evil finally gets to Ash paving the way for Evil Dead 2.
  • Eye Scream: Ash saves himself from being strangled by driving both his thumbs into deadite Scott's eyesockets, messily rupturing both eyeballs.
  • Fake Shemp: As the other four actors had left by the time the film was only half-done, the rest had to be shot using Bruce Campbell and stand-ins.
  • Final Girl: Subverted. Cheryl looks like she'll be something of a Final Girl - as she's the one who senses something off about the house and warns the others not to do anything. She's also the only one not in a relationship. But then she's the first one possessed by the demons, and it's her brother Ash who's the survivor. If you want to get technical though, Cheryl is the final demon to die.
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: Inverted. The camera flies at Bruce Campbell at the end.
  • Foreshadowing: While sketching a picture of the clock, Cheryl is forced to do a drawing that resembles the book found in the cellar.
  • The Generic Guy: Shelly has very little characterization outside being Scott's girlfriend and filling the screaming woman role once Cheryl is possessed.
  • Gorn:
    • The very graphic shot of Cheryl stabbing Linda in the ankle with a pencil.
    • Blood splashing from the stumps of Shelly's limbs as Scott chops her up.
  • Happy Ending: Subverted. All appears to be well for Ash at the end, until he's suddenly attacked by an evil presence. See Ending Fatigue above.
  • Hope Spot: There is a moment where Linda seems free from the possession and Cheryl too, asking Ash to open the cellar to let her out. But they soon get possessed again - leaving it unknown if they actually were free or the deadites were just trolling Ash.
  • The Hyena: Deadite Linda constantly laughs, to everyone else's annoyance.
  • Ironic Echo: Ash flirtatiously peeks at Linda while pretending to be asleep, shutting his eyes when she looks back at him. After she's possessed and apparently killed, her "corpse" does the same thing to him.
  • Late to the Tragedy: Although Ash and his friends don't realize it at first.
  • Metafictional Title: Evil Dead was originally named Book of the Dead after the book of the same name, which appears in the movie. The name was changed because the executives didn't want people to think it was a movie about a book.
  • Mood Whiplash: After the shock ending, we're treated to some upbeat credits music.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The "living dead" here are possessed by evil spirits, and aren't out to eat brains as much as they are to wreak havoc.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: We have the slightly useless Ash who gives his girlfriend a thoughtful gift contrasted with the alpha male Scotty.
  • Sole Survivor: Ash Williams, although his fate is left ambiguous since the first film ends with a Bolivian Army Ending.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Twice; jazz music from a possessed record player when Ash is in the cellar where blood starts leaking from everything. Cheerful, big-band music also begins playing over the end credits, and then begins to... slow.
  • Sweater Girl: Linda spends the movie wearing a tight white sweater, very fitting as the protagonist's girlfriend.
  • The "The" Title
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Naturom Demonto, the Book of the Dead.
  • Unexpectedly Real Magic: The main characters accidentally summon the evil dead by jokingly reading out from The Book of the Dead.
  • Video Nasties: Probably the best known film bearing this trope.
  • When Trees Attack: Some trees attack one character and start ripping her clothes off.
  • Woman in White: Linda is possessed when she's wearing a white nightgown, creating this effect.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Scott has no problem kicking Cheryl and knocking her into the cellar once she starts attacking everyone.
    • Ash also hits the possessed Linda to try and make her stop laughing.


Example of: