Wednesday, 20th September 2017. 1:51:01am ET
Reviews Book Reviews The Evil Dead Companion
Title: The Evil Dead Companion
Author: Bill Warren
Date: 10/18/03
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich

The Evil Dead companion is essentially a book aimed directly at obsessed fans of the Evil Dead film trilogy, although it may also provide interesting information and insight for budding horror film directors/writers. In fact, much of the book takes a semi-motivational "you can do it too" approach. Still, this is something that would be most appreciated by hardcore Evil Dead fans interested in every little detail about the making of their favorite films.

The first 180 pages provide the main bulk of the book. Beginning with facts and stories about the youth and early super 8 movies of Sam Raimi, Scott Spiegel, and Bruce Campbell, the book covers the making of all three films (albeit with an emphasis on the first film) as well as other projects by the various major players, complete with photos (behind the scenes, film footage, posters, Super 8 footage, etc). You'll find everything from an index with descriptions of many of their early super 8 movies to info on the making of the Within the Woods short to information about the making of other films and television projects by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell. There's technical information about the process of making the three films, amusing stories about things gone horribly wrong during filming, even sections about The Evil Dead's influence on other films. There's a plethora of information here (much of it obtained directly from interviews with Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert) that will delight Evil Dead fans and educate aspiring horror filmmakers. Those who have read Bruce Campbell's autobiography, If Chins Could Kill, will find some crossover here. However, this books gives a somewhat broader picture as it covers more of the major players and takes their recollections into account rather than focusing specifically on Bruce's life and projects.

On the negative side, Bill Warren is a film critic, and it definitely shows. He occasionally seems to deem it necessary to take on something of a condescending attitude and blab on about what he feels works in certain scenes and what doesn't. After reading the book, I'd say his writing seems most natural and intuitive when he's either tearing something apart or drooling pretentious praise all over it. There are also a few times during the book where he goes on to give little in-depth reviews of Raimi's other films or even page-long reviews of other horror films that have nothing to do with The Evil Dead series other than coming out around the same time.

The last 70 pages of the book are also a bit odd. The authors retells the stories of all three films in a "now we see this on the screen" manner along with comments in parenthesis from the author and Bruce Campbell (who apparently did an audio commentary to the movie especially for this book). It's something of a lo-fi DVD commentary for each movie (perhaps not quite as lo-fi for those like myself who have seen the movie enough times to picture every scene in vivid detail) with occasional tidbits you won't find on any of the commentaries on the actual DVD releases. Still, it's not especially noteworthy and just serves as sort of a little bit of icing on the cake.

Even with its problems, this book is an amazing and often amusing source of information that no obsessed Evil Dead fan should pass up. It's also a good read for independent filmmakers or those interested in independent filmmaking. It's almost undeniably the best source of Evil Dead info out there (closely followed by Bruce Campbell's autobiography). For those that need to know everything about The Evil Dead trilogy, this is the place to start.


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