Once upon a time, a kid who loved comic books, horror movies, and the Three Stooges and really wanted to be a filmmaker started with a low-budget horror movie. Unlike most first-timers, Sam Raimi’s scrappy little horror movie — The Evil Dead — spawned two sequels, video games, a comic-book series, and a gory tongue-in-cheek musical. Any horror fan worth his or her weight in blood has seen The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness, but even the most devoted fans can always be surprised. Deepen your appreciation with ten little-known facts about the Evil Dead trilogy.
1. Rocky Horror Fans Helped The Evil Dead Get Made
Without The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its fanatical devotees, The Evil Dead may never have been. Raimi’s movie started as a short that was shown theatrically with Rocky Horror. The reaction helped persuade potential investors to put up money for a feature-length version.
2. Stephen King Brought The Evil Dead to America
Displaying prescient judgment and business savvy, no U.S. distributor was interested in The Evil Dead — that is, until Stephen King saw the movie and wrote a rave review, dubbing it the “most ferociously original horror film of the year.”
3. The Evil Dead Set Off a Chain of Horror-Movie Jokes
The Hills Have Eyes poster that appears briefly in The Evil Dead is Raimi’s homage to Wes Craven’s use of a ripped poster from Jaws in The Hills Have Eyes itself. Craven responded by having Nancy Thompson watch The Evil Dead on TV in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Raimi countered by hanging a Freddy Krueger glove above the toolshed door in Evil Dead II.
4. Steve Guttenberg Is to Blame for Linda Being Played by Three Actresses
Ash’s girlfriend, Linda, appears in all three movies played by different actresses. Betsy Baker plays Linda in The Evil Dead but declined the role in Evil Dead II because she was pregnant. Thus in Evil Dead II Denise Bixler made her movie debut as Linda, but she married Steve Guttenberg in 1988 and stopped acting, leading to Bridget Fonda taking the role.
5. The Evil Dead Helped the Coen Brothers Get Started
Years before the Oscar-winning Coen brothers made their first feature, Joel edited The Evil Dead. Even though Raimi’s first impression was of a “weird….long-, greasy-haired guy that I thought was going to rip [me] off or something,” he and the Coens went on to collaborate in several projects.
6. Evil Dead II Almost Took Place During the Middle Ages
Army of Darkness moves the action to the year 1300, but it was the original story for Evil Dead II that was set during the Middle Ages. Producers weren’t willing to back the period piece, so Raimi saved the medieval idea for Army of Darkness.
7. There’s an Alternate Ending to Army of Darkness
Think Army of Darkness is messed up? Raimi’s alternate ending is even crazier: Ash miscounts the number of drops of time-travel potion to drink and returns 100 years later than he wanted to find humanity totally wiped out by a nuclear holocaust. Bummer.
8. Ash’s Double Head Is an Homage
In Army of Darkness, Ash splits into Good Ash and Bad Ash and eventually grows a second head. The double head, while amazing, was not Raimi’s original idea but an homage by the director to the bizarre U.S.-Japanese horror movie The Manster.
9. Necronomicon Was Invented by H.P. Lovecraft
The spell that first raises the Deadites comes from a book called Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, first mentioned by name in the prologue to Evil Dead II. Necronomicon was borrowed from horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.
10. Ash’s Car Belongs to Sam Raimi
In all three movies, the put-upon hero, Ash, drives a yellow 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88. The car is Raimi’s, and Campbell — who met Raimi when they were teenagers — swears that it’s been in “every one of his movies since high school.”